This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for ages, and since the warmer months and “kitten season” are on their way I thought this would be good timing. We adopted this little bundle of fluff in mid-September from the Scottish SPCA when she was 9-weeks old. She was from a litter of 7(!) who came in when the mother’s owner couldn’t look after them. The SSPCA were great and allowed us to take her as soon as she had her first set of vaccinations. There was a charge of £70 but we were given vouchers for free neutering and microchipping which actually costs about the same anyway. Tilly is the is the first kitten I have had so I’m no expert, but I have learnt a lot.
As a teeny kitten Tilly loved snuggling, hiding under the sofa and farting. Oh my God, little kittens are stinky! The first week she was home we had people keep her company while I was at work (lots of volunteers for that!) so she met lots of people and has no shyness around new folk. For the next four weeks I went home every lunchtime to feed her as she needed 4 small meals a day. She needed as much company, playtime and attention as possible so a kitten is a much bigger time commitment than even an adult can is.
She really loved snuggling! I would say that cat beds are fairly pointless, they’ll never sleep where you want them to. My advice would be to just buy a couple of cosy jumpers, I got really good fluffy ones from Asda.
Around this time she also got into the very bad habit of climbing up people. Me, visitors, the vet – everyone was a climbing frame. All the scratches. This was really frustrating, not to mention painful. But honestly, if you have a climber, don’t worry, they do grow out of it. The vet did trim the very tip of her claws so that she could still climb but it wasn’t as painful for her victim.
The Big Move. In December we moved to Gloucester – a 7 hour drive and a new house to cope with. Tilly was a total star. She mostly slept on the journey down because we left mid-afternoon. If you’re having to do an unavoidable journey with a kitten I’d say that medications etc aren’t necessary, just plan it for when they usually have a sleep. There will be moaning but it won’t be as bad as with a wide-awake cat. I was surprised (and proud) at how well Tilly coped with it all.
A fun thing we learnt this year – kittens loose their teeth! Yep, like kids, they have baby teeth that fall out around the age of 4-6 months. We discovered this after an incident with a stuffed panda and some frantic Googling.
Tilly’s adoption story shows how important it is to neuter your pets. We definitely didn’t want her to end up like her mum with seven babies. Cats can get pregnant from four months so it’s recommended that you keep them in until they can get neuter at 5 months. As far as I understand, the operation is really straightforward for boys and doesn’t require stitches but it’s a more invasive for the ladies. Tilly snookered herself by immediately chewing at her stitches so had to wear the cone of shame for a week. She was obviously very uncomfortable for a couple of days but was back to her usual self by the end of the week.
But neutering is necessary if you want to let your kitty outside. Tilly now has access to the great outdoors although she’s restricted to our back garden for now as she’s too wee to jump the fence. After a very shaky (trembling with fear/cold) she now loves being able to investigate all the new smells, sights and sounds outside.
She’s getting bigger and more grown up every day but she still loves a cuddle. She also hasn’t yet grown out of her suckling habit from babyhood and those Asda jumpers are basically her surrogate momma.
So looking after a kitten is definitely hard work. It takes a lot of time, patience and money. I’ve had a lot of scratches – some quite bad, broken ornaments, chewed bags, my sofa has been wrecked. As well as food, there is insurance, vet bills, litter, toys, flea treatment and holiday boarding to be paid for. But she is worth it all. She’s part of our family now.
Lastly, I would urge anyone thinking about getting a kitten to adopt not shop. Sadly people sometimes let their pets breed indiscriminately and if they can’t sell the kittens on Gumtree, they end up in shelters like the SSPCA. Don’t give them your money.
If you have any questions about the adoption process or looking after a cat or kitten, please just ask below. As you can tell it something I’m always happy to talk about!