The Gideon Chronicles: Lessons Learned in Taking in a Wild Kitten
By Kaitlin Falatovich
A few months back a co-worker of mine said that there were kittens living under her porch.
It was the same unfortunate story… One of the neighborhood cats had gotten pregnant and now it was my neighbor’s responsibility to take care of them.
She begged and pleaded with me to take one of her precious little kittens so that she wouldn’t have to bring them to the nearest (no-kill) animal shelter. I reluctantly refused the kittens for a few weeks, but when the time came for them to be separated from their mother, I couldn’t resist.
One in particular was just TOO CUTE to leave at a shelter. With his huge blue eyes and soft mew, I was in love with the new addition to our family, Gideon. Little did I know that unlike my other cat (who is a 2 year old rescue) our new little bundle of joy was going to be a bundle of work.
I learned a few things in those first couple weeks. Facts and lessons that I think everyone should know before taking in a kitten.
1. First thing that everyone should take into consideration before adopting/keeping a kitten is that cats, as well as every other pet, are not toys. I have seen it way too much were the fun of having a new pet wears off and the young animal is once again, alone.
If I had not been so serious about taking the cat in I would have probably given little Gideon away after the first week. He was a little terror. Every few minutes he would be hiding in the most unlikely hiding spots or using my bedroom as a litter box. I spent many precious hours cleaning up kitty messes and trying to find our new friend. One time he managed to slip under my entertainment center with less than 3 inches of breathing room! (See picture to right)
2. This brings me to the next important tip to remember before bringing home a new kitten: cat proofing. A kitten that has just been separated from their mother is not only lost, but terrified. Most times, when bringing a kitten into new home, new parents could experience some undesired home decorating. Everything for from tiny little claw marks, to more serious, sometimes life threatening, hazards.
3. Make sure before bringing your new friend into your home that all electric wires and other hazards such as toxic cleaning products are out of reach. Like human babies, kittens are new to the world, and don’t understand that a few minutes of playtime could kill them.
4. Also like a human child, kittens require a lot of attention. New parents should be prepared to spend many hours playing with the kitten and making him feel comfortable. Gideon kept my fiancée and I up many nights, crying out and clawing at our feet. I remember sitting and playing with him until he fell asleep, which sometimes wouldn’t be for several hours.
5. But possibly the biggest challenge that a new parent can face is making all your little ones feel comfortable. I am the now the parent of two of the best cats in the world. They love frolicking and rough housing around my apartment, but it wasn’t always so friendly.
It is very important to make sure that from the beginning all of your best friends are getting along. The best way to do this is to let them interact with each other. Becoming a multiple cat owner for the first time was definitely a learning experience.
*** My words of advice, if your new kitten has been vaccinated and thoroughly inspected for fleas and parasites, integrate them immediately! No matter how tempting it is to separate your pets, if they are healthy, don’t!
When I first brought Gideon home, my other cat, Minaj hated him. She hissed violently, and would try to slash my little baby. It looked like a gruesome cage match. So naturally I separated the two of them immediately. It seemed like the best option considering that I didn’t want to find a beat up little kitten when I came home from work.
But the best way to get all of your cats to become friends is to let nature take its course. After much hesitation, I gave both Gideon and Minaj full reign of the house, together. I found out to never underestimate your little one. As soon as I let both of them play, little Gideon was taking complete control of the situation.
One time I even came home to find him riding Minaj down the hallway like a horse! (Literal LOL added by the blog’s Administrator here…)
Now after a few months both of my best friends are getting along perfectly. The process was a slow but eventually rewarding journey. This is what worked for me.
All in all, cats have many different personalities and may have a more difficult time adjusting.
*** Also, keep these tips in mind and remember to consult a vet if any unexpected health problems come about. It is always better for your vet to tell you that nothing is wrong then to find out something is wrong when it is too late.
Kaitlin Falatovich is a content writer for dog.com. She enjoys her two cats Gideon and Minaj as well as the company of her fiancée. Kaitlin was the recipient of the Pennsylvania 2010 Associated Press Broadcasting award for Best Feature Story. For more articles please click here.