Cats as Gifts What to Consider

Before you give a family member the gift of a new kitten, make sure you understand the responsibilities.

We can certainly understand the thrill of seeing a little girl's eyes light up as she sees her brand new kitten curled up in her eager arms. A cat can be her best friend, someone who is there when no one else is, and a way to teach responsibility. Although cats require significantly less attention and work than dogs do, they still require care. So before you decide to give a child or other family member a kitten as a gift, here are a few things you should consider.

Commitment: First and foremost, be certain that whoever will be responsible for the kitten's care is committed to keeping it for 12, possibly even 16 years.

Choosing: It’s tempting to unveil the kitten as a surprise for your child, but we suggest purchasing a cat toy or a carrier with a "pet gift certificate" for your local humane society or a responsible breeder. This way, your child can pick out her own kitten, forming a special connection with the one she chooses.

Homecoming: Introduce your new kitten gradually to each family member. Sometimes keeping your kitten confined to one room may relieve the stress and fear of being thrust into a new environment.

Safety: Keep small objects out of your kitten's reach so he won't choke or puncture his intestines by swallowing something sharp. Also, kittens have very tender paws that can be easily cut by rough objects.

Kitty Proofing: Securing your home for a new kitten is much like baby-proofing for a toddler. Kittens are curious and love to explore — they will take every opportunity to investigate their surroundings.

  • Cover outlets with child-proof plugs to protect your cat from electrocution or severe burns.
  • Secure electrical cords so that your kitten will not attempt to chew them or become caught by wrapping them around his neck.
  • Keep him away from medicines, cleaning products, string and standing water.
  • Be careful about the plants you choose to keep in your home. Kittens can be poisoned by certain plants while others can cause irritation to the mouth and throat.

Supplies: Purchase all necessary food and supplies before bringing your new pet home, so that you and your child will be able to tend to all of your new kitten's needs. You will need feeding and water bowls, a collar and ID tag, litter box and litter, brush, metal comb, nail clippers, a bed, a scratching post and toys.

Once needed adjustments are made to your home and your child is educated in caring for her new pet, your kitten will provide years of happiness.