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Many people picture a cute kitten sitting under the Christmas tree with a ribbon around its neck, and consider it the ideal surprise Christmas gift for a loved one. When considering giving a kitten (or cat) as a Christmas gift, please think carefully to make sure it is a suitable gift for the recipient.
A Long-Term Commitment
Owning a cat is a life-time commitment so please think long and hard before you bring home a kitten at Christmas or give that responsibility to someone else. Sadly many kittens (and cats) end up back in shelters after the Christmas period because they were unwanted gifts.
Affording a Cat
In their first year of life, kittens can be expensive. They usually require 2-3 veterinary visits in their first year; for vaccination shots, and to be spayed or neutered at six months of age. Cats will also need regular worm tablets and flea treatments, an annual vaccination and check-up, and cat owners needs to be able afford emergency vet visits and medical expenses if the situation arises. In addition to the cost of their health care needs, cats require food and treats, litter and a litter tray, bedding, toys and a scratching post. The financial commitment is ongoing for the duration of a cat’s life.
Time and Patience
It takes time and energy to train a kitten. Just like children, kittens need to be taught how to do things and the difference between right and wrong. Not all kittens learn quickly, so patience and time is paramount. Cat owners need to be prepared to teach their kitten how to use a litter box so that they don’t urinate on the floor. They’ll also need to be introduced to a scratching post so that they don’t scratch the sofa or other household furniture.
Timing is Everything
Christmas is typically a busy and sometimes stressful time of year for families with parties and celebrations, visitors and house guests. It may not be the best time to bring a new kitten or cat into the home. Ideally, the recipient needs the time available to spend with their new kitten and the opportunity to kitten-proof their home beforehand. It is often much more practical to welcome a new kitten into a home after the holiday season when everyone is more relaxed and settled into their regular routine.
Finding a Perfect Match
You may think that a long-haired fluffy kitten is cute and the perfect gift, but does the intended recipient have the time or want to groom a long-haired cat on a daily basis? Do they have a particular breed or colour in mind or would they rather adopt a senior cat than a kitten? To ensure a long and happy union, it is vitally important to match the right cat to the right family, and the best person to do this is the cat owner themselves – they know exactly what they are looking for in a cat. Things to take into account include the cat’s personality, grooming requirements, how much attention they require and how they will fit into the lifestyle of their new family and any other pets.
Give a Gift Certificate
If you have your heart set on giving a cat as a Christmas gift, then why not consider a cat themed present accompanied with a handmade gift certificate for a local breeder or rescue organisation so that the recipient can select their own cat after the craziness of the holiday period has settled down.
Remember, a cat is a gift for a lifetime.
Have you ever given or received a kitten as a Christmas gift?