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. Owning a cat or kitten is a responsibility that lasts for many years so it’s essential to be prepared for the commitment that comes with it.
A kitten for Christmas is a cat for life
Owning a cat is a life-time commitment. A small and playful kitten will soon become a full-grown adult cat requiring long-term care. With an average lifespan of 15 years of more, it’s important to think carefully 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.
The financial costs of owning a kitten
While the initial cost of adopting a kitten for a Christmas gift may seem affordable, there are ongoing costs to consider. In their first year of life, kittens usually require 2-3 veterinary visits; for vaccination shots, and to be desexed once they are 6 months old. Cats will also need regular worm tablets and flea treatments, an annual vaccination and check-up. Cat owners need 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. This financial commitment is ongoing for the duration of a cat’s life so it’s important to evaluate your budget and ensure you can provide for the long-term needs of a cat or kitten.
Kittens require time and attention
It takes a significant amount of time and effort to train a kitten to ensure they grow up into a well-behaved adult cat. This time spent together also helps to build a strong bond between the kitten and its owner. Will the intended recipient of your Christmas gift have the time to teach a kitten how to do things and the difference between right and wrong? Remember, not all kittens learn quickly, so patience is essential. Cat owners may need to be prepared to teach their kitten how to use a litter box so that they don’t accidentally 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.
Is Christmas the right time for a new kitten?
The festive season is typically a busy and sometimes stressful time of year for families with parties and celebrations, visitors and house guests. Christmas 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. Kittens are curious and often mischievous too. If you decide to welcome a kitten at Christmas, you will need to cat-proof your Christmas tree, and keep toxic Christmas plants out of reach. It may be 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 the perfect match
You may think that a long-haired fluffy kitten is cute and the perfect Christmas 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? 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 person or family. 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 and energy levels
- grooming requirements
- how much attention they require
- how they will fit into the lifestyle of their new family
- how they will get on with any other pets.
Alternatives to giving a kitten for Christmas
If you have your heart set on giving a kitten or cat as a Christmas gift, then why not consider a cat themed present accompanied with a handmade gift certificate. After the craziness of the holiday season has settled down, the recipient can select their own cat or kitten from a local breeder or cat rescue organisation.
Remember, a cat is a gift for a lifetime. So it’s important to be 100% sure that the intended recipient is ready and able to provide the kitten with the love and care they deserve well beyond the Christmas season.