By Karen Lawrence

"Mommy, can I have a kitten for my birthday?"

"Why don't we get Grandma a cat to keep her company?"

Sound familiar? Probably, but the choice of a kitten or cat is an exceptionally important one. In order for the recipient to feel totally comfortable with their new pet many things must be taken into consideration:

  • Is the recipient prepared to have a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 52 week a year live-in companion that demands daily care and attention?
  • Does their lifestyle allow for the care and attention that a kitten or cat will need?
  • Are they fully prepared for a 10-15 year committment to housing a cat?
  • Do they want a kitten or cat that has a high activity level or one with a relatively low activity level?
  • Is the chosen breed one they are able to handle (do they want large or small in size?)
  • Is there a color they particularly fancy (blue, or white, or pointed)?
  • Does the breed have a coat they are able to maintain (longhair that requires daily grooming vs shorthair with little maintenance)?
  • Is the recipient able to accept the financial responsibity that a new pet requires?
  • If the recipient lives in an apartment, does the management allow pets?
These questions must be answered before a pet can be given as a gift. The fact that answers to these questions are not always readily apparent is the reason that it is the practice of many breeders, and even shelters, *not* to sell their kittens or cats as "presents" or "gifts". Most breeders prefer that a new kitten not be introduced into a strange household during the rush and excitement of Christmas, Easter, Valentines or a birthday. Many will also require that the recipient of the kitten be a part of the selection process; that they visit to pick out their own special kitten or cat so that they get exactly what they will feel comfortable living with.

What's the Alternative?

There are several ways that one could handle the giving of a pet as a "gift". These will save any possible "unpleasant" surprises. Helpful alternative suggestions are:

  • Give a photo of a specific breed along with a gift certificate for a kitten The excitement and anticipation of the chance to choose your own special pet is always welcomed.
  • Give a book on cats and cat care, with a gift certificate for a new kitten IF the receipient wants one.
  • Give a variety of supplies that a pet might need, such as food bowls, litter pan, etc. along with a gift certificate for a kitten/cat of their choice.
  • Or, simply give a gift certificate for a "kitten of your choosing"
  • You and the recipient could take a surprise trip to a breeders home for a pre-arranged visit to choose a kitten.

Most of all, it is exceptionally important that the person who will be the primary care-giver for the new pet has a say in the choosing of that pet. You will want to be certain that if the recipient is getting an animal that will share their home for years to come, it must be that they are fully prepared to look after the chosen pet.

Reprinted with permission, Fanc-e-Mews


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