Cat or Kitten - Which One is Right for You
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Cat or Kitten - Which One is Right for You

Cats are relatively easy pets to care for but you could come across some problems with both adult cats and kittens that you haven't given much thought to.If you adopt or buy a kitten from a reliable source you should be given some information on how to look after it. This should include the fact that kittens aged eight to twelve weeks should be fed four times a day until the age of six months, quite a demanding task if you go out to work. As well as the fact that they need feeding frequently they also need lots of attention and time spent playing with them. Even so expect your pet to get up to a lot of mischief then you won't be too surprised when you return home to find your best settee shredded and your much loved Rubber plant dug out of its pot and strewn all over the floor! Kittens soon get bored so even if lots of toys are provided he will soon be off in search of new adventures which could also mean that you'll find bits of poo where they shouldn't be! That shouldn't be too much of a problem though as kittens are quite easy to train to litter and most of them are instinctively clean; however any feline doesn't like to use an already soiled litter tray so if you are out for hours on end they may have to find somewhere else to 'go'. Then there is the cost of neutering to consider as well. Your kitten should not be let outside until it is a couple of months old and even then you must take care, particularly if it hasn't been neutered as felines can be sexually mature as early as early as five months of age! Also if you have young children, or you are disabled or elderly you may need to think twice about adopting a kitten. Children may have a tendency to play with it as though it were a toy whilst anyone who is unsteady on their feet could easily be tripped up.If you already have other cats or a dog or any other kind of pet then you must also ensure that they are introduced to your new kitten in a relaxed and managed way. An older cat may not take kindly to the new arrival and they may never become friends so if your older cat really dislikes Puss then don't force things. Allow them to keep to separate parts of the house and don't feed them together as close proximity to another cat can cause a lot of stress for some felines. Dogs are usually a pushover for cats and even a little kitten can end up being in charge but if your dog is nasty or ferocious or of a chasing breed then you need to be extremely careful when introducing them. I will never forget the sight of one of my kittens in the jaws of a neighbours Alsatian when I was aged about three. That picture has remained with me. The kitten died. Despite all this kittens are, in the main, very easy to look after, much easier than a puppy or even an adult dog as they don't require as much time, effort, training or supervision. Even so you should consider their needs and be sure that these can be met before taking one on. In return you will get a lot of affection, enjoyment and fun. Of course kittens are cute with their big eyes, tiny paws, quirky tails and playfulness but an older cat also has a lot to offer. In theory an older cat should be a lot less trouble. They are probably already litter trained, will have lost some of their mischievousness and are likely to have already been neutered. Drawbacks could be the amount of 'prey' they bring to the door and bad habits they may have picked up in a former home such as jumping on your kitchen surfaces looking for food. It's not always easy to retrain a cat out of any bad habits but any problems should be manageable with a bit of imagination and by you developing a tidy streak! An adult cat will be quite independent, especially if it has lived somewhere where there was access to the outside, but at the same time he is likely to welcome a cosy fire and a knee to sit on. The latter two requirements are particularly important to an elderly cat whose needs are very few but unfortunately a lot of these senior felines are overlooked in favour of younger, perhaps more attractive versions when people visit the animal shelter. The shelter can often continue to fund any ongoing medical care once the cat has a new home but even so these senior cats are still left behind. An older feline probably won't want to go outside very often either; in fact one of my older cats sleeps for about twenty three hours a day, the other hour being spent using her litter tray, eating and grooming! To summarise - in general an adult or elderly cat needs a lot less attention than a kitten and it is possible to leave them alone for longer stretches of time. There are many adult cats waiting for a new home in your local shelter and this may be the best choice if you go out to work and there is no one home all day. As long as you provide Puss with a bowl of water, her breakfast, a clean litter tray and a comfy bed you can leave home quite happily knowing that your cat (and your curtains) will be fine. Above all don't forget that owning a cat, or a kitten, is a big commitment as it will probably live until it is in its late teens whilst some cats have been known to live until well over the age of 20 years!

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