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Every Christmas, a number of people buy a kitten as a Christmas present, perhaps for a child or some other cat loving family member. After all, kittens are so cute, aren't they? Surely the person you are thinking of will love it, won't they? However, this is most definitely NOT a good idea, for reasons which will be made clear in a moment.
But there may now and then be occasions when the Christmas period is a good time to get a new feline addition to the family, and this will also be discussed.
Giving a kitten as a surprise gift is just not a good idea, tempting as it may seem. Cute kittens very soon grow up into cats, and cat ownership is something which needs to be considered carefully. A cat is for life, not just for Christmas. And a cat's life these days can easily be 16-18 years, sometimes more than 20 years. And a cat is a responsibility. A cat owner needs to feed her cat, clean out its litter trays, provide it with toys and affection, take it to the vet regularly, and make sure there is someone to take care of it if she is going to be away overnight or going on holiday. These things take time and effort, and overall cost quite a lot of money. They should not be started on impulse. So cat ownership is definitely not something which should be inflicted on someone else as a surprise gift.
Every year, some children are given kittens as surprise presents at Christmas time. It should be clear from the above that you should definitely NOT do this. If you are intending to, check first with the child's parents that they actually want a cat, and are aware of what cat ownership involves. Don't expect any child to take responsibility for looking after a cat, however keen they may be on the idea. Children can rarely be relied on to do this, and what happens when the child gets older, and goes away to college or for work, for example? To repeat, cat ownership needs to be considered in terms of approximately 20 years, not just something for the Christmas break.
Every year, after Christmas, cat rescue organisations, most of them already bursting at the seams, are inundated with kittens, most of them unwanted gifts. They then have to be rehomed, with all the work and heartache that involves, and it is also very disrupting for the poor kitten. Don't become a part of this practice!
For most people, a new feline addition to the family at Christmas is not appropriate, even if it is not a gift. Cats need peace and quiet when they are introduced into a household, and a chance to get used to a new home. Generally, Christmas is a busy and hectic time, with visitors, changes in routine, and people coming and going. This can be very frightening for a new cat. There will be Christmas trees and decorations, which cats are likely to try to play with. They may even try to eat some of them, and poisoning is not unknown. If you are intending to get a cat or kitten, consider carefully what you will be doing over the Christmas break. It might well be better for you to wait until the festivities are over, and you have more time to devote to your new feline family member.
For this reason, many rescue centres will not re-home cats, and most particularly kittens, during the Christmas period, and often not until well after New Year. So if you ask for a cat, and the organisation refuses, try to understand why. They are only basing their decision on past experience, and trying to do what is best for the cat.
For a few people, it may be fine to get a cat at Christmas, in fact this could even be the best time. If you do not celebrate Christmas at all, or have a very quiet time, with no visitors and everyone at home, it is fine to get a cat at this time. Perhaps you normally work long hours, but have an extended period off work over the Christmas and New Year break. In that case, this might well be the best time for you to accustom a cat to its new home...but do be aware that well meaning family and friends can decide to visit and sabotage attempts to have a quiet and peaceful Christmas break.
If the above applies to you, discuss your plans carefully with the breeder, cat rescue organisation, or other place from where you plan to get your new cat or kitten. If your circumstances are appropriate, they may well agree to you having a cat at this time of year. However, do bear in mind that you will need to have everything ready in advance for your new cat, as shops may be closed, and vet's surgeries will only be treating emergencies. Christmas Eve is not a good time to find out that you really, really need some more cat litter!
Finally, it may be that there is a cat which really needs a home at this time of year. Perhaps you have found a stray, or need to take in the cat of a friend or relative who can no longer keep it. If that is the case, of course you should help out if you possibly can. But again, bear in mind that it might be better to wait until after Christmas if it is at all possible.
As you will now have gathered, the whole idea of new cats and Christmas involves quite a lot of complicated issues. So do think carefully before trying to acquire a a new cat at this time of year. If in doubt, wait until January, let things in your house get back to normal, and then bring home your gorgeous new family member.
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