Getting a pet is a huge responsibility and one which will affect your life for many years to come, so you need to ensure you have everything in place before your new kitten comes home.
First, if your home is rented, make sure you have permission from your landlord to have a cat. Have a think about the cost of keeping your new pet in terms of impact on your weekly shopping bill and on affording health products and vet bills as he gets older. Is this all do-able?
If you intend to keep your new addition indoors because you live near a busy road, you must carefully consider a cat's needs and be prepared to put time and effort into insuring these are met, with space to roam and scratch posts and climbers for example. Of course, the best way to attend to your cat's well-being is to understand his needs and create a suitable environment.
Follow these tips from the experts at International Cat Care to make sure you have everything you need for your new kitten before he arrives:
Litter tray - A simple open tray will suffice at first, then you could 'upgrade' to a covered tray for feline privacy
Cosy bed - This could be a cardboard box with a thermal, washable fleece blanket or a padded, washable cat bed. Place in a quiet area away from food, water and litter trays.
Safe places - Cats need to be able to retreat to quiet, draught-free, high up and low down spots to escape the stresses of life
Kitten pen - This can be a godsend when you go out or during the night so you can be sure that your kitten is not getting into mischief or coming to any harm
Cat carrier - Essential for trips to the vet or cattery, and of course for bringing your kitten home. Make sure you choose one that's secure and easy to get the cat in and out of and large enough for him as he grows.
- Toys - Cats love to play and anything from a scrap of paper to a cat activity centre can provide hours of fun. Always supervise play with toys with string, elastic or small parts
- Cat flap - Opt for either a simple flap or a battery-operated one triggered by your cat's microchip, which will stop other cats coming into your home.
- Scratch post - Am essential item as a cat instinctively sharpens his claws and marks his territory by scratching. Having a suitable place to do this will prevent him using your expensive furniture!
The cost of the cattery
Have you thought about where your kitten will stay when you go away on holiday? Cats become very attached to places so if you are going away, a good solution is to find a responsible person to care for your kitten in your home. Remember to leave them your vet's phone number and clear instructions on how to care for your kitten.
If you are boarding your kitten, check out the cattery in advance and make sure it is licensed, to a good standard of build, and the staff are efficient and caring. Staff at reputable catteries will ask to see vaccination certificates for your pet. Take familiar items along with you when your kitten goes into the cattery, such as his favourite bed and toys to help him feel more at home.
Pet insurance and one-off treatments such as neutering or microchipping may seem costly, but compared to the alternative of having to care for unwanted kittens or paying for expensive, treatment if your kitten becomes injured, it is a small price to pay.
A guide to kitten costs
Here's a breakdown of the average costs to help you budget:
- Around £60 for neutering a female kitten and £50 for males. Some national cat charities, such as Cats Protection, can offer financial support with neutering for low-income families (contact your local branch for more info and to see if you qualify for help).
- Microchipping costs between £20 to £40, but this is another one-off cost which is invaluable and again, some charities may offer help with the cost.
- Expect to pay around £70 for initial vaccinations.
- Around £4 a week for cat insurance. Some charities and breeders provide four weeks' free pet insurance when you adopt or buy, but shop around to find the best company and policy to cover all your needs.
- Roughly £5 a week for kitten food, but don't be tempted to just buy the cheapest food you find. Find a good quality one your kitten enjoys (expect a bit of trialing!). It's also worth finding out what he ate at the shelter or at the breeder's home - feeding a new food can cause tummy upsets
- Cat litter, depending on the brand and type, costs around £5 per month for one indoor cat.