Giving Kittens as Gifts - Good or Bad Idea?
Christmas is fast approaching, and already I am getting phone calls and emails asking if we will have kittens available by Christmas. Most of the inquiries I get during the Holiday season is for "a kitten as a surprise for my [insert name here] (my child, my girlfriend, spouse, friend, etc.). While surprising a loved one with a new kitten may seem like a wonderful gesture, it typically does not end well for the feline. Too many of the kittens given as a surprise "gift" for Christmas end up in shelters before Spring time. Here are a few reasons why cats should not be given as gifts:
Christmas is Hectic
Most homes are filled with noise and activity with holiday guests and family members. The holiday season puts stress on everyone, including pets. There is so much going on during the holidays, and a new kitten in the home requires attention. When a kitten arrives in a new home, it can be stressful to the kitten. It is a new environment, new smells, different activity level, different noises, different place for their food and water dishes, bed and litter box, etc. It is always advisable to let a new kitten settle into a new home for a week or so without major distractions before introducing it to extended family and friends (i.e., holiday guests and friends).
A Pet is a Personal Choice and Relationship
While a kitten buyer may think their friend, child or spouse loves cats, owning a pet is a personal relationship. There has to be a connection between the new kitten owner and the kitten, and they might not feel a connection with the kitten YOU picked for them. Most often when a person decides to add a pet to their life, they spend time looking for one until their heart says they have "found the one" for them.
Pet ownership involves a life-long commitment of time and personal resources. While a surprise gift of a kitten might initially overjoy the recipient, they may be unprepared for the lifelong commitment. We have all seen young children thrilled at the new puppy or kitten they received for Christmas, but the novelty quickly wears off and before Christmas break is over they child is interested in something else. The necessary daily grooming of a Persian kitten is something that many pet owners do not want to deal with and the kitten will suffer for it.
Even if the kitten has its first round or two of vaccinations, there will still be a financial responsibility to maintain the pet's health over a lifetime including food, litter pans, litter, toys, scratching post and cat trees, and veterinary care. Veterinary care (without taking into consideration any catastrophic health problems) will cost approximately $100 - $300 per year. Preventive and consistent care are vitally important to a pet's overall health. Additionally, it may cost anywhere from $70 - $300 to get kitten spay or neutered. Additionally, if the pet is a Persian cat, there is a financial cost for grooming and bathing if the new owner is unable to do this themselves. Surprising someone that may be financially unable to care for the cat is not fair to the person or the cat.
Most people who contemplate getting a pet spend time with advance preparation for that pet. Advance preparation may include: pet-proofing the home, buying food and water dishes, litter box and litter, grooming supplies, bedding, food and more. When one receives a pet as a surprise gift none of the advance preparation is done and the pet and new owner suffer for it.
Living with a pet creates a change in lifestyle. A person that lives alone may prefer that and not want the responsibility of caring for an animal as a pet totally depends on its owner for food, water, healthcare, safety and companionship. People often make the mistake of thinking a cat would be a great gift because of the impression they are low maintenance compared to dogs. A cat does not require obedience training, housebreaking, or daily walks. However, cats thrive in homes where there are a consistent routine and interaction with their owners.
If you want to help someone find the purrfect match for them, wait until the holidays are over and take the time to help them with the preparation and any necessary education of care for that particular breed or species pet. Let the potential recipient of the kitten decide whether a kitten is what they want and if so, let them make the connection.
PLEASE NOTE: Pelaqita Persians provides the feline information on this site as a service to the public. Pelaqita Persians does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, or product. Diagnosis and treatment of specific conditions should ALWAYS be in consultation with one's own veterinarian. Pelaqita Persians', and Susan and/or John MacArthur, disclaim all warranties and liability related to the veterinary advice and information provided on this site.