Find out whether you are willing to accept a whole new set of responsibilities.
On an abstract level, most of us adore kittens. Who can resist that cute, furry bundle of joy! There are few sights more endearing than watching a kitten as it explores the big, wide outdoors, which may be just a patch hardly bigger than a handkerchief. How it sniffs the grass inquisitively. How it places its paw with infinite caution on the unknown spot of ground. How it carefully examines a fallen leaf.
You already know that adopting a kitten places additional demands on you, like purchasing the food and other cat essentials, visiting the vet, taking care of the matters of hygiene, and so on, and you are ready to place that additional burden on your shoulders (even if you have a child who promised ever so solemnly that she or he will do everything).
However, before you commit yourself, run a quick check list to make sure that you are also ready to:
Devote your time to the kitten: A kitten needs to be entertained. You need to be ready to play with it, be it with a ball of wool or a specially designed toy. Through play and interaction, the kitten will also bond with its human family and feel secure and loved in it.
A kitten that does not receive as much attention as it thinks it should (and they all feel they are entitled to a vast amount of attention) will wonder around aimlessly and meow most pitifully (not to mention annoyingly).
Accept the not-so-endearing features of cat behaviour. With patience and consistency, you can teach your kitten not to appropriate the pieces of the furniture you want to keep exclusively for human use. However, do assign a nice and warm space for the kitten.
You can also teach the kitten not to scratch your wooden coffee table, but only if you provide something it can scratch, like a scratching post. It is in cat’s nature to sharpen its claws by scratching, and scratch it must.
It is also in cat’s nature to hunt. There is nothing you can do to un-teach your kitten what is in its genes. While still small, it will try to catch insects, and its hunting endeavours are often hilarious to observe. As the kitten grows, it will start bringing home more gruesome living beings (well, formerly living), placing the kill at your feet to show its appreciation for all the love you have given it. If you would rather go without such signs of devotion, place a collar with a bell around your kitten’s neck.
Mediate between your child and the kitten: If you have a young child, you need to teach it how to handle a kitten. Once scarred by rough handling, a kitten will probably grow into an anti-social adult cat that is more ready to administer scratches than to purr soothingly on your lap.
Take a deep look into your motives: Do some honest soul searching. Don’t only ask yourself: Will that kitten fulfil a need in my (my family’s) life? Instead, also ask yourself: Am I (is my family) ready and able to make that kitten happy?
If in doubt, rather forgo adopting a kitten, for the sight of a neglected pet is a sad sight indeed. However, if you concluded that you are not only a cat lover, but also willing to accept a whole new set of responsibilities, by all means go for it. Open your home and your heart to a kitten and enjoy the time you and your family spend with it!