Whitman & Kipling @ Happy Cats
Thinking of getting a cat or kitten for Christmas? Here’s some advice from Ms Kitty, our very own Sherri Albertson.

Dear Readers,
It’s that time of year again and the Christmas holiday is just around the corner! Here are some tips if you are thinking of adding a warm and cuddling kitty to your household for making sure that your house is safe and secure for feline family members throughout the remainder of the holiday season.

Please keep in mind that kittens are not small puppies. A 12-week old kitten will be more fragile than her puppy counterpart. So be sure your children are old enough to safely handle a kitten and be ready to spend the time needed supervising their play. Accidental scratches or bites can ruin their relationship and can be avoided by proper play training for both the kitten and your daughter.

So before you bring home a new kitten, ask yourself the following primary question: Do I have the time and patience it takes to raise a kitten? Although it is true that kittens take up less time than their puppy counterparts, you must still be able to feed them twice a day (on a regular schedule), scoop their litter box as needed throughout the day and spend some much needed playtime prior to bed. Also take a close look around your house, if there is something that would pique the interest of or could hurt a human infant – it will likely have the same effect on a kitten.

It is best to choose a kitten from a litter raised by a Momma cat with lots of opportunities for socialization. Your chance of having a friendly kitten will increase if the parents get along well with people. In selecting a specific kitten, watch how the kittens interact with each other. A kitten should be playful, but not too aggressive. Unless you have the skills to help bring out their best, you might want to avoid kittens who hide in the corner or appear too rough with their siblings. And expect some temporary behavior changes (shyness or hiding) when going from the rescue (where they knew everyone) to your home (where you and everything around them is new and strange). [You can read our suggestions for introduction your new cat or kitten here.]

Signs of a healthy kitten are clear eyes and a clean nose and ears. Their gums should be pink with no odor to their breath. Their bellies should not protrude unnaturally and the area around their buttocks should be clean with no matting or discoloration. Additionally, their fur should be soft with no signs of dandruff or tiny granules (which could mean parasites).

Now for another challenge – the Christmas tree! This will likely be the most interesting thing in your furry felines’ world during the holiday. But for those who are new to kitty companions – it’s a good idea to leave off decorations like dangly tinsel or yarn ornaments. If ingested, stringy materials can get caught up in their intestinal tracts, which may result in a costly trip to the emergency vet’s office.

If you like sparkly decorations on your tree, garland seems to work much better. You should also make an effort to tieback the tree with thin rope to two small hooks in the wall (if possible) and be careful of the Christmas tree water as additives and released toxins are poisonous to kitties – so make sure to cover the top of the stand.

Any new kitten will take patience and training and you need to be sure, as the future cat guardian, that you are prepared for both the responsibilities and lifestyle changes this little, purring creature will bring with it – especially at this busiest time of year! Although it is true that kittens take up less time than their puppy counterparts, you must still be able to provide a safe and secure, somewhat structured household for them to successfully adjust to their new home.

Take a quick look around your house, if there is a sparkly or shiny Christmas decoration close enough to floor level that would pique the interest of a human child – it will likely have the same effect on a kitten. Especially for the holiday season it will be important to purchase plastic cord covers for indoor, Christmas light cords and be sure to keep poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and sugary treats and cups of hot cocoa up and out of reach.

If you have visitors in town this week, it’s a good idea to remind them of a few things like keeping the toilet seat lids down and quickly opening and closing all doors, including the refrigerator! Also to use caution with folding beds, drawers and reclining chairs. You might also want to create a temporary safe retreat spot for your shyer cat companions like a walk-in closet or bathroom with their litterbox, food and water bowls and your sneakers or socks and a t-shirt or blanket that smell familiar and comforting. [Kittens, especially, need quiet time to nap and adjust, as they are growing babies just learning about the world.]

Looking for a few last minute gifts for the furry loves of your life? According to popular cat websites, some of the feline favs are toys we carry at Happy Cats — the Cat Charmer, Catch Cather or Da Bird cat toys to encourage interactive frolicking and fun, and YEOWWW! 100% organic catnip toys. We also have lots of gift baskets just for the cat lover in your life.

I hope these recommendations help to ensure that the holidays go smoothly for your and your four-footed family members. Have a very Meowy Christmas!

Sherri Albertson