Millions of homeless cats are euthanized every year, and you know how important it is to spay and neuter cats before they have a chance to bring unwanted kittens into the world. But youve just found a pregnant stray cat, and shes about to give birth. Soon youll be faced with a heart wrenching task: finding good homes for the kittens youve nurtured from birth.
By now, youve probably gotten to know each one and can predict what kind of personality is emerging. And you may secretly have your favorites. But despite your attachment, you know they have to leave. Now your job is to find a responsible, loving home for each of your kittens.
When the Kittens are Ready
The best age to place your kittens is when they are at least eight weeks old, says Carmine DiCenso, manager of the Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center of the MSPCA. They should not leave their mother or siblings before then because they learn to socialize during those crucial weeks with their litter mates. In fact, kittens that are taken away earlier than eight weeks tend to have behavioral problems as adult cats.
Before kittens leave your home, make sure they are examined by the veterinarian, receive their initial vaccinations and are treated for parasites. The mother cat should also have been checked and found negative for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus, either of which may impact the health of the kittens.
The Danger of Free Kittens
Its tempting to give a kitten away to what you believe will be a good home. You may even feel that its wrong to charge for such an adorable creature. But experts say that not charging for a kitten gives the message to some potential adopters that these animals have no value. Studies show that when people pay for something, they are more likely to treat it with respect. Free kittens face a greater chance of being neglected and abandoned than those kittens that are paid for.
If you dont charge something, prospective adopters may also get the wrong impression that raising a kitten does not involve any real costs, says Mr. DiCenso. But someone who pays for a kitten is more likely to be prepared for the normal expenses of proper pet care – immunizations, spaying or neutering – and the veterinarian bills that come when the animal gets sick.
So what should you charge? Think about the costs you may have incurred in raising the kitten and any initial veterinary bills. A responsible person should not object to paying $45 or so for a pet they are in the position to to care for emotionally and financially. A better alternative to advertising your kittens in the local paper is to hang a poster in your veterinarians office. Also, talk to trusted friends, family and co-workers.
The Adoption Interview
Some cats may live a long time – 15 to 20 years, says Mr. DiCenso. The most important thing you are looking for is a home that will be committed to this kitten over her lifetime.
To that end, the interview gives you certain clues about a persons experience with cats and pets in general. You may want to interview family members in their home so you can see what the kittens environment will be like. Find out who the main caretaker will be. If someone thinks their children will take care of a kitten, you have to bring them back to reality. If an elderly person wants a kitten, you need to remind them how much care is involved with a young feline and may suggest they get an older feline companion, says DiCenso.
Make sure you get the persons name, address and phone number, and ask what veterinarian he plans on using. This will reinforce your interest in the kittens welfare. You may tell the interested person that you will call in a week or so to see if you can answer any questions about the kitten.
Get It In Writing
Its a good idea to ask the person who buys your kitten to sign a contract. The contract should ask the person to agree to get the kitten spayed or neutered and provide proper veterinary care. Most important, says Mr. DiCenso, ask to have the kitten returned to you should the situation not work out.