I can't believe our teeny fur babies are now 5 months old. Their perfect little blue eyes have turned amber/green, their faces now fit a little better with their bodies and they ooze confidence. They still have these long bambi legs and their ears forever look far too big for them, but they're certainly on the way to being all grown up! I thought anyone thinking of getting a kitten might like to know how our experience as newbie cat owners has gone so far!
Buying from a breeder vs. rescuing/adopting
Initially, we toyed with the idea of buying a specific breed of cat from a breeder. At the time we assumed cats and kittens in rescue centres and shelters had probably been mistreated in some way. We assumed a rescue cat was unlikely to become a happy sociable pet due to the sheer amount of animals in the shelters; would they receive all the attention they needed? We just couldn't imagine a rescue cat would make a very affectionate companion. But something about paying a breeder for a pet niggled at me. So we had a think and decided to check out the RSPCA and one or two other shelters in our area to see how the animals were cared for.
Binkle's growing fast!
We were truly humbled by the RSPCA. The wonderful work these people do is overwhelming. All the cats had individual play pens, blankets and toys (no cages!) and had workers monitoring them and looking after them constantly. They would work with and play with the cats to bring them on socially - especially those who had been mistreated - to help them trust humans again. They knew aspects of all the cats personalities so as you are looking around, each cat has a clipboard to tell you all about them so you can figure out if you are "right" for each other! We didn't find the right cat for us here as we wanted two, and nearly all we saw on this day were better suited to living as the only pet. However so many of them tugged on our heartstrings, particularly the cats that were head bumping the glass to give us a fuss and sticking their little paws through the gaps to touch us. We gave a donation then left as I was about to burst! I was so emotional on the way back to the car; it sounds so silly but as a cat lover I found it really difficult and quite upsetting. Not that they weren't being looked after well because they were, but because I couldn't save them, I couldn't take all of them home to live with me! It was a good experience to have and I'd recommend it to anyone. If I had it, I would give endless amounts of money to this charity - the work they do is very special.
Best buddies for life
We found Binky and Roo at the Shropshire Cat Rescue shelter in Shrewsbury. This big property had many felines roaming around freely with lots of little kitty houses, bushes and nooks and cranny's for them to hide out in and play. We were greeted by 3 or 4 lovely big affectionate cats at the entrance before we even got to a staff member, teehee! Some cats were kept in large outdoor pens with tall climbing frames and lots of toys. There was also a section dedicated to the older "residents" - like a care home for little old cats! Ours were in the "nursing" block, a bit like a feline maternity unit (awww!) as they were only 4 weeks old at the time. Their mum Buttons was pregnant when she was found as a stray. We had no problem choosing them and as they're sisters they'll grow up together and be company for each other (we wanted this as we both work and didn't want a lonely kitty). We came back when they were 9 weeks old to collect them and hand in our donations. They had already been vaccinated and came with a "going home" pack with lots of advice and guidance plus a shelter magazine with little tributes to their favourite feline residents! Again, these people do such an amazing job and I only wish we could have donated more.
Our preconception of rescue cats was totally wrong. Cats in shelters are given so much love and attention before they go on to new homes. Our kittens are very loveable, very affectionate and have clearly been handled well since they were tiny. They're naughty of course as all kittens are, however they've never once been aggressive or grumpy with us and just love to be where we are. They miss us when we're at work and buzz with purrs and miaows when we get home. They want head butts, kisses and cuddles at 4am every morning. They love to snuggle when we watch TV and they go absolutely bonkers when the laser pen or a Primark bag comes out. And the best bit of all is knowing you rescued them. They could have easily been born as a stray in a cardboard box at the side of the road. But these little mites now live with us - wrestling daily, having lots of naps and Whiskas pouches and they seem like the best of friends. My heart squeezes, I just love them furry little felines!
They take a lot of patience. It's amazing how much a tiny kitten poops and they can potentially ruin and break quite a few things in your home - my advice, Blu Tac EVERYTHING down! You'll need to watch for open windows and doors as they will be curious (Roo was locked in our pantry for 9 hours whilst we were at work one day because she snuck in at breakfast time and we had no idea, we felt terrible! Now we check everything!) Until they're 12 weeks old or so they need lunchtime feeds so leaving work on lunch breaks to go home and feed the kitten is essential for a while! Plus food, litter and vet bills can be all add up (a yearly vaccination booster alone is around £80 per cat!). Kittens are a real handful and if we did it again, I think we would choose adult cats - see this link - and if you're a little more pushed for time or help, an adult cat would be better. But it has been a lovely experience.
If you're thinking of getting a cat I would most definitely recommend checking out local shelters and the RSPCA before you seek out a breeder. Just go along with an open mind, you might just find your perfect furry friend, vaccinated and ready to go with his little bag packed, desperate to come and live with you. They have so many dogs, bunnies, guinea pigs, chickens etc. looking for homes as well. These places run because of their love for animals; they're not breeding animals to make money. Plus you'll be doing a good deed.
Have you ever rescued an animal?
Now we have our pets our house definitely feels more like a home :-)