Adopting a kitten is not just fun and games
There is a general misconception among aspiring pet owners that kittens require less maintenance.
I always held the belief that caring for a kitten would be a walk in the park as opposed to owning a full-grown cat. After all, they are smaller and would require less maintenance, right? Well, not exactly.
Earlier in February, I had adopted a month-old kitten from a mother-daughter duo who were caring for a kindle of furbabies.
My desire to own a pet has always been met with objections from my father as he believes no one will be available to care for it during the weekdays. He only had a change of mind after observing my interactions with my cousin’s cat, Nora, for the past one year.
While still on a job hunt this time last year, I cared for my cousin’s kitten. Every afternoon, I would make my way to my cousin’s place to feed Nora lunch and play with her for an hour or two before making my way back home.
Ecstatic that my father had finally given me the green light to own a pet, I started spending my evenings researching cat care and behaviour. This included watching hours of YouTube videos and reading countless articles on how I could go about creating a safe and comfortable environment for a kitten.
I also sought the advice of two of my cousins who are cat owners as to where and when kittens should be brought for vaccinations, and worked out the costs of it.
Before bringing the kitten, named Yessenia, home I had even prepared all the essentials at home. I set up her litter box, purchased a good mixture of wet and dry food, and prepared a pet carrier. Living in a HDB flat, I also meshed my windows to prevent her from having a nasty or fatal fall.
With all the preparation done, I envisioned being the best cat mom I could possibly be. I pictured myself giving Yessenia all the love, care and attention in the world.
In hindsight, I might have been a little overconfident.
While her arrival was planned to a tee, it still couldn’t prepare me for what I was about to experience as a first-time cat owner. The first night with her was far from peaceful. Yessenia stayed active even at odd hours, biting my feet and inadvertently kept me awake.
This, however, was only the beginning of what was to unravel over the next few days.
She began to nibble everything within her sight — iPhone charging wires, newspapers and even styrofoam boards.
The tipping point was when Yessenia swallowed newspapers and plastic packaging that resulted in a costly trip to the vet. This was the moment I had a rude awakening that having a kitten isn’t always going to be sunshines and rainbows.
Multiple follow-up visits to the vet only made me learn how important it was to budget accordingly every month. Owning a pet comes with plenty of expenses including food, veterinary care, grooming, training and toys.
In the midst of chasing after the energetic feline, cleaning up the mess and rushing her to the vet for check-ups, I also ended up losing weight. I was simply too busy and exhausted to prepare my meals — even on days I got to work from home.
I quickly recognised that to be a good cat mom, I had to start taking care of myself first. With this in mind, I began to make changes in my routine to ensure that I had enough time to take care of myself too.
There is a general misconception among aspiring pet owners that kittens require less maintenance. However, the immune system of a kitten is not as strong as a full-grown cat, which could potentially cause health issues such as parasitic infections.
While adopting a pet can be an exciting and rewarding experience, it also comes with a significant amount of responsibility that many may not consider before adopting one.
Each year, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) receives anywhere between 50 and 60 suspected cases of abandoned pets. Pet welfare groups were also concerned about rabbits being abandoned after the festive season that celebrated the Year of the Rabbit this year.
Pets are a lifetime commitment as they require ongoing care and attention throughout their entire lives — not just at the stage when they seem adorable.
While I encountered some initial costs and challenges, Yessenia has brought meaning, joy and love to my life.
She has also taught me a thing or two about responsibility — learning to care for another living creature and to understand the consequences of my actions.
My experience is also a stark reminder that we shouldn’t make fleeting decisions when it comes to owning a pet. Instead, one needs to do their research and be ready for the most unexpected situations.
Each cat comes with its own personality and temperament. Hence, it is important for aspiring cat owners to choose one that best fits their personality and lifestyle.
By doing ample research and choosing a cat that can thrive in your care, you are doing your part to reduce pet abandonment and instead, promote responsible pet ownership.
And while I have always dreamt of having multiple cats, I’m good with just one for now!