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Serious Question: Should Kittens Come with an Instruction Manual?

I'll admit that raising kittens is difficult and I need help. Have you ever had a rough time of it?

 |  Sep 5th 2013  |   25 Contributions


I have to admit that I’m much more familiar with raising puppies than I am with raising kittens. I’ve had a few puppies over the years and dealt with all the challenges they present. Though each one was unique, the training consisted of the same basic steps. You had to get past the pottying-outside-only challenges; the basic commands of sit, stay, come and lay; and teaching them to be gentle with their toys. Once you’ve accomplished these steps, the rest gets much easier. Of course, these are extremely challenging times and take a lot of time to get the routine down pat.

Cali Blu says, "You can't find me when I'm hiding under here."

Kittens and kitten care were a whole new experience for me. I’ve had kittens who were raised by their mothers at our house from our feral cat colony. However, they stayed mostly outside and only slept in the garage when their mothers were in there with them or when it became damp and chilly outside. Their mothers taught them all of the important stuff, like pottying under the trees where the mulch was thick and easy to fluff up after doing their business. They taught them where to eat and how to get along with the other cats and kittens in the colony. They taught them to defend themselves and how to cuddle with each other when it got cold. The only thing left for me to do was to provide food, water, shelter, and the occasional playtime with a string or a ball.

Kittens learn to play with each other. Kittens in cart by Shutterstock

I had one kitten who was with us for a little while. Her name was Cali Blu. She was the kitten we found in the storm drain. She was only about five and a half weeks old when we found her and brought her home to stay with us. We knew she would only be with us for a short time since I get hives when I pet cats for any length of time. Knowing this, we teamed with a local rescue to find her the perfect home. However, those weeks that she was with us proved to be quite challenging, and I had no idea of what to do. I knew the basics regarding food, water, and setting her up with a litter box. However, everything else was totally new and quite surprising.

Once Cali Blu got out of her crate, she certainly didn't want to go back in -- despite the presence of our dogs.

We couldn’t let her out to roam the house since we had two dogs who were not big fans of cats. She was also very small. So we didn’t want to take the chance of our dogs getting into a tussle with her. So, we set up a very comfortable kitty condo for her in a room in our finished basement. This seemed to be an ideal place for her since the dogs never had access to the room and she would have her own private space. However, Cali Blu was quite the social kitty. She let us know through endless meowing and knocking things around in her kitty condo that she wasn’t at all happy about not being the center of attention. She preferred to be where the action was. So, my wife and I took turns every couple of hours liberating her up from her solitude to spend time with us on the big screened-in porch where she could play and investigate everything.

Fortunately, kittens also like to sleep a lot. Kittens in basket by Shutterstock

At first it was a lot of fun to have playtime with her. She would pounce on the toy mice we tossed her way, hide under the chairs to dart out after a passing ball, and chase her tail in circles until she fell down from being dizzy. But, as she got a little older and more comfortable, those toys became boring. She was more interested in attacking our legs when we tried to move. She had a method of grabbing hold of our legs with her front paws and spinning down from the knee to the toes. This would have been fine if it was cool weather and we had our jeans on. However, this was the middle of summer and shorts were the typical daily attire. Sharp claws sliding down your legs aren’t at all pleasant.

Kittens don't need much to entertain them.

We also learned that all plants housed on our plant stands would have to be removed. It wasn’t the fact that we had any poisonous plants. It was more the fact that she constantly climbed on them and would knock dirt out all over the porch floor. Also, our wicker furniture became a perfect scratching post, despite the fact that we provided several different scratching posts on the porch for her to use.

"I'm going to climb your bare leg and slide down."

I’ll admit that I wasn’t prepared to have a kitten in the house or on the back porch. She was eventually adopted by a wonderful gentleman and she turned out to be a beautiful and calm kitty. We learned that we needed a lot more education before bringing a kitten home to stay. In my opinion, all kittens should come with an instruction guide.

Did you need an instruction guide for your kitten? Was it easy or a challenge raising a kitten? Share your stories and pictures in the comments!

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About Tim Link: All-American guy, loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir, prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters, considered to be the literal voice for all animals. Author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, Animal Communicator, and consultant at Wagging Tales. 

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