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Need Advice: My mom just got a kitten, but isn't sure if she should keep him!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, hope this doesn't ramble on too much.

My mom - 53yrs young, has never owned a cat, and she lives alone. She got divorced about 10 years ago or so, and sometimes I think she is lonely. She sometimes comes over and takes care of my cats when I am out of town, and seemed to enjoy having them around. So, I suggested that maybe she consider getting a cat. I told her I would adopt a kitten for her on mothers day. She found one she liked through adopt-a-pet online, and they tried to make her take two kitties because she works full-time. She felt like it was too much for her to handle, and the idea sort of fizzled out. HOWEVER between then and now, she's was always browsing the AAP website and would email me kitties that she liked...so I was under the impression she was still interested in a kitten.

WELL, last Friday, my friend called, asked how my mom was doing, and I told her fine, she's been thinking about getting a kitten. Turns out my friend had a stray kitten that her mom found while driving back from Kentucky on the Hwy - in KY that is....well anyways, she brought the little sweetie over, and my mom met him, and decided to take him home. We went to the pet store that night, and I helped her get some things. My mom is VERY NEW to Cats and I gave her some direction on how to care for them and what to do. I even got her a book, emailed her a ton of links, and directed her to here, TCS, which I am not sure if she's even visited or not. I know she loves the little guy, he is just so sweet! He is about 5.5-6 weeks old. Here's a couple photos of him:

Ok so Sat. I went over to her house and gave the little kitty a bath....I saw one flea crawling on his head, and I couldn't get it off...I have never had any experience w/ fleas - and have never had a flea problem w/ my two cats and one dog...needless to say, now I have all my pets on flea prevention and I HOPE I do not end up w/ a flea problem!!!

So Mon. she brought him to the vet for his first checkup, a flea wrap of sorts, and you know the typical thing...de-worming and stuff...they educated her about the fleas, and I don't think she's too happy about that, or the $165 vet bill. She's not rich, and sometimes finances can be hard for her. But I DO KNOW she CAN afford to take care of a cat, she just needs to realize that once this initial round of vaccinations and care are over with, that it gets much better....

So anyways, this kitty has really turned my moms life around...she isn't used to change, and having to de-flea, have a stinky cat box, worry about the extra expenses (as we didn't get him from adoption, just through a friend), and the stress of having a kitten, cat proofing and moving things around in her house has got her totally stressed out. She keeps going back and forth on whether she wants to keep him, or give him away. She has a good friend of hers who's sister was looking to adopt a kitten, so at least we know that we can give the kitten a good home should my mom decide that having a cat isn't for her.

She's called me twice - both late at night just needing to talk and telling me she just isn't sure she can handle a cat in her life....she says he's cute, and loves spending time with him, but she feels disrupted and out of whack. She complains that he gets into everything, he's a little stinky, he's costing her a lot of $, she has the heebie jeebies from the fleas...you know what i mean....I feel so bad..>I love this little kitty i've fallen in love w/ his sweetness....and I'm trying to help my mom understand that kittens are not kittens forever, the fleas and worms will be gone, and he'll get bigger, and not get into things as much, and as long as she trains him right, and treats him good (as of course she IS doing a great job for him), that things WILL GET BETTER! That you bond and form a special relationship that you just can't explain because it is a feeling. She told me that sometimes she looks into the kittens eyes and gets a little creeped out...lol i told her thats normal, cats have a way about them somtimes but I said she shouldn't worry about that.

I want to send her to this post so she can read the responses, in hopes it will help her try a little longer. I honestly feel like she never gives things enough time and seems to give up too soon on things.....but I don't know! If she is having these feelings, would it be better for her to just give him up, or should she try for longer, and if so, how long?

Is there anyone on here that was once new to cats, and never thought they would be a cat OR PET person, feeling disrupted like she does, and had gotten a kitten older in life, who had doubts about it once the kitten was there? Did you stick it out? Give it up? I'd love to hear what you guys think, and how I can give my mom advice. I feel bad but I keep trying to make her feel guilty if she gets rid of him because i totally want her to keep him, at the same time, I don't want her to resent him(or me! lol), or regret getting him - esp. when he's not a little kitten anymore and she feels like cats are just not for her in general. I wish I could reassure her that they become your best buddies, and its a wonderful feeling to be a cat owner...i know it isn't for everyone, but I just wish she would give him more time....your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Thanks for the replies, and thanks for getting through this post!
post #2 of 19
That's a really hard question. I've always known that I'm a cat/animal person, but when I adopted my kittens earlier in the year I felt a bit like your Mom. I was going through a bit of a rough time anyway, and for the first few days I was a bit fussed about having them, mostly because we were just unsure of each other, and I really wasn't convinced that I'd be able to take good care of them all by myself. It was a really brief phase, but pretty disconcerting while it was happening.

If I've read your post correctly, it sounds like your Mom has only had the new kitty for about a week though, which doesn't really sound like a lot of time for her to settle in to having a new kitten in the house. I'd definitely encourage her to wait 2 more weeks or so. Then she'd really get a sense of what day-to-day life with the kitty will be like, and hopefully come to really enjoy the new roommate.

P.S. He looks like the cutest kitten ever, especially with that little black nose and mass of fluff on his head. I love him! I don't blame you for falling in love with him already.
post #3 of 19
I've had cats my whole life, but my bf and i adopted a blind kitten last August and it was a huge change trying to help her make her way around the house, and not move things and try not to freak out when she bumped her head. For cat or non cat people it is still hard for both when you get a kitten as you have to train them and make sure they dont escape or injure themselves etc. Did your mum talk to other people about their experiences. She should be reading lots of books (which often aren't as contradictory as a whole bunch of people). Like you said, do remind her that it wont be all vet bills through kitties life. Buying a toy every now and then, and stocking up on food and flea treatments will not be costly. I cant imagine how tough it is for someone whos never had a kitten and lives on their own. I dont think ive actually met anyone who hasnt had one. She really should have thought this through. Not just for companionship and fun, but preparing herself for setting up her home.

Tell her she needs to give it time. And btw, kittens ARE smelly. The worms will go away. And once the flea treatment has worked, tell her she needs monthly or 3 monthly treatments (which are not too costly) to prevent them coming back. Also being a long haired sweetie, make sure she gets god brushing. Working full time is harder, she would have to leave the kitten by itself, and it could get up to mischief, unless it's in the laundry or a room closed off to the rest of the house, that has food/litter/bedding/water least till your mum gets home, and the kitten is a little older and more house trained.

Sorry i couldnt be more help.
post #4 of 19
Tell your mom she is simply suffering from "post pet 'em depression." I always tend to get a bit overwhelmed and blue feeling after initially getting a new pet. Transitions can be harder for some than others. I have a feeling if she does "bail" at this point, she'll REALLY be depressed.

Hope it works out for your mom and the kitty,

post #5 of 19
Some years ago, when I had never had a cat of my own, I kept my boss's cat for a week... and I got "creeped out" too. I loved cats, always had -- but somehow, at first, I was a little nervous around the kitty, even though he was a perfectly lovely longhaired sable fellow with beautiful golden eyes... so I understand, there can be something a little unnerving about a cat in the house if you aren't used to it. They're very quiet, and they appear when and where you least expect them, and their eyes glow in the dark, for pete's sake!

But then you get over that, when you realize that the soul behind those glowing eyes is gentle and loving and purely innocent.

As for the litterbox... I know you said money isn't entirely growing on trees for your mom, but if she could spring for a Litter Robot, it would eliminate about 90% of the work and 99% of the smell involved. Take a look at litter-robot.com... we have one and are about to order a second one. It's worth more than the price, and there's no finer product for kitties anywhere. They also have fantastic customer service, and a no-hassle return policy.

As you've no doubt explained to your mom, the wackiness of kittens does mellow over time, and a kitty's personality begins to shape itself to you, as he responds to the love and care you give to him. Since she's starting with this little fellow so early in his life, I think that will be even more true for her! Very quickly, he will become her closest companion, and they will know each other so well... they'll have their own little special ways of communicating, their own little rituals and ways they count on each other. I was blown away by the depth of the relationship you can develop with a whole other species!

And once your mom gets past her initial concerns, if she does get a second kitty, she'll have an even happier household, I think.

Please encourage your mom to give herself some time... even just a couple more weeks, I think, would be enough for this little darlin' to become irreplaceable in her heart. My mom and I are already in love with him just from the photos!
post #6 of 19
To tell you the truth, I think having one kitten so young if she's not home much is a bad idea. She'd be much better off having an older cat, or a friend for this little guy.

Kittens are hard work, they're very energetic, they get into everything and it takes a long time for them to settle down. If they have another kitty friend to play with they'll learn what behaviour is acceptable in regards to biting and scratching, and they'll be able to have another kitty to play with and wear them out which will stop them from destroying your stuff.

If she wants a companion, she's better off with an older kitty - one over 3/4 years old, and one that likes being an only cat. She'll get much more enjoyment out of a cat like that probably.

If the wants the fun of a kitten (and yes, they are incredibly fun and cute), she REALLY needs to get a friend for this little one.

As for the expenses - yes cats are an expense, just like everything else in life, but they are worth it. My life is so much happier with my cats, and they're worth every penny. Setting up costs and the first vet check with the vaccinations and spaying is the most expensive time, but then it should be another year before they need any more vet care (fingers crossed!!).

Fleas - if the cats stay indoors, and they get Advantage flea treatment periodically you should never have to worry about fleas. We've never had a flea problem with our cats.

He shouldn't be stinky - what sort of stinky? If the kitten himself is stinky then he probably needs more baths and wipe downs - our kitten was stinky when we first got her, and within a week of regular wipe downs, the stink had gone and it's never come back. If the litter box is stinky, try spending a little more (yeah yeah I know - $$$ but it's worth it!), and get a covered litter tray, and get good clumping litter - it holds in the smell better. Also scoop on a daily basis. If you do all this, you really shouldn't notice any smell.

And tell her to be careful - the little critters steal your heart very fast and before long you wonder how you ever lived without them
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for the replies, great stuff! A lot of it I've told her before, but I think MOM IF U READ THIS - it will only reinforce my belief that you will learn to love him unconditionallly - lol kinda like, um, me! (I sent my mom a link to this forum).

I'm SO TOTALLY checking out that litter-bot for my two furballs, thanks Carol!!!! :P

As for the last post regarding her getting another kitty because he's alone all day....we both know it isn't ideal, we do feel bad, of course it would be nice for him to have a playmate, but honestly, I have known tons of people who only had one kitten, and they came out just fine! I think once she accepts him and is able to handle this one cat, and realizes that it isn't that hard, and very heartwarming, perhaps she'll want to bring another into the home at a later time.....two is just too much for someone who's never even owned a cat before in the beginning. I know some people feel very strongly about this, but I think he'll be just fine! If not, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Also he definitely is an indoor only cat - they are the best kind!

The vet wants to put him on Revolution when he goes in for his 2 week checkup for shots and another de-worming. Any thoughts on that?

ps can't wait to kitty sit for him on saturday, he is just so darn cute, oye!!
post #8 of 19
Hope it all goes well

I honestly think two cats is much easier than one cat, especially if you get them young. People new to cats never believe that, but I swear I have seen so many people at the shelter adopt one kitten, then come back a bit later saying they realise why the kitten really needs a playmate, then come back again, or write in to say thanks for the advice - a second kitten is the best thing they could have done

If your mum really only wants one cat, hopefully this little one will settle down and be fine!
post #9 of 19
I do agree that a companion kitty would make a huge difference... not only in the degree of havoc the kitten wreaks, but also in how happy and well-adjusted he grows up to be. It really is true that two kittens are EASIER than one!

But that's an issue for later -- once your mom has fallen in love, her whole attitude toward a second kitty will most likely change.
post #10 of 19
To give my honest opinion, I think a kitten was a bad idea. I think two is an even worse idea. If you mom came to my shelter, I would steer her towards the many wonderful adult cats. Sure, they aren't near as cute as kittens, but your mom is finding out the hard way how expensive a kitten really is. She's got at least another year of this "kitten" behavior...

Now that I've said that, your mom is wonderful for having taken this kitten. I would strongly suggest she look into adopting a cat that is 6-10 months old, still kitten-ish. She can find some fully vetted at the local shelter. That way, the kitten will have someone to play with. She's already buying food & litter, too.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Believe me, we've gone over the option of an older cat. And I did tell her that having a kitten wouldn't be easy! I know all about this, as does she - I'm pretty knowledgeable about all this stuff - i am a researchaholic, and I have educated her as best I can. She can make her own decisions based on that. AND while she was holding off in the begining, she did consider an older cat. But before anything happened, this "free" kitten came along and just warmed our hearts...The Cat isn't going to suffer or not be well taken care of, it will be fine. He's doing great right now. I am pretty sure her issues have less to do w/ him being a kitten, and more to do w/ the fleas, having her life disrupted in general, and the initial vet bills...if she had gotten a cat from an adoption rescue place, she would have saved some $ and a little aggravation...who knows, lol maybe all this is good for her! Tonight she called me and told me some cute things she thought he was doing. My mom is a very calm person, and I think her and the cat will adapt well together if she gives it enough time. I think she is starting to warm up...and this thread may of helped, she did come on here and read - she isn't much of a poster however.

Also, most shelter workers try to deter people from the kittens and to the adults, w/ good reason - it is harder to find them a home! But if someone has their heart set on a kitten, and they want to enjoy the bonding experience w/ a kitten (It is different, as I've adopted both a 3 yr old cat (vegas - now she's like 7, and an 8 week old kitten (charlie - 4 yrs and still growing) then I don't think there is any reason why not. And I am sure if she see's the cat being distructive or having strange behavior that would lead her to believe that he needed a companion, I am sure she would oblige.
post #12 of 19
Up until last summer I'd never had a cat. Then we got this little 8 week old kitten (Nate's idea, I wasn't sure about the whole cat thing!) and I called him Radar because of his big ears, and he was very sweet and cute but basically I spent the first week in tears because I couldn't cope with him and his energy and his mischief etc.

Now I view it as the best decision ever! Except of course for the fact that we should have taken his brother too.
post #13 of 19
If you get her a well behaved companion cat then it can guide and look after the kitten as it grows, especially since you said the kitten was 6weeks old, and at this age it needs other cats to learn how to play and not use its claws too much etc.
post #14 of 19
That kitten is unbelievably cute. Encourage her to give him to ME!

Seriously.. YES.. my mother went through this with my kittens. I don't think I had those feelings on a large scale with them, though.

When we first got them, we spent $$$ of dollars on them, and bottle fed every couple of hours, had to wipe their butts and give them baths at least once a day. It was a lot of work. To tell you the truth, I was in my element. Even though I was exhausted and frazzled and could barely think of anything else it made me unbelievably happy. I never knew I could be that happy.

Um, so, enough about me. My mom was really flipping out about it. She couldn't stand the few hours of sleep, having to constantly be one step ahead, constant supervision, re-arranging the house, etc. For a few weeks she was really twitching. But... they matured, and started cleaning themselves and eating on their own, and Tom taught them not to be so clumsy. It got a LOT better. She's never regretted keeping them. Not through the vet bills or sleepless nights.

Over the last few months, however.. I've been very sick off and on... and they have been causing trouble. I went through three weeks of illness where I was at home and had to be basically helped out of bed to the necessary.. it was pretty bad. My cats had no sympathy. They made messes, broke outside (our screened-in door was broken, and my dad loves to let them out w/o supervision), meowed constantly, got into scuffles, etc. It was like they had it in for me. I was so sick, and they just kept getting into trouble. That was the only time I ever regretted it, and it got better.

I would say encourage your mom to keep him. If she feels she can't handle a KITTEN, though... adopt him to your friends who have expressed interest for the cost of his meds and vet visits. Then re-think a kitten, and get an older, settled-down, cat. I think, being on her own, a cat will really help her and enrich her life. It has for us.. it's like seeing in black and white and suddenly having the whole world in the richest, most vibrant hues. It's a shock at first, and possibly stressful, but how can you regret it?
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Update on the little black kitten!!! He now has a name: Mickey. AND My mom has definitely warmed up to him! She's kissin' him all over and lovin' him up (fleas & all!). I am confident all will be good now! She's starting to understand what we already know. I'm so happy! Thanks guys for the warm words of advice to her, I really think they helped her adjust to having a kitty. I think they will become the best of buds now....if not already! Also, since those pics, he's really filled out - Esp. his little belly. He loves to play and cuddle too...he's the perfect companion for her!
post #16 of 19
Mickey is a BEAUTIFUL kitty!

I'm glad she is warming up to him some. I think she just needs to time to get used to the routine of having a kitten. He does look like he will be long haired and will require some regular grooming so you might want to check out that section of the board for some tips.

Congrats to your mom for her first kitty. It only takes them a minute to steal your heart and you wonder how you ever lived without them!
post #17 of 19
Aw, I knew she would decide she was kitten-smitten! Who could resist that face!

The kitten is young enough to be considered a rescue, under normal circumstances (obviously not possible given how he was found) he would still be with his mommy. That may be one of the reasons its so hard to adjust to, and yes, it's quite possible that an adult cat would have been a much cheaper and easier option. But cats choose us, and I'm sure they'll get on just fine.

Congrats on your new family member!
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
thank you....I 100% agree that our cats choose us!!!! So was the case w/ both my charlie and vegas! Vegas, my family kind of volunteered ME to take in....she belonged to my grandfather, and when he passed away a few years ago, I took her in....it was def. a change for me as well, as before that I had never had a kitty, or a dog...only birds and fish, lol......and I figured if I could get used to having a kitty, my mom could too! Charlie I adopted...on a whim...after my boyfriend moved in w/ his dog. I figure Vegas needs a companion like her own. i decided to go to one of our local shelters...walked in and there was charlie who WOULD NOT STOP meowing at me! He was so loud and i wasn't sure if I wanted a kitty being so loud like that but once i took him home, I never ever heard a meow like that again....till now when he just HAS to get into the bathroom to drink from the sink at 3am! Anyways at first Vegas hated charlie, but she warmed up quickly....and now they are the best of friends...even if charlie tends to pester her every so often!
post #19 of 19
I am so glad that they are now getting along. He will be a joy to her I am sure.
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