Everybody loves kittens. Without a doubt, they’re invariably adorable. However, there seems to be a lot of misinformation surrounding them. Here’s a list of a few of the myths shelter employees hear, which require debunking:
Myth: Kittens can be weaned at 4 weeks.
Fact: If your cat has had kittens, do not try to sell, give away, or bring them to the shelter until they are at least 7-8 weeks old. If you don’t know how old they are, weigh them. A kitten should weigh at least two pounds before it is taken away from its mother. Young kittens do not have fully developed immune systems yet, so taking them away from Mom too early makes them vulnerable to disease. So WAIT until they are old enough. The new owners, whether the shelter or a new "parent," do not want to deal with the heartbreak of a sick or dying kitten. And once the kittens are weaned, get the mother cat fixed. There are way, way too many unwanted kittens in the world that are being euthanized every day.
Myth: A 6-week old kitten is ready to come home with me.
Fact: The corollary to myth #1 is that if you decide to get a kitten, don’t get one that is less than seven or eight weeks old. You don’t want a sick kitten. Also be sure to take the kitten to a veterinarian. Anyone who adopts an animal from the shelter receives a free vet exam for their new pet, and if the animal is sick, it can be returned.
Myth: It doesn’t matter who gives me a free kitten because it was free
Fact: Don’t get a kitten or cat from anyone who won’t let you see its prior living conditions or seems reluctant to answer your questions about the kitten.
Myth: The littlest/sickest kitten needs me the most.
Fact: Don’t select a kitten that has diarrhea, looks weak or thin, is sneezing, or has runny eyes. As mentioned, kittens are susceptible to many diseases and it may have an upper respiratory infection or worse. Contrary to popular belief, outdoor cats are especially at risk for a number of feline diseases for which there are NO vaccines and NO cures.
The more you learn the facts about kittens and cats the better pet owner you will be. If you are considering getting a kitten, your first stop should be the local library for the truth on cats and kittens.