If you are considering adopting a kitten, this post is for you. Have you wondered what it is like to raise a kitten? Both Cinco and Manna were kittens when I adopted them. We have had some really wonderful times together. To keep this post from becoming a novel I’m going to focus on what things were like when we adopted Manna. Hopefully my experience can help you with yours!
Being the Mommy Cat
Manna came into my life when she was only about 3 weeks old. Kittens really shouldn’t be away from their mother until they are 12 – 16 weeks old, but she was found on my Dad’s porch step with no sign of her mother (click here to read more of her Gotcha Story). I already had Cinco who was just over a year old at the time. I had experience with baby animals before, so I figured I could handle the responsibility of raising a baby kitten. Besides, Manna had me at “Meow.”
I’m not sure that people understand how much having a kitten at home is like having a human baby at home. The difference is that the kitten physically matures faster. Manna had to be fed kitten formula every 2 or 3 hours for the first month or two that I had her. That kitty never missed a beat! She let us know it was time to feed her if we were running behind. Manna never wanted me to use the eye dropper to feed her; she just wanted to lap it up off of a small plate. What a mess! I should also mention that kitten formula is really expensive after a while. The memory of that milky face is worth the hassle though.
One of the things noted by the veterinarian the day we took Manna home was that she had fleas. Being that she was only about 3 weeks old, there were no flea remedies that could be used on her safely. What did I do for her?
- Bathe her with baby shampoo.
I would fill the bath tub with an inch or two of water and climb in there with her in my arms. Don’t ask me why I got in there with her, it is just what I have always done with my pets. My husband stood to the side, handing me the soap and helping me rinse her with water from a cup. Manna was not happy about this at all – I ended up looking like a mini-Freddy Kruger had visited me a few times.
- Keep her separate from Cinco.
Getting rid of the fleas would only be more complicated if Cinco got them too. Keeping them separate had a dual purpose; the tests for FIV, FeLV, etc could not be completed at Manna’s age either. We keep baby Manna in the bathroom, separated from Cinco as much as possible. They would still play under the door.
- Pray for her.
I believe that everything belongs to God – including fleas. We prayed that God would take His fleas back and He did! They were gone after about 2 weeks.
Kittens have to LEARN to do everything
Every litter box we tried with Manna was too tall for her to step into. Finally we broke down and started making little litter boxes out of cardboard boxes so they would be the right size. I wanted her to learn how to use a litter box correctly (without me lifting her in every time). Luckily, she figured out how to do her business pretty easily. I think that Cinco helped her out with a few things when she got to be big enough to use his litter box.
Kittens are very clumsy and very curious. If there is trouble that can be gotten into, a kitten will find it. Both Cinco and Manna were no exceptions to the rule. Cinco would climb up to the top of our book case and then cry because he didn’t know how to get down again. Manna once ended up in the toilet bowl and couldn’t get out. I can’t imagine a cat being more angry than she was in that moment! At least she didn’t try to flush it too!
Once Manna could be released from the bathroom, I realized I had double-trouble. Cinco had gotten used to her through the bathroom door, so they were fast friends. Cinco loved having someone to play with. However, Cinco is and always has been a big cat. His back feet were bigger than Manna was. He had to learn that she was too little to fight hard with! Sure, she would take him on, any time, anywhere, but I was terrified that he would accidentally pull her apart.
“Catching kittens” can be a full-time job. Kitten moms get to say fun things like “No! Get off the stove top! The fire is on!”, “How did you get up there?” and “Honey, the kitten is stuck in the couch again!” Just a hint – if you don’t want the kitten to eat something, lock it away somewhere. Putting something up high is only a challenge to a kitten.
Conclusions About Raising Kittens
Cinco is now 8 years old and Manna is 7 years old. They have both survived and thrived. I give credit to God and not myself. There has only been one time that we have ever had to take either one of them to the vet for an illness – another blessing from above. I’ve known people that have had cats develop chronic illness over the years and they have had to put a lot of time and money into the cats’ care. You never quite know what you’re going to get. A few blogs that feature special needs cats are Fur Everywhere and Cat in the Fridge.
Raising kittens isn’t for everyone. If kitten needs and behavior don’t sound like something you can imagine being in love with, I suggest adopting an adult cat (2 years old or better). Adult cats have a much harder time getting adopted and are very much in need of good homes! Cats do calm down and become more confident as they get older. They learn what they are capable of doing and what is risky behavior through experience. Remember that if you have human children, adding kittens to the mix may not be the best idea. Kittens do not always know how to conduct themselves around these small, grabby humans.