By Khaula Siddique
Dear Sister and Fellow Future Cat Mom,
I saw your post in the group. You want to get a kitten. You have questions. Where to get a kitten? Which breed? How much do they cost?
The first question you need to ask however is to yourself, are you ready to adopt a new member into your family? Are you going to commit to “as long as you both shall live?” If not, please dont buy a kitten because your kids really want one, your neighbor has a gorgeous Persian and you need to keep up, you saw one at the pet store or on TikTok and thought it was really cute and want to have bragging rights to the next feline viral sensation. Adopting any animal is a commitment.
One very important but rarely discussed topic is how we treat animals. They are not just a possession that you acquire and discard at your whim or convenience. The Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) loved and treated all animals with kindness and taught his followers to treat animals with kindness and dignity. He is known to have a fondness for cats (he had a pet cat named Muezza) and there is a story (unfortunately I couldnt source it-but I have been hearing of it since I was a child) of the sleeping cat on his robe that he didnt disturb but rather cut his robe so he could wear it to prayers. In the West cats have been handed a rather bad stereotype for being mean and uncaring however in the East we feel very different about them. Just look at Turkey! Cats are highly intelligent, incredibly clean, affectionate and caring. They are the purrfect companion! Speaking of Purr-fection, there is evidence that a cats purr has healing properties.
So when you decide that you are ready to commit to having the best animal companion ever, here are some answers to common questions.
There are many cats and kittens available for adoption, they are waiting for loving homes. Unless you plan on “Showing” your cat, as in putting them in actual competitive shows, please dont worry about what breed the cat is. Especially if you are a first-time cat owner, Persians are stunning to look at. Not so much to clean up after! They need regular brushing and proper care for their luxurious coats. Besides the fact that you will be constantly vacuuming up their fluff from everywhere. We have three cats. One of them we got from Pet Smart when a foster cat had a litter of kittens. Pet Smart had put us in touch with a vet when the time came to get our precious prince neutered. The cost was completely covered in the purchase price. This was a huge win, especially because we found our Vet and she is a gem!
Caring for a Kitten
A new kitten will take some time to get accustomed to the new environment. They may be curious and confident, exploring their new home or they may be timid and hide under the sofa. It is best to keep them in one room, where you will be most of the time for a day or more as needed. Before you bring your precious little bundle home be sure to set up the place with a litter box (they are really smart and you only need to show them once or twice) some toys (they love chasing things), a bowl for water and a bowl for food. We keep food and water in the kitchen and the litter boxes in the basement where they can have privacy to do their business. Unlike dogs who could not care less who is watching the show, cats need their privacy when using a litterbox. They will also immediately bury it. Make sure to scoop out the litter box every day and change the entire litter with fresh litter as needed (can be once to three times a week). The first couple of days you will want to keep the litter box where you are keeping the kitten, dont worry when you relocate the litter box just show them where it is. Cats are very clean, they wont go anywhere but their litter box! Get a scratching post and show them how to use it, you can take their little paws and run them gently down the scratching post, they will get the idea. Discourage them from using the sofa as a scratching post by giving them a little spray of water from a spray bottle if they use the sofa or climb on counters and you dont want them to. My cat loves to sit on the counter and watch me cook, he also loves to snack on the ingredients I give him like cheese or cream. Never give your cats raw meat!
This is a debatable topic, however, I will stick to my experience and advise you to get wet food only. I dont like dry food even though it is convenient. I dont feel anyone is supposed to eat processed food, I especially would not give it to my precious felines. And I learned this the hard way when my female cat got kidney stones. We switched all the cats to wet food and they lost weight and became more active. Think about it, cats have existed for thousands of years, they werent eating desiccated, processed food! If you have the time and energy to cook for your cat that is a great option. You can always simply boil them chicken, or any other meat. That way you can keep it slightly harder than the soft canned food which would be good exercise for their mouths and jaws and closer to their natural food. Just a tip, you can get both wet cat food and the litter in bulk at Costco and it is quite economical. I feed my cats three times a day, some people feed their cats only twice-you just adjust the quantity. The average cat needs only 4-5 ounces of canned food per day. For kittens it will be less.
Keeping Your Cat Active and Entertained
You can train your cat to walk on a leash and I will forever regret not being able to do this (time constraints) it is great to be able to take your cat for a walk, to a picnic or on road trips with you. Start when they are still kittens. Cats are very intelligent and curious, they love to explore and keeping them entertained like that is great for their health and happiness. You can also get cat backpacks so if they feel like they are done walking and need a ride you can pop them in the backpack. My cat who watches me cook likes to sniff all the ingredients, not just because he is snacky, but because he is curious. So I give him a little sniff of different things (dont let them lick/eat onions or garlic though) and he gives me that look “oh I was wondering what that was in your hand!” They like to hang around you when you are doing something so let them be “involved” when possible. Dont forget to play with your cat, once you get to know them you will start to understand their body language. They love a game of hide and seek, they love chasing strings and some can even fetch little stuffed toys for you to throw again.
Dont Waste Money on Expensive Cat Beds
Dont, just dont! Your cat will probably like the box it came in more than the actual bed! Also, cats like to sleep wherever they feel comfy and safe. Once they have established their favourite human they will sleep with that human on that humans bed! Each of our cats has their own favourite human and they sleep with that human. This is very therapeutic, they will snuggle up and cuddle with you and you get the benefit of their healing purrs!
You need to get your cat/kitten shots (rabies etc) and the best thing you can do to keep your cat healthy is to keep it inside. I know this sounds like it goes against nature but there is traffic, coyotes and feral cats that can harm your cat. They can also get worms, fleas or ticks. You can walk it on a leash or take it on trips to the beach etc. Get your cat neutered or spayed when they are about 5-6 months old. This will stop them from having unwanted pregnancies, marking their territory and they become even more affectionate and mellow. Make sure your cats food bowl, water bowl and litterbox are clean!
I hope that answers some of the questions you may have! Please remember if you decide to adopt, you must understand it is a lifetime commitment. Pets become very attached to their home and family, they suffer depression and withdrawal if they are given away and often dont find a forever home as many people dont understand why the pet is depressed and dont want it then.
About the Author
Khaula Siddique, artist at Khaula’s Art, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now paints stories on large walls. She loves bringing art to the community and achieves this through interactive art activities and public art projects. When she is not painting, she is over-indulging her large eccentric orange tabby who part-times as her critic and her muse. You can find her art shenanigans on her website, Khaula Siddique.com.