When You Give a Cat as a Gift …

Animal expert says do your research beforehand when giving a cat.

Posted: December 11, 2006, 5 a.m. EST

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Many people think of giving a cat or kitten as a gift, with the holiday shopping season well underway. While pets can be wonderful gifts, one should ask several questions before purchasing cats as gifts.

Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, has some tips for giving a cat as a gift this season. Among them:

  • Recognize a healthy pet.
    Whether you’re buying a kitten from a breeder or adopting one from a shelter, you want it to be as healthy as possible, Hanna says. Optimally, kittens should be at least 8 weeks old before being taken from their mother and littermates. If you’re getting a pet from a shelter, try to find out as much as you can about its past and its personality.
  • Learn how to read trouble signs.
    Knowing what to look for in a pet is important. Once that kitten becomes yours, knowing what to watch for is even more important. For example, a cat or kitten might be sick if its gums and tongue look pale. To avoid pet catastrophes, familiarize yourself with your pet’s demeanor and keep a veterinarian’s number handy.
  • Do your research.
    Cats have an average lifespan of 15 years, which means a long-term commitment. Is the owner able to commit to caring for this cat? Cats are independent creatures, but they require veterinary care, love and affection. If the owner feels pressed for time in his or her life, it might not be a good time to think about purchasing a pet.
  • Determine whether a cat would best fit your lifestyle.
    Cats do not perceive owners as “masters” but think of them more like teenagers, Hanna says. Cats will snuggle up to you when they’re feeling cuddly or want something, typically attention.

“If you are set on buying a pet, you should find out as much as you can about the animal. In addition, if you are considering giving someone a pet for Christmas, consider going to your local animal shelter. There are many homeless dogs and cats there that are looking for a home,” Hanna said.

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Marielle    Mississauga, ON, AE

6/29/2007 11:15:01 AM

This article should also point out that Christmas is not a good time to give a pet as a present. The routine is different than usual in the home, and there are a lot of hazards associated with the holiday, such as glass tree decorations, ribbons, candles, and food that can be poisonous to pets.

Marielle    Mississauga, ON, AE

6/29/2007 11:10:27 AM

I got my last kitten as a birthday present, but we already had two cats and got the previous one as a kitten too, so we had experience with the situation, and I had been talking about when we could get another kitten... Don't surprise anyone with a new pet if you don't know for sure they are ready for the commitment. We are planning on caring for our three cats for another twenty years or so (actually until they pass away, no matter how long they live). Everyone should plan ahead that far, or it wouldn't be fair for the pet. You don't give away your children when you get tired of them, do you?

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