The last three cats I took in were seniors who needed re-homing. Back in the summer, the third of these wonderful cats died at the mighty age of 19. We decided as a household that we would get a kitten. It felt like a rather indulgent thing to do, rather than finding another older cat in need of rescue. He arrived in early November.
We take kittens and puppies alike from their mothers far younger than they would leave in the wild. We do it so that they will bond with us as parent substitutes. It’s not a decision that is particularly in the interests of the creature, and I’ve been very aware of this. He has, however, not shown much sign of distress – just that first night when he didn’t know where to sleep and was clearly missing the kitten puddle he had been part of.
It’s been a long time since there was last a kitten in my life – back in my own childhood, so I’m not entirely confident about what it takes to be a good cat parent. But, I’ve tried to be a decent stand in for the kittens he would have rampaged about with, and the mother cat who might have rolled him over when he get too boisterous. I get chewed a lot, because I let him play with my hands like I’m another kitten. My legs are covered in claw marks. But when he’s not in crazy-kitten mode, he’s sweet and snugly.
I don’t want to punish him for being a kitten, and part of being a kitten is the play fighting and rampaging. I do reward him with extra fuss and attention when he does things that I like. We shall see. At the moment it looks like he’s willing to figure things out and be more co-operative – often an issue in the mornings when he wants to be where I am, which for him means on my keyboard and the diary and notes I work from. As I type this, he’s under the table, loudly killing a toilet roll. I think overall he’s more cooperative with me than he was on arrival.
At this point I have no idea if I’m being a good cat parent or not. I will find out over time, as the habits we build settle into something and I find out more about who he is. I expect kittens are a lot like people in that environment will have a big impact on development and behaviour. So, I try to make sure he is entertained and gets enough attention, and that he is happy. I’ve always thought the parenting of creatures and children alike should have more room in it for happiness than is often the case. I don’t mind if he isn’t obedient, that’s not what I seek in raising a young creature, but I do really want him to be happy.0060 (final comment there from the kitten himself as he joined in with the typing.)