Is it okay to give your friends/family a free kitten?
Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Have you found a kitten or just realised your cat gave birth to a litter? Yes, these tiny bundles of joy are adorable - I mean, who am I to say they're not, I rescue them on the daily! And so many times I thought to myself "gosh Jasmin, you should just keep them ALL and give them ALL a loving home," but reality is, I can't.
So you might be thinking: "I know someone who'd love a cat!"
This could be a friend, family member, your work colleague or maybe even your partner who could do with some cheering up from a floofy ball of joy. And here's where I'm going to give you some tough love advice. So pause your Netflix, scroll down a little further and listen carefully to what I'm about to say...
Here's why you should think carefully before giving away kittens to friends or family.
If there's one piece of advice I want you to take away from this, it's that you should ALWAYS, under ALL circumstances, sterilise your cats and kittens. But what does this have to do with giving a kitten to a family member or friend?
Great question my feline loving friend! If you've found a kitten or your own cat has given birth to a kitten, then it's all too tempting to want to find these babies a home and FAST. But what you may not realise is that legally, all cats in Western Australia must be sterilised (or must come with a sterilisation voucher) before they are re-homed under the Cat Act.*
*Disclaimer: most pet shops, rescues or legitimate pet centres will sterilise their cats before re-homing them, so the above really applies to stray, abandoned and 'surprise' (or maybe expected) kittens from your own cat.
What's wrong with giving my friend a kitten?
Before you start handing out kittens like you're Oprah, you really need to think about the following:
1. How old is the kitten?
Kittens (especially those 3 weeks and under) need specialised care and if they're without mum, they'll likely need an experienced foster carer or be looked after by a rescue. This means they're definitely not ready to be re-homed. As a guide, we say all kitten must be at least 1kg (10 weeks) before they're re-homed.
2. You need to do what's best for the health & welfare of the kitten
This means keeping the kittens with mum, not separating the litter and making sure they are in the best health. Kittens can very quickly decline in health and even the most experienced of carers can have kittens fade on them. If you're not a foster carer and don't know how to care for neonates, then we suggest you contact your rescue (or you can even contact us).
3. Is your friend/family member ready for a kitten?
These guys are long-term commitments. Does your friend travel often, do they have space in their home for a cat (or approval from their landlord), are they financially able to afford the vet bills, food and other costs, do they even like cats, do they have young children and or simply have a lot on their plate right now? While giving someone a kitten might seem overly romantic or incredibly generous, it's in the best interest of the kitten that they go to an ideal home environment/owner. While it may be hard to believe, sometimes a rescue really is the best alternative.
So should I never give a cat/kitten to someone?
We're not saying that some people aren't ready for a cat, because that's not true. What we are saying is that sometimes the kitten isn't ready (sometimes quite literally as they're too young) to be re-homed.
So if you find yourself in a situation where you're surrounded by tiny kittens (and it's not heaven), please ensure you:
1. Contact a rescue/foster carer such as us before re-homing them to anyone
2. Ensure they're sterilised BEFORE they're re-homed (or the new owner is provided with a sterilisation voucher).