Giving a kitten or a puppy as a Christmas gift is a lovely sentiment... It's the kind of present most cat lovers would have loved to see under the tree when they were kids :-)
And although it may be an appealing idea, it is also a bad one.
Giving a kitten or a puppy for Christmas is a bad idea for several reasons:
Choosing a kitten is a very personal thing... and cannot really be made by anyone other than the person who is going to be the kitten's "parent".
- Pets require a commitment of time and money for future care and expenses. You can't make that commitment for someone else.
Christmas, with all its decorations, parties, dinners and "Hoopla" is the worst time to introduce a new kitten to the household. It is stressful enough on a kitten going to a new home and the holidays are simply too hectic and not the best of times from a kitten's point of view.
- The excitement and anticipation of the chance to choose your own kitten is always special and by giving a kitten as a gift, you rob the recipient of much of the fun of the choosing process.
- If a new pet is an impulse purchase, returning it is not as simple as returning a toaster. The pet may be traumatized by all the changes.
My Child Wants a Kitten For Christmas
Children are usually so excited and have so much to think about at Christmas that it is much better for them to wait until a quieter time to welcome the furry addition to their family. Parents also have so much on their minds at this time of year that trying to settle a new kitten into their routine is the last thing they need.
But I still WANT to give a Kitten for Christmas!
Well, you can still give a kitten for Christmas - sort of. You can give the idea of a gift of a kitten for Christmas... you just aren't going to give the actual kitten ;-).
Buy a china or ceramic kitten and attach a ribbon around its neck promising a real live kitten is the second part of the present.
Make your gift a photo of a specific breed with a printed "gift certificate" for a kitten.
- Choose a special book on cats and cat care as your gift, with the promise of a new kitten -- IF the recipient wants one.
- Purchase a litterbox, scoop, can of cat food and a few toys, wrap them up and let the person open it.
- Buy a beautiful basket and create a personalized gift by filling it with cat toys, brushes and combs, a book on the breed, a video of a movie with a cat in a starring role like "The Incredible Journey", and a card promising to go kitten-hunting together.
- Do your research ahead of time, perhaps even choose a breeder and have some kitten photos to show off. Print one special photo, put it in a silver frame or a photo album. When the gift is opened you can go to the breeder's webpage.
- You and the recipient could take a surprise trip to a breeder's home for a prearranged visit to choose a kitten.
- Let your gift be a gift certificate for a "kitten of your choosing".
What Can a Breeder Do If Someone Wants To Buy a Kitten For Christmas?
Most breeders understand the risk to the kitten in going to a new home at Christmas time and especially as a surprise gift. For this reason, reputable breeders will not sell a kitten at Christmas. The trick is to explain to the buyer why it is not the best time to bring a kitten into their home and to help make suggestions and give the person other options on how to give the gift of a kitten, but bringing the baby home at a more appropriate time.
Are There Exceptions to the Rule?
Of course. If it is a childless household that celebrates in a low key way, then the holidays may be a great time for the new kitten to go to its home since there will be more personal time with the new "mom and dad" since they are off work for the holidays.
Here is one of the tests I use to see if it would be okay to send a kitten home with new owners at the holidays: I ask if they have a Christmas tree. If they don't, then they are probably not the kind of people who celebrate in a big way. If they do have a tree, I ask if they would be willing to remove it before taking the kitten home. If they say "Yes!" eagerly, then they pass the test.
I feel confident that they will put the needs of the kitten first over holiday celebrations.