Kitten always hissing

lucicat

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Alas, no, I couldn't afford another cat.
I understand the sentiment, but it really does make a world of difference. And often you can adopt kittens for very little through shelters (I know our local one just had a Black Friday deal where they were almost giving them away). It's a bit more cost in food and litter but not a lot. something to consider. it does seem strange for a kitten to be soooo incredibly people shy from a breeder. . .
 

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Hi. I am wondering if this kitten was socialized before you got her? I would suggest you read up on socializing feral kittens for hints.

That said I will tell you about Cami. My mom got 3 feral month old kittens that were rag doll mix. Cami was nicknamed huff & puff before she got her adopted name. What worked for me was ignoring her hissing and just putting her (& her siblings) on my chest, then puuuurrrrrring at them. Cats learn best from other cats so if I’m 3 months she is still afraid of you then I would reconsider getting a second well socialized cat.

I think maybe only leave dry food out, when you are not home or asleep. To help her realize that you are the good giver. I would suggest chicken or turkey (onion/garlic free) baby food. Rag dolls come when called and are great cats (except they roll off things 😉.) Cami hates being petted to long or being to hot. So we have to watch her body language closely and get a nice pin cushion type of brush to get her undercoat/make brushing pleasant. However all three kittens will let us carry them belly up and are super sweet!

Hang in there!
 

ArtNJ

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This kitten is both beautiful and really very much unusually difficult. However, I and multiple others have disagreed with your approach. Your forcing yourself on her. I've never seen that work, and don't see why it would. Your scaring her trying to get her "used to" you. Treating her like a vet might treat a lioness. Makes total sense if you need the animal to tolerate you touching her for veternary reasons, and zero sense if you want an actual bond.

It sounds like you tried a traditional approach for two weeks then totally gave up and shifted gears. More patience might have won the day. I'd certainly go back to the low key methods, giving her as much time she needs.

I totally sympathize with the difficulty level. This cat is acting like a distrusting adult rescue, not a kitten from a breeder. Just, respectfully, think you are going about it wrong.
 

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I don't know if this was already addressed or not. I'm curious if the breeder actually provided a legal, binding contract when you bought the kitten? Is the cattery registered with TICA or CFA? Or when you say breeder, are you referring to someone who is raising kittens as a hobby?

The differences can be vast between the two. Professional breeders will always be sure to properly socialize all kittens in a litter before letting them go to their homes and will hold them back until they are ready. That includes even if they are not weaning properly (I know this because our Maine Coon kitten was late to weaning and we were being kept apprised of this just in case the breeder decided to hold her an extra week to be sure she was eating ok).

A contract is to protect you, the cat and the breeder. Some years back, I nearly adopted a purebred Ragdoll that came to a local rescue because someone claimed "they were allergic". We went to a meet and greet and to make a long story short, the cat lunged at me for no reason while I was just sitting on the couch talking to the owner. A Ragdoll! We kept talking still about adopting the cat, I was shown the contract that would be turned over to me so I was able to get the breeders name. When my husband and I left, we called the rescue lady and told her what happened and that we could not bring this cat to our home since we had resident cat and it wouldn't be fair to him (or us). We did, however, instead get in touch with the breeder and told her about this because I saw in the contract that the breeder had "the right of first refusal" which meant the Owner, should have called the breeder first to see if she wanted the cat back. Well, she did, and wound up rehabilitating said cat and eventually rehoming her (we kept in touch). Turns out, there was no "allergy" involved - the cat had most likely been treated unwell, and they wanted to get rid of it because of it's subsequent behavior.

My point of that is good breeders will care deeply about their cats even once they leave their homes. They will try to find solutions and after rereading all of this, it doesn't sound like your breeder is being very helpful. I know I initially suggested trying to pick your kitten up and soothe her now, reading more of this it sounds like something is really amiss in her behavior - a missing puzzle piece of some sort. And yes sometimes being of the opposite sex that a kitten is used to can be the thing (this did happen with my husband and our two female cats for the first month or so), sometimes it's an odor they dislike (cologne??? cigarettes???), or some other unknown trauma. Or just bad socialization that the breeder is refusing to acknowledge.
 
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cat nap

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So this evening, I sat down on the floor with her bowl of food, and waited for her to come to me. She's quite comfortable eating like that, me sitting with the bowl against my legs, but this time, I showed her my hands, and gently brought them in toward her face, in her clear view.

Immediate hiss and her backing away.

We played this game for 30 minutes, her trying to get close to the bowl, and me trying to slightly pet her, but always making sure my hands were in clear view. No sneak pets. Often she gave up, sat about 1 foot away, and mewled sadly. I tapped on the food bowl, reminding her what was in it, and she'd try again. It took 30 minutes to be able to get the slightest touch, a gentle graze along the edge of the fur of her head, and her pushing her head against my hand to try and get underneath it to get some food before that.

So, progress. Minor, but it's something.
NovusAnimus NovusAnimus ....you are making progress.
Even this little bit, is a breakthrough.

I also think since you work from home, that you will be the best person to socialize your little kitten..(sorry I missed reading her name...so I'm calling her little kitten).

There is some great advice on this thread. And trying different things may lead you to slowly progress further.

Since the above worked....Can you try feeding her out of your hand.?
(I know this is not ideal...since you don't want her to get used to biting your hands....but just trying it, might see how she reacts.)

I really like your "bowl method", with covering your hand....so she has to push against your hand.
 

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I'd just be careful not to create another issue while trying to solve one.. Personally I wouldn't "block" her access to food like that, she's skittish enough and you wouldn't want to create an additional food related anxiety. With treats, by all means I'd do it, let her push her comfort zone, but with regular food, it sounds cruel-ish to limit her access to her bowl and not worth it, imo.
 
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NovusAnimus

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I don't know if this was already addressed or not...
The breeder seems invested. I've been e-mailing her a lot about various things, and she's convinced the kitten just needs a little push. Her cattery is TICA listed, and she had me sign a contract preventing me from ever declawing her, so I don't think she's a scammer or bad breeder. :confused:

It could very well be the extreme difference in her environment that makes her hiss, from a cattery and a female breeder, to an apartment with two men (and my roommate is stinky!) What's most peculiar is her behavior is otherwise amazing, so well behaved and considerate, and she has no trouble showing her belly when I'm playing with her with a toy and she gets into it.


NovusAnimus NovusAnimus ....you are making progress.
Thanks. In the past 24 hours I've managed to ease her into actually being touched around the neck and shoulder while eating, and having her not flinch for 30+ seconds while I gently pet her with my fingertips in that area, full contact to the skin, not just fur edge. Slow and gentle, very slow and gentle on this.

If I hold out a treat for her, and she's hungry, she'll up to the treat, bop it with her nose, and wait for me to drop it.

And I didn't name her to maintain anonymity. ;)

I'd just be careful not to create another issue while trying to solve one.. Personally I wouldn't "block" her access to food like that, she's skittish enough and you wouldn't want to create an additional food related anxiety. With treats, by all means I'd do it, let her push her comfort zone, but with regular food, it sounds cruel-ish to limit her access to her bowl and not worth it, imo.
I don't block, but sometimes I put my hands halfway in the way so she'll nudge against them if she wants the food. I'm testing her boundaries to see how much of her hissing is fear, or just her being a silly hissy kitten who hisses as a habit. So far it seems mostly the latter. In fact most of her hisses in any circumstance seem to be hot air, like, it's what she does whenever she's slightly annoyed. Not scared, just annoyed.

I won't keep doing the bowl idea, but for the moment it seems to be working to let her know my hands aren't going to hurt her. In a day or so I'll try moving on and do different things instead, like maybe with the treats like you said.
 

cat nap

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I'd just be careful not to create another issue while trying to solve one.. Personally I wouldn't "block" her access to food like that, she's skittish enough and you wouldn't want to create an additional food related anxiety. With treats, by all means I'd do it, let her push her comfort zone, but with regular food, it sounds cruel-ish to limit her access to her bowl and not worth it, imo.
I do see your point, in it being cruel to limit her access to food....but I didn't take it as the OP was doing that.
I saw it as more as a game, and a lure, to get her to accept his hands and touch.

But yes....now that you have mentioned that it could interfere with her regular eating routines....then that is a strong valid point.

The thing is that his kitten, will have to overcome some of her 'fear responses', or 'learned response', or 'automatic response' ...in order to be able to get more comfortable with her new guardian.

I'm not actually even sure if her 'hissing' ....is an actual fear response.
Since it happens every time the OP approaches....then it seems like an actual 'learned response'.

(I am more for getting her adjusted in steps, however I have seen a kitten in a group of five, who hated to be held, hissed at every human, and looked to never be able to trust a human. Only by picking him up, and holding him, was he able to lessen his fear being around humans. This was a much younger kitten....aprox. 6-8 weeks....so yeah....very different.)

Your point about interfering with her normal eating schedule, and being 'cruel-ish'....or causing other eating problems, is very true.
 

She's a witch

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I've actually started to think what both NovusAnimus NovusAnimus and cat nap cat nap mentioned, that maybe it's not really scared hiss.. that she might just be hissy just in case. I have a hissy girl, although she never hisses at us, but she hisses a lot at another cat. My general observation is that cat girls are hissier than cat boys :) And the fact that this Ragdol girl eagerly engages in play with OP and even shows her belly in the process, makes me think she's not as scared as we think she might be. In fact I think playing with her a lot is a way to go. But obviously something is wrong. Maybe she has some negative association with being approached, maybe it was traumatic when they got her in the carrier at the breeder taking her away from her family and the memory is still somehow fresh. Maybe that was a man that approached&grabbed her then and that's why she acts like this toward OP.

I also don't think the breeder is bad, because she kept her till she was 18 weeks which is beyond recommended 16 weeks, if she was after money, she'd sold her when she was much younger - unless the kitten was previously returned. If she was returned, well, that could explain some of her behavior, she may have had some bad experiences in the previous home. DO you know if that was the case NovusAnimus NovusAnimus ?
and are you at least enjoying solving her puzzle? Are you curious of what her story is or rather disappointed?
 
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danteshuman

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I will add that rag dolls (& all cats really) bond deeply with their humans caregivers as deeply as a human infant does. If the breeder only had women in the house or never had guests over, it could be harder to convince your new baby that you are safe/trustworthy. When Jackie was adopted out and returned 2 weeks later he was super glued to me (his foster mom.) I would say even at 12 weeks the transition was very stressful on him. (I’m not sure if ragdolls tend bond with only their 1 human but Jackie is half siamese to.) Even though I just visit for the weekend every week, the now 14 month old kittens will let me manhandle them more because of that foster mom bond. So perphaps she was super cuddly and very bonded to her female ‘mom’?

I would pretend like you can’t see her and just read or watch tv in the same room. Try a cat dancer or other toys while you are distracted. Treats always help (baby food is a super high value treat, just a small spoonful.) Every time she hisses at you I would do a fake puuurrrr at her and a slow blink. Since she is ?4.5? Months old the carry them around method won’t work. Luckily they are insanely hyper goofballs at that age that just want to play. So get something like a felt ‘ribbon’ wand toy and swish it like a tail. Play play play. Some (rare) cats aren’t motivated by food but are with play.

:hangin::grouphug:
 

sivyaleah

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I will add that rag dolls (& all cats really) bond deeply with their humans caregivers as deeply as a human infant does. If the breeder only had women in the house or never had guests over, it could be harder to convince your new baby that you are safe/trustworthy. When Jackie was adopted out and returned 2 weeks later he was super glued to me (his foster mom.) I would say even at 12 weeks the transition was very stressful on him. (I’m not sure if ragdolls tend bond with only their 1 human but Jackie is half siamese to.) Even though I just visit for the weekend every week, the now 14 month old kittens will let me manhandle them more because of that foster mom bond. So perphaps she was super cuddly and very bonded to her female ‘mom’?

I would pretend like you can’t see her and just read or watch tv in the same room. Try a cat dancer or other toys while you are distracted. Treats always help (baby food is a super high value treat, just a small spoonful.) Every time she hisses at you I would do a fake puuurrrr at her and a slow blink. Since she is ?4.5? Months old the carry them around method won’t work. Luckily they are insanely hyper goofballs at that age that just want to play. So get something like a felt ‘ribbon’ wand toy and swish it like a tail. Play play play. Some (rare) cats aren’t motivated by food but are with play.

:hangin::grouphug:
Our Maine Coon (Luna) bonded intensely to me immediately when we got her even though my husband held her first. It got to a point where my husband was feeling rather neglected - he was able to hold her but but she clearly preferred me. Especially since when we got our other female cat (Cocoabean) a similar thing happened. I kept telling him it wasn't a competition and I kept reminding him that our other cat did come around and now utterly adores him. But fact is that some cats do seem to form intense attachments to particular people and it takes longer for them to come around with others. Our MC has now been here for 3 months and only in the past few weeks it's gotten to the point where she doesn't totally run off in the other direction when he comes near her to pick her up and will relax and curl up asleep near him.

In both instances, both cats had a preference for females over males. The older one really disliked other men that came into the house for a very long time (she's fine with them now, I believe my husband helped her get over that fear) and with Luna I think the breeder (female) probably was the main person doing the handling as I know her husband worked out of the house and she had a young daughter at home.

So, if this is the case it just may take a bit more time for this kitten to evolve and grow through this pattern. And you can do like my husband used to do and tell our other cat "Oh stop hissing, that hissing don't mean nothing!" and laugh, ignore it and just keep on doing what you're doing, distract her like other say with playing since she really seems to enjoy that and hopefully time will settle her in. It can sometimes take a few months for any cat to feel "at home" anyway - perhaps she just is on the outside of that curve. I do hope you yourself aren't stressing out over it too much NovusAnimus NovusAnimus
 

jefferd18

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So your kitten will hiss after what- just 13 days? You say she hisses when you approach? How are you approaching her? I ask because it takes some kittens, and cats for that matte, a decent amount of time to become use to a big human walking towards them. Cats are very sensitive to size and we are huge to them. I have found most kittens are bluffing when they hiss or spit, it is their only means of defense.
 

She's a witch

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Our Maine Coon (Luna) bonded intensely to me immediately when we got her even though my husband held her first. It got to a point where my husband was feeling rather neglected - he was able to hold her but but she clearly preferred me. Especially since when we got our other female cat (Cocoabean) a similar thing happened. I kept telling him it wasn't a competition and I kept reminding him that our other cat did come around and now utterly adores him. But fact is that some cats do seem to form intense attachments to particular people and it takes longer for them to come around with others. Our MC has now been here for 3 months and only in the past few weeks it's gotten to the point where she doesn't totally run off in the other direction when he comes near her to pick her up and will relax and curl up asleep near him.

In both instances, both cats had a preference for females over males. The older one really disliked other men that came into the house for a very long time (she's fine with them now, I believe my husband helped her get over that fear) and with Luna I think the breeder (female) probably was the main person doing the handling as I know her husband worked out of the house and she had a young daughter at home.

So, if this is the case it just may take a bit more time for this kitten to evolve and grow through this pattern. And you can do like my husband used to do and tell our other cat "Oh stop hissing, that hissing don't mean nothing!" and laugh, ignore it and just keep on doing what you're doing, distract her like other say with playing since she really seems to enjoy that and hopefully time will settle her in. It can sometimes take a few months for any cat to feel "at home" anyway - perhaps she just is on the outside of that curve. I do hope you yourself aren't stressing out over it too much NovusAnimus NovusAnimus
Very similar in my case, both of my current cats warmed up to me immediately, and it took them longer to bond with my husband. I hate to be stereotypical but I have too: generally, women are gentler and more delicate than men, and quieter, and most cats are sensitive to that. It didn't help that my husband was 100% big dog person and simply didn't know much about cats, never been around one. It took him some time to learn how not to spook the cats, how to touch them, how to speak around them. Now our girl is definitely dad's girl. She always sleeps on his legs at night and recently she hopped on his lap to curl to sleep, she's never done this before to any of us. She headbutts him on his face regularly and she rarely do this to me.
But realistically speaking, the Ragdoll girl in question may never enjoy being held in the arms. That is not natural for most cats. My boy is a total love bug that loves me dearly, and I can do anything I want with him, except picking him up to hold, then he would comically (for me) push me away with his front legs. Cats are both predators and potential preys and the instinct to have an option to escape quickly is very strong in them, they dont like being restrained. Of course, socialization with humans helps, especially in the catteries, where cats are bred to have certain characteristics, but they are still cats, non programmable living beings and it's impossible to predict everything. It almost seems like a joke of nature that cats looks so sweet and are so soft and there's something about them that makes us, humans, want to hold and cuddle them, and so often they don't want that. On the other hand, it's a great opportunity to practice respect for another being and it's boundaries, and to accept this being for what he/she is, I'm certainly grateful to my cats for lessons on that.
 

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I still think that being upright and moving is just a bit intimidating for her. You said she will bump foot when you are sitting on the floor and she went under your hand for the food. This is progress. I know it seems slow but it’s a good start. Use this to get further. Would she eat the food from your hand? Staying still and holding food could show her you are not going to grab her and eat her. The instincts of kitties can be very strong. Survival depends on being wary in the natural state. She wasn’t familiar with a male human before so she may not recognize you as safe yet. Sitting very still with the food in your hand is worth trying. Yucky maybe lol but worth it if it shows her the hand holds good things.
 
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NovusAnimus

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...are you at least enjoying solving her puzzle? Are you curious of what her story is or rather disappointed?
She wasn't returned at any point, no.

I am enjoying solving her puzzle, but it is a bit of a surprise. At first it stressed me out, but she's coming around and getting a lot more comfortable now in the third week.



I will add that rag dolls (& all cats really)...
I've yet to try the baby food. I'll see about that.


... I do hope you yourself aren't stressing out over it too much NovusAnimus NovusAnimus
It could very well be a gender issue. I'm a pretty quiet guy, a bit short, but still a guy. And my roommate is fairly boisterous. But she's starting to get more comfortable, no longer running away from her perch on the couch when my ox of a roommate starts stomping around.

I was a bit stressed, because I bought a cat in hopes to have a companion for my new at-home career, and I'd be very sad if she hissed at me all the time and refused to let me get near. But she's calming down more and more, especially now in the third week.


So your kitten will hiss after what- just 13 days? You say she hisses when you approach? How are you approaching her? I ask because it takes some kittens, and cats for that matte, a decent amount of time to become use to a big human walking towards them. Cats are very sensitive to size and we are huge to them. I have found most kittens are bluffing when they hiss or spit, it is their only means of defense.
She still hisses, on day 17, but less and less. Seems like she's just slow to adapt to this new world. Plus she hisses over silly things like me scooting her out of the kitchen. She doesn't run, doesn't show any fear body language, just doesn't like it, so she hisses.

If I crawl to her, she'll hiss, but doesn't run. No visible fear I can find, ears up and forward, fur not standing up, tail unchanged.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am considering getting a second kitten, and adopting from a shelter a kitten of similar age and energy to the kitten. The issue is money in the long run. I can't guarantee I'll have enough money to pay for emergency surgeries for 2 cats in the future.
 

sivyaleah

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I am considering getting a second kitten, and adopting from a shelter a kitten of similar age and energy to the kitten. The issue is money in the long run. I can't guarantee I'll have enough money to pay for emergency surgeries for 2 cats in the future.
Knowing your limits is important. Many will say to worry about that later but honestly, I'm of the thought that if you already have financial concerns that two is too many, it probably is. Better to know you can properly care for one than to struggle with two. We see far too many sad stories on this site from those who suddenly find themselves unable to care for their feline companions. Stuff happens with animals that can't be ignored - even minor health issues can add up quickly.

There's nothing wrong with singletons as long as you can give them an enriching, stimulating life filled with good care and love. Which it certainly sounds like you are already providing.
 

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(The baby food on a long spoon should help her get near you while feeling safe. You can move the spoon closer over a couple of months. The goal is for her to learn you provide the super yummy treat every day. To teach her to trust you tiny bit by tiny bit.)

I have heard of people doing pet insurance or a savings account they start when the cat is a kitten. I can only have one pet at my apartment so we had to break up a bonded pair of brothers. So we decided to try to keep the friendship going. Jackie gets weekly play dates with his brother Nick. (& sister Cami) Jackie & I spend the night at my mom’s house one night a week, so they can hang out.I have noticed Jackie is much calmer/less stressed when he is with his best fried & brother. He did great at my mom’s while I was traveling for a week, He was calm, happy, relaxed & happy because his brother was there calmly telling him every was fine.

So if you want a second cuddly cat and can afford two kitties; then go ahead and get one. Just make sure the foster person tells you which kitten of the litter is the snuggliest. If you want to rehome her (which I highly doubt) then please do so now why she is in the cute kitten stage to up her chances.

Jackie visiting at 5 months with his two siblings.
3EB0AEA5-BEC1-458C-9BCA-A776E42930BC.jpeg
 

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She's a witch

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I’m a strong believer that kittens do best in kittens company, humans won’t replace them a family like eg. in dogs’ case. I’d even go as far as many shelters/breeders do (especially back in Europe) and wouldn’t adopt out a single kitten to the home without another kitten/ young /playful cat. Especially if kittens are separated from their family too early, which is super common but not your case luckily, so at least your girl had a chance to learn to play nice and it’s hardly any risk she’ll be biting you, attacking your ankles etc which is usually the case with kittens separated too early and as a lone kitten. But if you decide you can afford it -I agree that emergency insurance would help- there’s no better way to spend days than watching two kittens interact and play. No human will keep up with kittens’ energy, another kitten has no problem with that. Of course it does create some other issues (proper introduction, crazies at night) but there are mostly temporary and the joy of having two cats stays for years. Not mentioning if they ever need to stay alone - I have no problem traveling or going for vacation knowing that my cat has a company to play with and feels less lonely without his humans.
 

sivyaleah

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I’m a strong believer that kittens do best in kittens company, humans won’t replace them a family like eg. in dogs’ case. I’d even go as far as many shelters/breeders do (especially back in Europe) and wouldn’t adopt out a single kitten to the home without another kitten/ young /playful cat. Especially if kittens are separated from their family too early, which is super common but not your case luckily, so at least your girl had a chance to learn to play nice and it’s hardly any risk she’ll be biting you, attacking your ankles etc which is usually the case with kittens separated too early and as a lone kitten. But if you decide you can afford it -I agree that emergency insurance would help- there’s no better way to spend days than watching two kittens interact and play. No human will keep up with kittens’ energy, another kitten has no problem with that. Of course it does create some other issues (proper introduction, crazies at night) but there are mostly temporary and the joy of having two cats stays for years. Not mentioning if they ever need to stay alone - I have no problem traveling or going for vacation knowing that my cat has a company to play with and feels less lonely without his humans.
I believe this as well so what I'm writing is not directed at anyone in particular.

The problem is insurance cost money also. Even the monthly cost for covering 2 healthy kittens at the mid-range of a popular company (annual reimbursement of $10K, $500 deductible, 80% reimbursement) is over $35 a month for 2 kittens and can vary considerably depending on the company and type of care they offer. Prices are not only calculated by location but by breed and age of the cat. Some, even will ask about past illnesses and some will not cover cats over a certain age with certain prior health conditions.

The above scenario still leaves a person with money they will have to pay out-of-pocket also. If something goes really wrong $10K can be eaten up really fast! A friend of mine recently had one of her cats suddenly get extremely ill and here it is 2 weeks later and the doctors still have no clear diagnosis. He was in critical care for 5 days, in an oxygen tank, hooked up to IV, with fluids and medications flowing through him 24/7. The final bill was close to $20K. Thankfully, he's on the mend but there is still continuing care needed until he's 100% well. This family is of decent financial means and have insurance but not enough to cover because they have 5 cats and 5 cats x 5 insurance policies....and well, who anticipated that kind of mysterious illness would strike out of the blue? They were lucky to have a wide circle of friends who were happy to pitch in to help out with the extra cost but most people are not as fortunate to have such an enormous amount of help.

And lets not forget all the other trips to the vet; wellness visits with potential additional core vaccinations that will require additional cost. If one is on a limited budget such as a student or retiree these additional funds can be hard to justify and can mean the difference not only in the care of the other cat but in the care of themselves.

I'm all for clearing out shelters and for having a kitten have a friend. It IS better for them overall and if the OP finds it in his heart to adopt another and make it work for his budget, that would be fantastic. But one does need to be realistic about their personal finances and there's no shame in knowing if you are not equipped to handle that extra cost.
 
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