Choosing a kitten is an exciting time for any prospective owner. It is important to remember that you and your new cat will be living together for many years to come. This is a commitment with which you should feel comfortable. Make this a fun but informed process. Use these guidelines to help you towards a good match!
- How sociable do you need your cat to be?
Some breeds of cat are frequently less comfortable with being handled, such as torties. Families with young children may have different expectations to someone who is looking for a ‘rodent controller’. Are you going to have to regularly leave your cat alone for prolonged periods? Cats can be provided with activity platforms or flaps to allow them access to outdoors.
- What sort of coat are you looking for?
The longer haired cats tend to shed more noticeably. Also consider the type of coat if there are asthma / allergy problems in the home. Bear in mind that many cats are bred in such a way that they need regular grooming to properly maintain their coats.
- Male or female?
Generally male cats are larger than females. Much of the decision is personal preference as many opinions are held concerning sex based traits, none of which are truly reliable. Tendency for increased dominance aggression or urine marking in males is largely mitigated by neutering.
- Pedigree or mixed breed.
Buying a pedigree will enable you to predict more closely the final look and size of your new cat. However it is also true that pedigree cats can be more vulnerable to specific breed related medical conditions. The conformation of some breeds can cause medical issues, for example cats with a foreshortened nose can be more prone to respiratory, dental and ocular problems.
- What age of kitten should I get?
The best age to bring your cat home is around the 8 week mark. This is a point when they are already well weaned and are becoming very independent from their mother. Their maternal antibodies are waning, so they will need to start their vaccine course shortly after arriving home. Adopting an older cat is also a good option but bear in mind that much of a cat’s socialisation takes place before 3-4 months of age.
- Where do I get a kitten?
If you are getting a pedigree, you should make sure where possible that the breeder is on the list of breeders registered with an appropriate cat club. No kitten can be verified as pedigree without its papers. It is a good idea to visit the breeder before a purchase so as you can get a feel for the quality of care and maybe get a look at and assess the character of the breeding dam and sire. Mixed breed cats, or cats without a verifiable pedigree, are available from a variety of sources which range from local adverts to sanctuaries. So called ‘mutts’ can make fantastic and original pets.
- Make sure your kitten is healthy.
Eyes should be bright and clear with no discharge. Ears should be clean. Nose should be cool and moist with no sign of discharge, coughing or wheezing. Look at the bottom to make sure there is no evidence of diarrhoea. The kitten should not be too thin or have too much of a potbelly (can be a sign of heavy worm burden). Teeth should look even with a good bite. Coat should be clean, without patches of hair loss or redness and free of fleas, lice and ticks. The kitten should look robust with no sign of lameness or injury.
- Observe the kittens behaviour.
They should be attentive, active and not afraid to approach you but should show no sign of aggression.
- There should be evidence of vaccinations to back up the breeders claims.
You will need to bring this documentation when visiting us for the initial health check as it will help decision making concerning the completion of the vaccine course.
- If you are not completely happy, don’t be rushed into a decision.
Pressure from a breeder, a pleading child or a guilty conscience could cause you to make a snap decision which you may regret later. It is usually a good idea to postpone a final decision until a second visit. Happy hunting!