How to Choose a Kitten

Knowing how to pick the right kitten is important. One thing to look for is good health. Buying a healthy kitten should ensure that you get many years of pleasure and companionship from your feline friend. Another important point to consider is whether you want a kitten as a family pet, or whether you are thinking of showing/breeding your kitten in the future, as this will play a large part in the selection process. It always helps if you can see the kitten's mother when going to view any kittens, particularly in the case of a pedigree, as this will show you exactly what the kittens will look like when they are fully grown.

It can, however, be quite difficult to decide what type of cat will suit you best, as there is such a wide variety of cute kittens to choose from. This is where a trip to the library or a thorough search on the web will help you come to the right decision. Long-haired or semi-long-haired varieties, such as a Persian or Ragdoll kittens, will require more grooming than shorthaired varieties, like Siamese kittens and Bengal kittens. Some kittens can also be more demanding by nature than others, and it could be that a cross-breeds may provide you with just the right balance.

Signs of a Healthy Kitten

Before going about how to pick the right kitten, it is best to make a list of all the places you are going to try first. It's a good idea to stick to reputable breeders where pedigree kittens are concerned, and pet shops are best avoided altogether, as many of them will not be able to tell you anything about the kitten's background. Make notes at each place you visit, and do not be tempted to buy the first pretty kitten you see. Look for the following qualities:

  • Bright, shiny eyes with no discharge or excessive tearing, as this could indicate infection.
  • Clean, healthy ears, as any pus or tar-like discharge could be a sign of ear-mite infestation or other infection.
  • Pale pink gums and mouth with no sign of ulcers or sores.
  • A damp and cool nose with no discharge or signs of sneezing.
  • A clean bottom with no staining of the fur or other possible signs of diarrhea.
  • A clean and glossy coat with no dry flaking skin or bare patches.
  • A bright, friendly and alert manner. Healthy kittens are generally very playful and inquisitive. Although many kittens may be a little shy at first, a friendly kitten who comes up to you willingly may make a better pet.

It is worth pointing out that if any kitten in a litter appears to have any signs of ill health, even if the rest of the litter appear to be quite healthy, it would be wise to avoid that litter altogether, unless they have been checked out by a vet first.

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Required Vaccinations

When knowing how to pick the right kitten, there is another important factor to keep in mind: vaccinations. Vaccinations are very important for a new kitten, as their immune system is still growing. Cat vaccinations help to boost the immune system and protect your kitten from potentially fatal diseases.

It's best to acquire a kitten when they are around 8 to 12 weeks old, by which time they should have already received at least one vaccination and been checked for feline worms. A second vaccination will then be due at 12 weeks and thereafter at regular yearly intervals. Vaccinations are available to guard against a number of diseases, such as cat flu, feline enteritis and feline leukemia.

Adequate flea control will also be necessary and, once your kitten reaches six months of age, they will require neutering/spaying unless you wish to breed.

Helping Your Kitten Adjust to Their New Home

When your kitten first arrives home, they are bound to feel a little nervous. You should place them in a quiet room in their carrier so that they can come out when they feel ready to do so. Provide fresh water, food, a few cat toys, a cat bed and a litter tray (placed well away from food and water). If you have any other pets in the house, you will need to keep them away from your kitten and take introductions slowly.

It may take as long as several weeks for your kitten to get used to you and their new home, but eventually they will begin to settle down and get to know you. Do not let your kitten roam around outside until they are fully vaccinated and able to take care of themselves. If you are going to be out at work all day, you may want to consider getting two cats at the same time so that they will be company for one another.