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What to Look for Before Buying a Kitten

What to Look for Before Buying a Kitten

By Melanie of

If you are thinking about getting a kitten there are a few pointers I can give you as to what to look for.

First and foremost: Please remember that purchasing a kitten is a LONG TERM decision. When you purchase a kitten you must be aware that he or she will grow up. They are not going to stay a kitten for ever. You should purchase your kitten with the thought that you are likely to have this animal for 12, 13, 14 or more years. They are not a throw away toy. You can’t purchase a kitten and then get rid of it when it grows up. You MUST consdier the long term financial and emotional impacts that come with owning an animal. There will be times when they inconvenience you. They will get sick right when you are busy at work and really shoudn’t be taking a day off to take them to the vet. You will have to organise a boarding facility or family/friend to care for him when you go on holidays and there are usually costs associated with that.

There are obvious ongoing maintenence costs as well just for the basics. They may, like children, develop some unwanted traits but most are treatable with a bit of time, patience and professional advise. They all have different PURRsonalities but that is what makes them a special part of your family. Please fully undarstand the LONG TERM RESPONSIBILITIES of pet ownership BEFORE YOU proceed.

Be aware that pet shops are a great place for the spread of germs and disease and considering that kittens in pet shops are NOT fully vaccinated this can be risky, especially when they mix litters of kittens together. You can usually find the same breed on the internet or from a breeder at a cheaper price and in the case of Domestic Short Hair (DSH) or moggy kittens they will usually be free unless microchipped or vaccinated.

Before purchasing a kitten or even choosing one there are a few things to look out for. If the kitten hisses or backs up when you approach it this means that the kitten has not been handled very much and chances are was not raised indoors. First signs to steer clear of that kitten.

When buying a kitten from either a breeder ensure that they offer some kind of health guarantee. Even if it is only for a couple of days so that you have a chance to get the kitten checked out by a qualified vet and return the kitten if the vet thinks it is not healthy.

If you are buying from a breeder always ask to see where the kittens are kept. If they are hesitant to show you it is probably because the facilities are dirty and often small. If the kitten cages are outside be wary! How much attention have these kittens had? Are they familiar with the typical noises of a home such as the telephone, T.V, doorbell, vacuum cleaner etc. Is the breeder aware of health problems if they are kept outside/down the back of the property?

If you are buying from a breeder consider how many litters and how many cats they have at any one time and if this is managable??? Do they breed numerous different breeds and have multiple litters all at once? FACT:The more cats and kittens they have at any one time the less attention your kitten is going to get and there is a much higher chance of disease and infection. In my personal opinion a breeder that breeds multiple breeds of cats and has multiple litters may not have the best interests of the kittens they produce at heart and could be considered a kitten factory. How can you spend time with and properly care for 4 or 5+ litters with an average of 5 kittens per litter) as well as 10, 11, 12+ adult cats??? There are not enough hours in a day for 2 people to look after this many cats. Feeding, changing litter trays, cleaning bowls, cleaning rooms/catteries/kitten pens etc, Cheking their coats/body/gums etc and then just spending a little time giving them some love and attention is time consuming.

Check the eyes, nose and mouth. If there is any yellow discharge from the eyes and/or if the nose is running or if the kitten is constantly sneezing and wheezing, the kitten could have Cat Flu. Are there ulcer like sores on the tongue? You don’t want to buy a sick cat so make sure the kitten has been treated and is healthy before purchase.

Look in the ears any black or dark brown wax may indicate ear mites. A responsible pet shop or breeder should have dealt with this before showing a prospective buyer.

Check the litter tray – A responsible breeder would make sure it was clean – (a sign that the kittens are well cared for). If there are signs of fresh faeces is it solid? Also check the kittens bottom. Is it clean? Or are there signs of diarrhoea? If so it may be worth coming back at a later stage and looking at the kitten/s when this has been treated. Or alternatively look elsewhere.

Finally look at the kittens body. Check for fleas or any wounds. (Small wounds may be found on the neck of young kittens from the mother carrying her young, that is usually fine and no need for concern). If you do find fleas or suspicious wounds or lumps (possibly hernia if on stomach) these either need to be treated and fixed before purchase or at least discussed with a vet

You don’t have to buy from the first breeder you talk to or see. You are likely to have a kitten for 14+ years so….Take your time, look around! You can always go back to that breeder if you think they were the best breeder with the healthiest animals. If you have to wait a few months well so be it. What is a few months in the scheme of things? A good breeder will give you lots of information to take home with you such as care sheets, diet recommendations and vet information, informing you when your kitten is due for its next vaccination etc. I would also expect a good breeder would ask you to give them a call should you have any problems or questions even when your cat is an adult.

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A good responsible breeder should evaluate each kitten individually before confirming that the kitten is ready for a new home. This may mean 2 kittens from the same little will be ready to leave at different times.

There are a number of developmental and health goals that need to be reached before going to a new home.? When choosing your kitten, try to make sure he/she is healthy and well cared for. At ten weeks of age, the kitten should have had at least one F3 vaccination and received at least 4 doses of dewormer.

Also, look for the following traits:

  1. Has the kitten reached an appropriate going home age? (eg about 10 – 12 weeks)
  2. Is the kitten at a suitable weight? At 10 week old a kitten should be about 1kg (different breeds can vary). I would not recommend taking home a kitten much under 1kg.
  3. Is the kitten familiar with and eating a wide range of top quality vet recommend foods and foods suitable for human consumption? If you get a kitten that has been raised on only 1 type of food this may not be a brand that you can get hold of easily and may mean the kitten will be a fussy eater. Also what are you going to do if that brand is sold out or discontinued.
  4. Is the kitten confidently using the litter tray?
  5. Has the kitten been well socialised and is he/she friendly and affectionate? The kitten shoud NOT be fearful.
  6. To the breeders knowledge: Is the kitten healthy and flea free?
  7. No nasal discharge
  8. Clean Ears and Skin.
  9. Bright Eyes with no colored discharge.
  10. Pink gums and correctly aligned teeth
  11. Well-proportioned body
  12. Shiny coat
  13. Good eyesight and hearing (check this by jingling your keys and seeing if the kitten responds)
  14. Always have your new kitten examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible. If there is a medical problem, you should be able to return the kitten to the breeder.
  15. Has the kitten been vet checked?
  16. Has the kitten been vaccinated at least 14 days prior to going home?
  17. Has the kitten been wormed regularly (at least 4 time by 10 weeks) and are all medications and innoculations/vaccinations up to date.
  18. Is all the paperwork in order to pass onto the new owners. Eg, Vaccination certificate, Microchip information, Kitten care info, Diet info.
  19. Is the breeder prepared to guarantee the health of the kitten for A MINIMUM of 14 days after the kitten goes home?

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