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Choosing A New Cat

Choosing a Kitten


Before choosing a kitten, the most important thing to consider is what kind of lifestyle the kitten will have when it grows up and what type of personality you are looking for.

Will the kitten be left alone for long periods whilst you are at work? If so, then perhaps it would be better to consider getting a pair of kittens so they can keep each other company.

Are you planning to keep the cat indoors or will it be allowed to roam outside? Kittens from feral or farm cats may not adapt well to a totally indoor lifestyle.

When visiting a litter of kittens, always ask to see “Mum”. You want to make sure that she appears happy and healthy and this will give you an idea of her personality too. You want to see where the kittens have been born and raised (never have a kitten delivered to you). Of course this should be clean and tidy and the kittens should appear happy and healthy. Always look at the whole litter, not just one kitten; even if your kitten appears healthy, it may be incubating disease if others in the litter are ill. Never choose the smallest or sickly looking kitten out of pity. Look for signs of sickness / diarrhoea, sticky eyes / runny nose, coughing / sneezing. Watch out for fleas and ask if the kittens have been wormed. Have Mum and the kittens been checked by a vet? Ask if you can handle the kittens and play with them to see if they are well socialised.

A kitten should not be re-homed prior to 8 weeks of age. This is to make sure that they have been fully weaned and litter trained, and helps avoid problems once they go to their new homes. At Pets’n’Vets, we often see kittens that appear to be much younger than people were told at the time of purchase. If you think a kitten looks younger than you are being told, be wary – people are often keen to sell kittens as soon as they start eating solid food but they may not be fully weaned at this stage. This can lead to sickness and diarrhoea and the kitten may take longer to settle into its new home. It is useful to know what type of food the kitten is used to so you can feed it the same type, at least to begin with. You can always change the food after a few weeks once the kitten is fully settled in.

If you are considering a pedigree kitten then look at and research different breeds. You may be drawn to a breed on the basis of appearance but also consider personality, some breeds are more energetic than others and some are higher maintenance. If considering a long haired breed, are you able and willing to spend the required time on grooming?

Some breeds have particular health concerns, so research your chosen breed fully and ask the breeder if the appropriate health screens have been carried out. For example, Maine Coons and Ragdoll cats can suffer from a heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy; this is easily screened for using a DNA test. Pedigree kittens are not usually re-homed until 13 weeks of age. They should be vet checked, fully vaccinated and registered with one of the cat registration bodies – either the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) or The International Cat Association (TICA). Making sure you get your pedigree kitten from a registered breeder helps ensure that appropriate health screens have been conducted and that the kittens have been reared according to set guidelines. Pedigree cats are generally kept indoors.

Choosing an Adult Cat

Kittens can be a lot of hard work, so if you work long hours or are elderly, it may be more appropriate to get an older cat.

Re-homing an older cat can be very rewarding. There are always lots of older cats looking for homes at animal rescue centres and cat charities. Additionally, many pedigree cat breeders will rehome breeding cats after they have been retired from breeding.

An adult cat will already have a distinct personality so it is important that the personality fits the lifestyle you intend the cat to have. If the cat is used to going outdoors and roaming around lots then it is unlikely to adjust well to living in a flat, for example. Is the cat used to being handled? Is it used to living with children? If you already own cats, then a cat that has always lived alone may not be very easy to introduce into the household.

Most animal rescue centres and cat charities will have vaccinated the cat for you and had them vet checked. You should be given paperwork recording this. Also check if the cat has been wormed and flea treated and if there are any health concerns or pre-existing illnesses you need to know about. If you are speaking to an owner of an older cat they wish to rehome, ask if it is possible to find out what veterinary practice the cat has been registered at; this way medical records can be found if needed.

If you are taking on an older cat, then be aware that older animals are more likely to require veterinary treatment. It can be more difficult and expensive to get Pet Insurance for older cats especially if they are over 8 years old. Are you able to cover the costs of veterinary treatment if insurance cover is not available?

More information about choosing and owning a cat

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