Bringing home a kitten is one of the most exciting experiences you can have! The anticipation, the joy, the laughter—it’s unforgettable. But how exactly do you know you’re choosing the right one? You can’t really go wrong with a kitty, but certain factors make it easier to pick through the bunch.
This is a big step—and that little kitten should grow into a happy, healthy, bright-eyed cat with a wonderful future. Here, we talk about all aspects of choosing a kitten so you can navigate the “bring home” process more effectively. Here’s what you need to know.
Choose a Kitten with a Clean Bill of Health
Above all else, you will want your kitten to be healthy. That means you must check for bright eyes, playful temperament, and good coat texture. If you’re getting your cat from a licensed breeder, they likely have already had their first vet check-up along with vaccinations and deworming.
Some folks that are not breeders also have these preventative measures taken care of before placing kittens in homes, but not all of them do. So, if you’re getting a free kitten or one from an unexpected litter, do a quick examination to ensure the kitten you have has no signs of obvious health concerns.
You might want to steer clear if you see a kitten with watery eyes or nasal drainage. While it is normal for them to get a little bit sneezy when they first come home from adjusting to a new environment, it is not normal if they’re like that when you get them.
These signs signify other big health concerns that can be expensive to treat and even sometimes dangerous for existing pets.
Choose a Kitten with a Favorable Temperament
Anyone who has ever owned a kitten can tell you they all go through a crazy teenage phase. But you’ll definitely want to pick a kitten whose personality matches the vibe of the household.
For example, you would want to avoid getting an incredibly energetic kitten if you’re looking for a more relaxed companion. Much the same, you would not want to get an aloof kitten who didn’t want to socialize for children who plan on carrying it around everywhere.
Personality really matters, so it’s always important to follow your first gut instincts to let you know which personality will complement your existing crew best.
Keep in mind that personality can change, adapt, and morph with age, time, and environment.
Try Not to Judge By Appearance Alone
We all go into the pet-buying process having a strong idea about what we want. But realistically, it sometimes pans out differently than we thought. Some of our most beloved pets will be rescues, mixed cats who otherwise didn’t have a chance in life—which makes it so beautiful.
So, when you’re looking at a litter of kittens, try not to base it on specific colors or markings but on the connection itself. Some kittens will just speak to you. You might have seen Facebook pictures of a litter and have one in particular that catches your eye, but meeting them can make things much different.
We implore you to meet the kitten before committing. Sometimes, looks can be deceiving. For example, all kittens are cute as a button. But maybe you want a social cat and the color you wanted is pretty skittish or antisocial.
Naturally, personalities develop over time—and often animals adapt to the home environment—but you know what they say, a tiger cannot change its stripes (or a kitty, in this case). Expectations can lead to disappointment, which results in homelessness or home transfer.
Realize Differences in Gender Before Choosing a Kitten
The truth is, boys and girls are different in the kitty world, and it’s important to touch on how and why. So, for this section, let’s discuss some downfalls of both genders, so you understand the possibilities.
For example, you might really want a little girl, but the ladies can get pregnant at six months old, so spaying is imperative. However, spaying costs more than neutering, which can deter some folks. Plus, a cat in heat isn’t a lot of fun to deal with.
Another thing to consider—while males and females can both spray, it is much more prevalent in males. Males can be very territorial with others and lure in potential mates by spraying. To prevent this issue from developing, you must neuter before sexual maturity (before six months of age.)
Don’t Buy from Questionable Breeders
If you saw a litter of kittens from a particular breeder, your interest might pique. After all, they are ever so fluffy and adorable and seem to look in fine health (in photos). But buying from a cat breeder can be a risky business if you aren’t knowledgeable about breed and breeding practices.
Rates are important. If you are purchasing your kitten from a breeder and think you’re getting a good deal, think again. Typically there are signs you look for with people to see if they are legitimate. Licensed breeders should have accreditation and proof of parental lineage upon request.
If the breeder is unwilling to show you the animal’s living conditions prior to placement, this can be a cause for concern. Also, if they do allow you to see and you feel that the kittens aren’t adequately cared for, you likely won’t want to give your money to aid in the further exploitation of their cats.
Rescue a Homeless Kitten When You Can
There are tons of unwanted kittens born into the world every year. Statistically, a shocking 860,000 cats are euthanized annually in the US alone. The likelihood of finding a free litter is incredibly high, especially in the spring months when breeding is the highest.
We want to be clear that when you select a kitten that needs to be fostered or rescued from a bad situation, extra vetting should be expected. The kitten has likely had poor to no care, is possibly malnourished, and definitely needs vaccines and other routine vet care.
However, if you get them from a rescue or shelter, all the hard work may already have been done for you and will be included in the adoption cost. If a shelter receives a litter of kittens, you can bank on them having current vaccines, spay or neuter surgery, deworming, and all other general care before coming home.
Not only does this cut out a huge upfront expense, it also ensures all health problems to date have been addressed—and there’s nothing like saving a life.
Remember to Have Your Kitty Supplies Beforehand
Before you bring your kitty home, you need all the essentials.
Vets know best! The best brands for products and the type of food you buy should be based on your research and what works best in your home. Also, it would help if you had a veterinarian picked out beforehand—and never be shy about asking them for particular recommendations.
So now you know a little more about what to look for when choosing a kitten out of a litter. We know that it can be super challenging to decide. But with discretion, you will make the right choice. Remember to be patient.
Coming home can be terrifying for such a little kitten in a big world. Hopefully, you take some of these tips and tricks on choosing your next family member and what to look for when choosing.
Featured Image Credit: Borkin Vadim, Shutterstock