If you've decided to get a kitten rather than an adopted cat, you need to know what to look out for when picking one from a litter.
The cutest kitten in the litter - but is she the one you should choose?
Choosing a Kitten
If choosing a kitten from a litter, what should you be looking for? How can you tell what the bundle of cuteness will turn out like as an adult?
You can get a few clues by looking at its parents. This will not always be possible; but if you are getting your kitten from a reputable breeder, they should be able to introduce you to the cat’s mom, at the very least. A young cat learns how the world works by watching its mother. If she’s overly shy or aggressive, she is likely to have passed these traits on to her kittens. If she seems relaxed and contented, that’s a good sign of things to come.
How Old Should a New Kitten be?
A kitten should be with its mother for at least eight weeks. That’ an absolute minimum. They are dependent on their parent in these early day. She will keep them scrupulously clean and teach them how to groom themselves armed only with a tongue and a wet paw.
If they leave their mother and siblings too early, kittens will find it hard to settle into a new home.
Some kittens are shy and nervous, some are domineering and aggressive, some are curious and interested in their surroundings (including you). These latter kittens will make the best pets. A nervous kitten may never settle down to become a happy house pet; and an aggressive one will be all claws and teeth, which – unless it’s a ruthless mouser you’re looking for – won’t make the ideal family pet.
Kittens take time to get used to new things. They will settle into their new homes most quickly if they have already been handled by humans. If you have a dog, it will help enormously if the kitten has been raised by a breeder who also has dogs. This is an ideal-world scenario, though, and doesn’t mean you can’t successfully make the feline-canine introductions yourself once you’ve taken your new kitten home.
Your new pet should be free of disease, or the signs of possible problems. A kitten that is happy and alert is probably every bit as healthy as it looks; but it pays to make a few other quick visual checks too (see the Cat Health section of this guide).