How to Choose a Kitten

Clare Hemington DipCAPBT

So you've made the big decision to get a kitten, but how do you go about choosing the right one for you and your lifestyle? Choosing a kitten should always be a labour of the mind rather than the heart. To increase the likelihood of making the right choice follow this advice:

Research the litter by asking questions before you view.  It's better to reject a litter as unsuitable before you see them. If the answers to any of the following questions raise doubts in your mind then it may be better to look for another litter:

Q: Have the kittens been reared in a domestic home or a pen outside? 

Ideally you want the kittens to have experienced all the sights and sounds of a normal domestic home.

Q: Have the kittens been handled by a number of people from the age of two weeks?
Research shows that handling by four or more people during the sensitive period of development between two and seven weeks will increase kittens’ sociability with humans.

Q: Can the mother be viewed with the kittens?

Kittens learn behaviour and responses from their mother so if she is fearful or aggressive it may rub off on the kittens.

Q: Has a vet examined the kittens and have they been wormed and treated for fleas?

Ideally the kittens will be vaccinated, particularly if they are pedigree, but at the very least you want to ensure that a vet has examined them and given them the necessary flea and worm treatment.

If the kittens are in a rescue centre then it is important to find out as much as possible about their background. Do not be tempted by feral kittens that spit and hiss and are reluctant to be handled. They will be very hard work and should only be taken on if the family as a whole understand they may never be the ideal friendly pet.
 
Decide beforehand whether you are looking for one or two kittens. Single kittens are advisable as companions for existing cats in the household. If you work during the day then a pair of kittens will be good company for each other when they are growing up. Choose pairs from a litter that appear to be close and playing together.
 
When viewing the litter look for a kitten that fulfils the following criteria:

  • Bright eyes with no discharge

  • Clean anus with no sign of diarrhoea

  • Clean ears with no evidence of dark brown wax

  • Shiny coat and no pot-belly (this would indicate a worm burden)

  • Alert and interactive with the environment

  • Playful with the other kittens in the litter

  • Keen to approach visitors

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