Kittens can be very overwhelmed by a new environment, so socialisation skills are key.

The first few weeks of a kitten’s life will determine how he behaves for the rest of his days, so it’s imperative that you choose a healthy kitten…

Things to look out for when choosing a kitten: 

Clean coat without fleas 

Lively and playful, moving around easily

Good appetite

Toileting normally

Clean bottom

Clean eyes, nose and ears with no discharge or squinting eyes

Look at the environment the kitten is coming from – is it clean? How many other animals are there – are they healthy?

Look at the rest of the litter, they should also look healthy and be of a similar size and weight.

When you are looking for the perfect kitten, you shouldn’t choose him because of his looks but rather on how healthy and happy he is.  While you might think you are being kind by adopting the kitten who hides at the back of his pen (maybe he’s just shy?), in reality you are probably bringing home a sickly kitten who is unlikely to be the mischievous, lively pet you are hoping for.

HEALTHY RESCUE KITTENS

If you decide to adopt a kitten from a charity or rehoming centre, ask what socialisation the kitten has had in his first eight weeks of life, as this is the key period when a kitten’s personality is shaped.

International Cat Care stresses the importance of homing a kitten which has been well socialised: “A kitten which hasn’t been handled by people, met dogs or experienced everyday things such as vacuum cleaners, doorbells, children and so on, during the early weeks of his life may find them very threatening.  The cat may try to avoid any interaction with things he fears, perhaps hiding away or being aggressive if he’s pursued to be stroked.”

“Kittens can be very overwhelmed by a new environment, so socialisation skills are key.”

THE PERFECT PEDIGREE

Choosing a healthy pedigree kitten from a reputable breeder requires just as many questions and enquiries. First of all, choosing the correct breed for your lifestyle and home is very important – busy, full-time working households would not be suited to a highly strung breed such as the Siamese or Bengal, rather a more laid-back breed such as a British Shorthair.  Also make sure you do your research into whether your chosen breed is known to suffer from any inherited diseases.

Once you’ve established which breed is best for you, you need to find a reputable breeder.  The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recommends contacting breed clubs who will be able to point you towards reputable breeders. The breeder should give you the opportunity to see the kitten with his mother and the rest of the litter.  Make sure you are also able to interact and play with the kittens.  This is very important because it will not only give you an opportunity to see the temperament of the mother, but may also give you an idea of the future characteristics of the kitten.

A responsible breeder will provide background on what socialisation the kitten has had so far, and advise you on how to continue socialising your kitten when you get home.

When you choose your kitten, try to find a litter that has been raised in a house as similar to your own as possible, so if you have children or a dog, it is best to find a kitten that is used to this sort of environment.

Be wary of shy kittens who hide away from you and don’t look ‘right’, and trust your instincts.  If something feels wrong, it probably is so look elsewhere.  It might be hard to leave a poorly kitten behind, but remember it will only cause you heartache in the long run if you end up nursing a sickly kitten, potentially paying out a fortune in vet bills, or struggling with an unsocialised kitten.

The GCCF Breeder Scheme assures buyers that its breeders follow recommended breeding policies, give new owners written information regarding the diet and care of their new kitten, and makes sure that their cats are screened for inherited diseases.  For more information about the Breeder Scheme visit:

www.gccfcats.org

Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)