Cat Care

Choosing A Pet Kitten

Cat Care > Acquiring A Cat > Choosing A Pet Kitten

Choosing A Pet Kitten

In Britain, 95 per cent of pet cats are mongrel or crossbreed animals. It is probably true to say that once they have made the decision to have a cat, most people acquire a kitten from the nearest litter that they hear about in their neighborhood. They do not spend a lot of time looking at different groups of kittens or weighing up the 'pros' and 'cons' of the various breeds, as is often the case with choosing a dog. In fact, there are many advantages in choosing a kitten from a mother cat that belongs to i good and caring home and family. One can then be sure that both the mother and kittens have received plenty of care, attention and good feeding and are therefore likely to be free of illnesses or infections. The kittens will also almost certainly have been gently and carefully handled and taught to lap milk and feed independently. They will have started to form good relationships with people and will be more likely to settle happily into a new home.

This, of course, applies both to mongrel and pedigree kittens. The main difference, for those seeking a pedigree kitten of a particular breed, is that it is unlikely that there will be one available in the immediate neighborhood. If the choice is for a pedigree kitten, then planning is almost always necessary. A good place to start is at the local veterinary clinic where advice can be obtained about the various breeds and the location of breeders. In many towns and cities, there are also local cat clubs, which are useful sources of information. If possible, it is a good idea to visit a local cat show or even a large national event such as the National Cat Club Show held at Olympia in London. One is then able to talk to the owners and breeders and arrange to be contacted when a litter of kittens becomes available. Pedigree kittens, especially those showing all the desirable attributes of the breed and with potential as prizewinners, can be expensive to buy and may be in great demand. In any litter of kittens, however, there may be individuals that are considered slightly less than perfect from the showing point of view, and these are usually less costly. They still make highly desirable pets and usually retain the potential to become parents of prizewinning kittens themselves as faults are not likely to be serious ones.

Whether it is a mongrel or pedigree cat, the sex of the kitten is one factor that must be taken into consideration. In one sense, if the kitten is destined to become a family pet, this is almost irrelevant since it is highly desirable that both males and females should be neutered to prevent them from breeding. At the present time in Britain, there is a superabundance of unwanted cats, and towns, cities and rural areas all have their own populations of feral cats making a living as best they can. Each unneutered cat will undoubtedly add many times to the population explosion as, in ordinary circumstances, it is extremely difficult to prevent mating and breeding. Usually, the males in a litter of kittens are the first to find homes as the neutering operation is more straightforward and less expensive than in the females. Neutered males and females make equally delightful pets. Some people may argue that females are some-hat more home loving and affectionate and males more independent. These differences, if they exist at all, are very slight, and a great deal depends upon the individual nature and temperament of a cat rather than its sex.

It is probably fair to say that when choosing a kitten from a litter most people are governed by emotional factors rather than rational ones, particularly if there are children present. As already stated, as long as the kittens and their mother are in a good and caring home problems are likely to be insignificant, but there are still one or two points to watch out for. The kitten should appear to be alert and healthy, with a shiny, sleek coat ħat is free from any sign of skin disorder. The eyes should be bright and clear and the ears free from any sign of discharge or material that might indicate the presence of a problem such as ear mites. There should be no signs of coughing, sneezing or nasal discharge as these could indicate the presence of a serious illness such as cat flu. The kitten should be friendly, happy to come and greet people and to play with its brothers and sisters. It should not appear to be timid in any way as this might indicate problems in relating to people in the future. The kitten should appear to be well nourished and neither too fat nor too thin. A potbellied appearance could indicate the presence of a heavy infestation of roundworms, which can compromise the health of a very young kitten.

If a kitten is being acquired from an animal rescue shelter then great care is needed to avoid possible disappointment and upset. Sadly, it is often the case that such kittens have been separated from their mother at a very young age, are poorly nourished and have very little resistance to diseases and infections. In fact, it is not uncommon for a kitten to be harboring a disease that may not manifest itself until after the animal has gone to a new home. It is certainly a much needed and kindly act to offer a home to a kitten like this, but it is wise to recognize that there are potential pitfalls. If it is decided to go ahead it is sensible to have the kitten checked by a veterinary surgeon so that the best possible advice can be obtained and any health problems treated at an early stage.

One final point to remember is that unless one has a great deal of spare time it is best not to choose the very long-haired types or breeds of cat. These cats require a great deal of grooming to prevent the fur from becoming tangled and knotted into impossible, matted lumps that have to be cut away, sometimes under general anaesthetic.