How to buy a kitten – a useful checklist

How to buy a kitten is about doing due diligence and being sensible. With more online sales there are more scammers. You can end up with a nightmare scenario of a cat you love but which is unhealthy because she was created in a kitten mill. Health is the priority as far as I am concerned. Don’t ever transfer money up front. Never unless you know exactly who you are dealing with and are 100% sure that they are bona fide. Don’t buy purebred-mix cats as they are no more than moggies. Far better to adopt from a shelter if you adopt a random-bred cat. And personally, I’d always adopt a beautiful moggy and pay the shelter fee than spend over a thousand dollars or pounds for a purebred.

Cute Scottish Fold kitten
Cute Scottish Fold kitten. Photo in public domain.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

If you are buying a purebred kitten this article on buying a Bengal cat may help. For purebred cats, full pedigree certification should naturally be provided. And I would make sure the certification relates to the big and/or established associations (I mention some here). You don’t want to buy a mixed breed cat no matter how gorgeous he or she is if you are looking to buy a purebred. Mixed breed cats or let’s say a “Bengal mix” as they are described, can look like a purebred cat (you might, though, consider a rescue cat).

RELATED: Woman scammed out of $2,300 when trying to buy a Russian Blue cat in California

The most important aspect of how to buy a kitten is health; no doubt. It is the most difficult aspect for a breeder to master and must always be a priority. I am thinking of the cats first, here, and us the buyer second (in terms of distress and expense in caring for an ill cat). Let’s be honest if the cat has a suppressed immune system, he or she is likely to be ill a lot and there is not much that can be done to cure that.

RELATED: Cat breeder scams

Here is a list of things to think about in buying a healthy kitten:

  • To ensure that the kitten is well socialized it should be bought at about 9-12 weeks of age. The kitten should be socialized by that age and it is the cat breeder’s duty to ensure that this has taken place.
  • A full and honest enquiry regarding the buying of a kitten should be made in writing explaining whether you intend to keep the cat as a companion (pet) or to breed.
  • I would ask for sight of the contract up front if available and a contract should be available.
  • It is best, by far, to visit the cattery from which you are buying. But in the modern era breeders ship cats by air freight, frequently. That widens the options for buyer and breeders but presents the problem, the very real problem of not having a chance to be with your kitten, to touch and talk and get acquainted. It also prevents an inspection of the premises and a face-to-face chat with the breeder. I couldn’t miss that but if you can the advice seems to be that you should appoint a veterinarian to inspect and approve the kitten for health. Also, under the conditions of buying unseen the contract should allow you to return the kitten if he or she is unhealthy. Of course, a can of worms can be opened up there as the definition of unhealthy is open to interpretation and the breeder may say that you made the cat unhealthy. Or what happens if the flight or (travelling) made the cat unhealthy? Does the contract deal with that?
  • If you are buying a cat to show there will, of course, be no guarantees provided by the seller that your cat will win!
  • What follows are issues of health:

Is the kitten healthy?
Is the kitten healthy? Checklist infographic by MikeB

RELATED: Woman sees stray kitten in Walmart, buys cat food and a carrier and adopts him on the spot

How to Buy a Kitten – Health Issues

The following factors should be observed and noted:

  1. Nose should be cool and slightly moist (condensation). No discharges
  2. Eyes: bright and clear. No discharges. No prominent third eyelid (“a transparent inner eyelid in birds, reptiles, and some mammals that closes to protect and moisten the eye” src: Eyes should look straight ahead. No cross eyes (note: Siamese are susceptible to this – see Siamese cat health problems). Buying a completely white cat with blue eyes? Look for deafness. Same for odd eyed cat that is piebald (white + a color).
  3. Ears: clean and sweet smelling (smell them!). Give him a little kiss and smell at the same time. Brown waxy discharge might mean cat ear mites . This can be dealt with. However, it would not look good for the breeder would it?
  4. Stomach: should not be swollen as it might indicate worms or poor feeding.
  5. Skin: around anus and vulva should be healthy looking.
  6. Coat: fluffy, clean, glossy, no mats, all commonsense stuff. Look for bare patches (possible feline mange or cat ringworm).

Super-looking Kitten
Super-looking Kitten. Photo in public domain.

How to Buy a Kitten – Soundness

  1. Legs: straight and well formed.
  2. Feet: cupped and toes arched.
  3. Activity: should jump and pounce with ease. Should not be: limp, sway, stumble or be uncoordinated.
  4. Weight: at 10 weeks it should be about 2 pounds dependent on cat breed and the individual cat (see largest domestic cat breed).

How to Buy a Kitten – Personality

  1. Should relate well to the other cats, other animals and to people. Should be confident and deal with noise well. Should be responsive to encouragement to play.
  2. Observe the kitten’s mother and father as these personalities will be handed down.

From How to Buy a Kitten to Cat Facts


  • PoC
  • Me
  • About Cats
  • Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson & Giffin

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