How To Buy A Kitten
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). Lets 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.
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:
How to Buy a Kitten – Health Issues
The following factors should be observed and noted:
- Nose should be cool & damp. No discharges
- Eyes: bright & 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: http://dictionary.reference.com). 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).
- 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?
- Stomach: should not be swollen as it might indicate worms or poor feeding.
- Skin: around anus and vulva should be healthy looking.
- Coat: fluffy, clean, glossy, no mats, all commonsense stuff. Look for bare patches (possible feline mange or cat ringworm).
How to Buy a Kitten – Soundness
- Legs: straight & well formed.
- Feet: cupped and toes arched.
- Activity: should jump and pounce with ease. Should not be: limp, sway, stumble or be uncoordinated.
- 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
- 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.
- Observe the kitten’s mother and father as these personalities will be handed down.
- About Cats
- Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson & Giffin
Picture: by Terry Bain – published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License — this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue. This kitten has no connection with health issues as far as I am aware and in fact is a rescue kitten now, hopefully, rehomed.