Choose the Kitten That Is Right For You
-- Text by Kitty Angell
The "right" kitten for you can be easy to find if you'll follow a few easy guidelines. The kitten you pick will be your companion for
approximately the next 18 years if it is kept indoors. Follow these easy guidelines and your search will be much easier.
Do you want a big fluffy love muffin that wants to sit in your lap and be combed? Then you should consider a Persian or possibly a
Birman. Ocicats, Bombays, Abyssinians, and Singapuras are good choices if you want an exotic, wild-look to your cat. If you like to
carry on conversations with your cat, a Siamese is a sure bet. Cornish Rex and Turkish Angoras are extremely active and there is never a
dull moment with them! Before you start shopping, decide what kind of personality suits you the best. Some cats are easy-going and
laid-back, while others are active and playful. Will you be introducing your new kitten to a household that already has a dog, a child,
or another cat? You might want to read some behavioral books on how to introduce a new kitten to the family. An excellent book that
addresses integrating a new kitten into the household is The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book, edited by Mordecai Siegal.
This Cat Fanciers Association web site gives a complete description and temperament sketch on each of the various breeds of cat, or you
can requst a printed brochure via email (please specify a breed and include your mailing address.)
Try to find out as much about the kitten's history as possible. If you are buying from a breeder, make sure he or she has a good
reputation. Ask for the names of several people who own cats from the breeder that can be used as references. Ask if you can speak with
the breeder's veterinarian. If possible, visit the breeder's home. It is most important that kittens are raised in a clean, healthy
environment with plenty of space to play. Remember that whole Tom cats in a cattery will tend to spray, which may result in a slight
odor in the home that is not out of the ordinary. If, however, you find the home or cattery has an overwhelming foul smelling odor, just
politely end your conversation and leave. Ask if there are any illnesses or inherited disorders that are common to the breed of cat you
are contemplating. Ask about the longevity of the kitten's ancestors. Make sure the breeder provides you with a health record listing
the vaccinations that have already been given. Most breeders make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve
weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and have also developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment.
Many breeders will have already altered (neutered or spayed) the kitten to save you the cost and anxiety of doing so later.
Check the kitten for clean eyes, clean ears, and push the coat back to look for evidence of fleas (small black specks in the coat, most
notably on the back near the base of the tail). Never leave with a kitten that is sickly. If the kitten has a runny nose or eyes, sores
on the skin, or is coughing and sneezing you are in for problems and costly vet bills. Always take your new kitten immediately to your
veterinarian to have a thorough examination. Your kitten should already have been given preliminary vaccinations but it will be up to
your vet to decide if more are needed. The vet will also want to check for external and internal parasites. If the kitten is unaltered
you will need to schedule the procedure with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
A pedigree, or family history, and CFA registration papers will most likely be available when you pick up your kitten. An application
for CFA registration, commonly called a "blue slip," will allow you to register the kitten with your chosen name and yourself as the
new owner. You should receive this paperwork, especially if your new kitten is already altered. In some instances, if your kitten is not
altered, a breeder will have a clause in their sales contract noting that registration paperwork will be given upon receipt of written
notification of neuter or spay. It is not uncommon for a breeder to place a "not for breeding" restriction on an unaltered kitten that
is being sold as a pet. If you are interested in breeding the kitten when it is grown, state this desire up-front. You will need the
registration paperwork, plus the litter PIN number from the breeder in order to register the kitten with breeding rights. Be sure to
keep any and all paperwork connected with the purchase in a safe place -- correspondence, business card, receipt, cancelled cheque,
contract, pedigree, health records, etc.
Once you are home with your new kitten, all you need to do is provide proper nutrition, grooming, and lots of love. Remember that cats
are individuals just like people. Every breed displays certain attributes as a whole, but not every kitten produced in that breed will
have exactly the same temperament. Even a shrinking violet can turn into a tiny tiger in new surroundings!