Speaking for the furry ones on this earth...

How to Choose the Right Kitten for Your Family

Learn how to choose the right kitten for your family.

If you're thinking about bringing a new kitten into your home, there are some things you'll wish to consider first. Doing so will help ensure that things go as smoothly as possible when you bring your new little one home.

Think About Timing, Age, and Lifestyle

When you're first deciding whether a kitten is right for your family, think about your lifestyle. Is someone home a lot? Are there people available regularly to feed, pet, and play with a kitten? Young cats need lots of time investment, so if your family doesn't have much extra time, an older cat might be a better fit.

When you decide you want a kitten, you'll need to think about her age and lifestyle, too. Most experts agree that kittens should stay with their litters until at least eight weeks of age. This allows them to learn excellent social skills and learn as much as they can from their mother before they join a human family. Without that time, kittens are more likely to develop social problems like pica, wool-sucking, and play aggression.

Adopting a kitten from a shelter is a great idea, but if you are going to consider a purebred cat, make sure you research the general properties of that breed. Some will require more energy-outlets than others and some are more prone to certain medical conditions than others. You can begin to learn about some cat breeds here: "Cat Breed Characteristics."

Check Your New Kitten's Personality

Even after you've researched a kitten's breed, be aware there are individual personality differences. If you're going to look at a litter, take your time. Don't choose a kitten by looks alone, but be sure to take time to interact and play with each kitty so you can evaluate their personality. Look for a kitten that is not scared, is interested in playing with a wand toy, and doesn't bite or hiss when you pick her up.

Also, be sure to ask lots of questions of the breeder. Find out everything you can about the health and personalities of both parents. Learn about how the kittens have been raised so far. Have they been handled by humans a lot or mostly left alone? Those that have been handled and treated as part of a human family will be better socialized and blend into a new family easier.

Get Your Kitten Checked Out

Once you've chosen a kitten, find out what the breeder's policy is for vet checks. Ideally, your kitten should be thoroughly checked over by a veterinarian of your choosing before you take her home. Many times, breeders will give you 24 or 48 hours to have a vet check done and will offer a refund/return if something is found. Specifically, the veterinarian will check for intestinal parasites, external parasites like fleas, ear mites, evidence of skin conditions like ringworm, and suggestions of congenital conditions like a heart murmur.

When you get your kitten home, if you have other cats, quarantine her to a small room away from the others for a period recommended by your veterinarian. Ideally, the kitten should be old enough to be tested for FeLV and FIV before being introduced to other cats. The quarantine period should be at least a few days because many kittens are carrying upper respiratory viruses that take hold because of the stress of moving to a new home. Watch for sneezing, runny eyes, and discharge from the nose. Upper respiratory infection is highly contagious between cats, so quarantining the new kitten can help prevent your resident cats from getting infected.

Other Considerations for a New Kitten

Before you bring your new kitten home, you'll want to be sure you have everything you need ready for her, including kitten food, water, bowls, litter, litter boxes, a harness and leash, a cat carrier, toys, and scratching posts. Learn more here: "Essentials for Your Cat"

You should also consider the veterinary care your kitten will need and be sure you're prepared. Kittens need a series of vaccinations, some testing, and a spay or neuter surgery as well as preventative medications and sometimes treatments for illness. Consider checking out pet insurance before you get your kitten. The earlier you begin your pet insurance policy, the more conditions it will cover. Learn more here: "Pet Insurance: Peace of Mind for Your Cat's Health."

And here: "How to Be Prepared for Your Cat's Veterinary Bills."

You might also wish to learn about proper training methods for kittens before you bring your new family member home. Many people don't believe cats can be trained, but they absolutely can, and the earlier you get started, the better. Training is also a great bonding time for the two of you and can head off potential problems with stress and improper socialization by increasing your kitten's confidence. You will just need to be sure to use positive reinforcement methods and stay away from punishment. Learn more: "Cat Training: Know the Basics."

Finally, be sure to kitten-proof your home before you bring your new family member into it. Hide cords, put away all strings and ribbons including window blind cords, be sure all heavy shelves are bolted to the wall, and keep human food and cleaning supplies put away. Learn more: "Dangerous Places for Cats."

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at CatScratching.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.