If you have decided that you can afford the time and money for getting a cat at home, where can you go to select the new member of your family? If specific breed appeals to you, ask your veterinarian for a list of reputable breeders in the area. The Cat Fanciers’ Association lists more than 30,000 cat breeders throughout the United States and Canada. You can also check the daily newspapers or the specialty magazines.
If you want a pedigreed pet, avoid outlets. The breeding that produces outlet kittens is often indiscriminate, with no regard for good physical and mental characteristics. Crowding, malnutrition, intestinal parasites, and stress make the kittens vulnerable to many viral and bacterial diseases. The most critical period in the formation of a cat’s personality is the first sixteen weeks of life. Outlet kittens are given little love and attention during this times a tragedy that can affect them for the rest of their lives.
Breeders’ home-raised kittens are generally healthy and well socialized because reputable breeders usually follow a standard procedure before breeding, during pregnancy, and at nursing that will give the newborns every chance at healthy and long life. The new kittens are also checked, vaccinated, and wormed (if necessary) by a licensed local veterinarian. Most important, they are handled gently and given lots of love during the critical socialization period.
Breeders’ kittens actually cost less, in most cases, than outlet pets, since the breeder does not have high advertising costs and overhead (shipping costs, rent, and employees’ salaries). The breeder is in it not because of the money but because of a love for fine physical and mental specimens of the breed.
Mixed-breed cats can be found through newspaper ads, through the neighborhood pipeline, through notices on veterinarians’ bulletin boards, or at the local humane shelters. There can be drawbacks to getting a non pedigreed kitten. Since the mother may not have had good prenatal care, the kittens have more young-ser problems, such as external and internal parasites, and their future tempera-met is harder to predict unless you can see the home where they were raised and the temperament of the parents. But these are correctable problems given the help of your veterinarian and a lot of tender loving care and proper training. Remember, mixed breeds are beautiful!
The best time to form a human bond with a cat is when the cat is very young, from seven to twelve weeks old. (Anything younger should still be with its mother.)But don’t forget that adult cats, especially at humane shelters, are begging for homes, too. That’s where Morris the Cat of television fame was found.
To help overcome the They’re all so cute, which should we take? syndrome, go through the following checklist:
Is This a Good Breeder and a Good Cattery?
Of course, your veterinarian’s recommendation is usually adequate, but your own observations are important. A good breeder will keep the kennel clean and orderly. He or she will also be active in cat shows and be interested in improving the breed. Do the owners seem to love their cats? Does the breeder want to know about you, you’re family, and your lifestyle? A good breeder will not sell cats to just anyone. Visit several breeders. This will give you a feel for the breed and more information. Be sure to telephone for an appointment. Private coteries are part of the breeder’s home, and this fact should be respected.
Can We Meet the Kitten’s Parents?
Meeting the mother and father will give you some idea of the eventual size and temperament of the kittens. The cat’s parents should be friendly and outgoing, not vicious or shy. They should be FLV and FTLV negative.
This Is the One We Want!
- select a kitten that seems physically healthy, with;
- no eye or nose discharges;
- no black debris in the ears;
- a healthy, glossy coat with no hair loss or reddened, scabby areas;
- no fleas or ticks;
- pink gums;
- no coughing;
- firm bowel movements;
- no lump at the belly button (this would indicate an umbilical hernia, which can be corrected with surgery, or, if small, can be left untreated);
- also, select one that is temperamentally well balanced;
- responds to your attention;
- doesn’t mind being held.