Where to look for a new kitten

Where to look for a new kitten

Posted by PetDirect on 21st Jun 2022

Decided to open your home and heart to a new furry family member? Fantastic! When you want to find a new kitten, you can either go to a breeder or adopt through a rescue group. In this guide, you’ll learn the benefits of both breeders and adopting so you can decide which might be best for you. You’ll also discover everything you need to think about before welcoming a new kitten, including how to choose the right one for you.

The benefits of a breeder

You might choose a breeder if you want a pedigree cat. It’s important you use a reputable, registered breeder who’s committed to the health and wellbeing of their kittens. Hop online to find cat breeders in your area. Reputable breeders will follow recommended breeding policies and use health screening schemes, if needed. Breeders should provide:

  • Information on your kitten’s current diet and care, including whether they’re litter trained.
  • Details of your kitten’s lineage and a registration certificate, if they’re a pedigree.
  • Any screening test results for your kitten and their parents, if applicable.
  • Dates of their last flea and worm treatments and vaccinations.

You should be able to watch your kitten with their mother and their siblings, and you should be able to hold all the kittens until you choose your perfect one. Seeing your kitten’s mother is really important as you can make sure their heritage is healthy and you can get some idea of their personality as they grow up.

The benefits of adopting

Although there are costs involved in adopting a kitten, it’s a lot more affordable to adopt a kitten than buy one from a breeder. But the benefits of adopting a kitten are more than financial. It’s your chance to give a kitten something they haven’t had: a loving home. Rescue groups are often full of cats and kittens pets that have been abandoned, abused, or well-loved but sadly with owners who aren’t able to care for them anymore.

Plus, rescues will work with you to find the right kitten and ensure that all their kittens are healthy and ready for their new home. This normally includes being vet checked, temperament tested, desexed, vaccinated, wormed and deflead, and microchipped.

How to adopt a kitten

Start by finding a suitable rescue group with a good reputation. The best way to do this is online, but you could also ask friends and family for recommendations or your local vet. Most rescue groups have online listings of their available kittens and cats. Normally you’ll apply online to adopt a kitten and will then be invited in to meet some, along with any other family members (including furry ones).

Some rescues adoption centres might arrange a home visit before you adopt a kitten to make sure it’s safe and suitable for them.

What to consider before getting a kitten

Before you head online and lose yourself in hours of kitten-related scrolling, here’s a handy list of things to consider before getting a kitten. Not only will these help you understand if a kitten is right for you, but they’ll help you decide what type of kitten you’re looking for.

  • Can you care for a kitten for their whole life? Cats can live up to 15-20 years so are a life-long commitment.
  • Can you afford to care for a kitten? Pet fees can add up and include food, treats, worm and flea treatments, annual vaccinations and health checks, collars, toys, litter and bedding as well as pet insurance or unexpected medical bills.
  • Is your home suitable for a kitten and cat? If it’s going to be an outdoor cat, remember that cats can get hurt on busy roads and affect local wildlife.
  • Will a kitten fit into your lifestyle? Kittens especially need lots of human company and interaction. So, if you work long hours, have a busy social life, or travel a lot, it wouldn’t be fair to get a kitten right now. Some kittens are more independent than others, who always need a comfy lap nearby.
  • Do you already have pets? Make sure your new kitten will be accepted by other furry family members.
  • Do you have young children? Not all kittens have had positive life experiences and can be shy or timid which means noisy, busy children can be hard for them. More outgoing kittens who thrive on attention might love young children.
  • How much time do you have each day? If you’ve got lots of time to commit to grooming, a long-haired kitten could work for you. Otherwise, a medium- or short-haired kitten might be a better choice.

How to choose your ideal kitten

When you’re starting out in your cat ownership journey, it can be easy to get distracted by online listings or visits to see cute kittens. Here’s how to find the perfect pet for you.

1. Consider breeds

If you have a certain breed in mind already, it makes sense to find reputable breeders. Although every kitten’s personality and temperament is different, their breed can tell you a lot about them physically and mentally.

Rescue centres usually have a range of domestic kittens.

2. Check they’re healthy

When you meet your new kitten for the first time, there are a few ways to check their health:

  • First, make sure they’re at least 9 weeks old. This is when kittens are fully weaned from their mothers - they shouldn't be separated before then.
  • Then look at their eyes, which should be clean and clear, with no discharge.
  • Their nose should be clear, cool, a little damp and free of any mucus. They shouldn’t be sneezing.
  • Their ears should be clean and pink. Look for any dark brown, waxy discharge; black specks; oozing; or smells which can all be signs of infection or ear mites.
  • Their tummy shouldn’t be swollen or bloated which are both signs of poor nutrition or worms.
  • Their bum should be free of any sign of diarrhoea.
  • Their coat should be glossy and mat-free.
  • Their limbs should be straight and they should jump and move around easily.
  • Watch how they interact with their littermates and mother - they should be alert and curious about everything around them.

3. Pay attention to their personality

Breeders and rescue groups alike should help you decide which kitten is right for you, based on their personality. Personality traits to consider include how adventurous or shy they are; how energetic or relaxed they are; and how independent or cuddly they are. Expect breeders and rescue groups to ask you about your ideal kitten to help steer choosing the perfect pet.

Meeting your kitten for the first time

You want to get your feline friendship off to the best possible start and that begins with your first meeting. Here’s how to have a successful one:

  1. Let them take the lead. Offer the kitten your closed fist and keep it below their head. Let them decide to sniff, rub and get to know you a bit better. Or they might decide they don’t want you touching them, and that’s ok too. If they’re keen on contact with you, take it slow and don’t rush to pet them. Sudden movements can be scary for tiny kittens.
  2. Go for long, slow blinks. Like a lot of animals, staring is a sign of aggression for cats and kittens. Brief eye contact is fine, but remember to look away or to the side. In cat speak, long, slow blinks mean “I’m your friend and I won’t hurt you”.
  3. Get on their level. Your height and size can be intimidating. Sit down so you’re closer to their level, which is less frightening for them.
  4. See what they’re telling you. All cats and kittens have areas they love to be petted - and areas they don’t. Until you know them better, stick to petting their cheeks, chin and neck. Watch out for body language that’s telling you to back off. This includes things like swishing their tail, staring, and rapidly turning their head.
  5. Ask their caregiver. Every kitten is different, with their own unique personality and likes and dislikes. Whether you’re with the breeder or at an adoption centre, listen to the kitten’s caregiver who can tell you how they’re likely to respond and anything to try (or avoid).
  6. Don’t push it. The kitten might not want to meet you so try not to push it. If they move away, don’t follow or grab for them. The kitten’s telling you they need space and it’s important you respect that.  

We hope this guide helps you find the perfect kitten for you. If you need any further help or have a question we haven’t answered, contact our friendly Pet Direct Customer Care team on 0800 200 240 or email support@petdirect.co.nz.

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