10 Tips on Selecting a Cat That’s Right For You

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So you’re ready to adopt a cat.  OK, great!  You’ve made that decision but now it’s time to make about 1000 more decisions!  It may seem daunting when figuring out how you’re going to select your new feline family member but as long as you stick to a reasonable guideline it might become easier and possibly fun.

There are a number of things to consider here.  First of all you might have yourself a roommate for the next 15 years.  Ask yourself if you really want that responsibility.  Remember, cats, while fun, require a great deal of work.  If you truly are ready to take the plunge then consider these 10 tips to help you along the way…..

Kitten or cat?

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Kittens are adorable, curious, playful, and full of energy. They can also be exasperating at times, demanding lots of supervision to keep them out of trouble and patience when they get into it. And a kitten is an unknown entity—you really don’t know what kind of cat you’ll end up with once she outgrows her kitten personality.

Consider Your Kitten’s Age

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While kittens have usually been weaned before 8 weeks of age, most experts agree that they should stay with their mother and/or littermates until 12 weeks of age. This allows for optimal social development. If a kitten has been taken away from her mother before the weaning process is complete, she may develop troubling behaviors like suckling on fingers and other objects.

Check for Personality

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No matter how bad you want that one with tiger stripes on her back, don’t choose your kitten based on looks alone. Instead, watch how the kittens play and interact so you can get a glimpse into each one’s personality. Most kittens get sleepy after a feeding, so try to pick a time to visit the litter when the kittens are active. Here are a few things to keep in mind when watching kittens. Look for playful, confident kittens if you have young children. A timid kitten may not feel comfortable in a home where young children want to play. Get down on the floor. See how the kitten reacts to your presence. Well-socialized kittens should be comfortable and unafraid. Play with the kittens. Using something other than your finger or hand, entice the kitten to play. She should express an interest. Pick them up. After playtime, try to hold a kitten. A little squirming is perfectly normal, but she shouldn’t bite or hiss. Ask questions. The way a kitten was raised can have a huge impact on her personality. Learn everything you can about her history. Kittens that weren’t introduced to humans by 7 weeks of age sometimes have trouble bonding with them.

Have Your Vet Check Your Kitten’s Health

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To avoid any unpleasant surprises, it’s always best to have a vet check your kitten’s health before you adopt, rather than afterwards. Many kittens have fleas, ear mites or intestinal worms. While this may not prevent you from adopting, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into and what it might cost. Here are a few important spot checks that can help you select a healthy kitten.

Check the skin and coat. A healthy kitten should have soft fur and no bald spots. Her skin should be free of scabs or rashes. Tiny specs of black dirt in the fur and on the skin may be flea dirt (excrement), indicating a flea infestation.

Inspect your kitten’s body. A normal kitten shouldn’t feel particularly fat or skinny. Her ribs should not be visible. Check the kitten’s belly. If it feels hard or swollen, the kitten may have worms. Check the ears. Clean ears are a good sign. Head-scratching, shaking, or gritty brown or black debris may indicate ear mites. Watch for runny noses, coughing, or sneezing. These may indicate a respiratory infection that’s treatable, but contagious to other cats. Do a dental check. A kitten’s teeth should be white and her gums should be pink, but not red or pale. Ask questions about what your kitten has been eating. She should be eating solid food by the time you adopt. Be wary of dirty rear ends. Your kitten’s anus should be clean and free of any signs of diarrhea. Gauge the kitten’s energy level. If a kitten sleeps constantly or doesn’t want to play, this may be a sign of illness.

Quarantine Your Kitten

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Have a vet examine your kitten as soon as possible, preferably before you even bring her home. In addition, it’s important that you keep your kitten separated from other household pets for a quarantine period. This way, you can be sure she’s free of any infectious diseases like feline leukemia before introducing your new kitten to the rest of your pets.

Consider Two Kittens

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Many experts recommend adopting two kittens at the same time for a couple of reasons. First, these kittens can continue to socialize and learn from one another after leaving their littermates. Also, it’s important to remember that adult cats can be territorial. So it may be easier to adopt two kittens rather than trying to introduce a new one later down the road. With that under consideration, don’t agree to take home more kittens that you can care for.

Make Special Plans for Special-Needs Kittens

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If you decide to adopt a kitten with special needs, it’s important to understand the increased level of time and veterinary care involved. Kittens with health problems may not live as long as healthy cats and can cost exponentially more to care for. Talk to your vet about what to expect if you’re considering a special needs kitten.

Bringing home a kitten can be a wonderful addition to your life, just make sure that you’ve done everything in advance that you can to prepare yourself and make sure that you and the kitten are a good fit.

Short fur or long?

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This is mainly a matter of preference and your willingness to devote time to regular grooming. Long-haired cats require frequent grooming sessions to prevent matting Not all cats enjoy being brushed, though, and you could wind up having to take your long-hair to a groomer to be shaved down.

Short-haired cats don’t require as much brushing, but it helps to remove loose fur, stimulate the skin, and distribute oils through the coat. A cat who likes being groomed will come running when she sees the brush.

Purebred or mixed breed?

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There are far fewer cat breeds than dog breeds. Most dog breeds evolved from the type of work they were meant to do., Cat breeds were developed mostly for companionship. So there are fewer personality differences between cat breeds.

If you have your heart set on a specific breed, make sure you research that breed thoroughly as well as the breeder (if you choose to buy a purebred). Some breeds are prone to certain medical problems, and there are breeders that are not that careful about their breeding programs.

Male or Female?

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This is a matter of preference. So long as you spay or neuter your cat, there is no noticeable difference in personality or temperament between genders.

Thanks to Vetstreet and the Humane Society for these tips



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