Last updated: August 10, 2016
Needless to say, choosing the right kitten for your home is bound to make a difference in the way you and your pet relate. It is thus imperative that you do your homework prior to committing to a relationship that could potentially last many years.
With this in mind, there are many vital things to consider before choosing your new kitten. And the first step in what will hopefully be a long and lasting friendship is choosing your cat, or more specifically, selecting the cat that is right for you. This is, arguably, the biggest and most important decision you will make as regards your cat since a cat, unlike other gadgets, is a living entity that will need your attention and care for the next several years. Below, therefore, we take a look at 9 essential considerations when choosing the right kitten for your home as follows:
Decide on the type of cat you want
This could either be a purebred cat or one from an animal shelter. Animals from shelters come at a fee usually in the range of $70 to $110 for a cat though kittens cost much less. In addition, you may be required to sign commitment papers.
Taking animals from rescue shelters is not only a wonderful idea, but ultimately a cheaper one than buying from breeders although it comes with risks. While animals are quarantined upon arrival at shelters to determine whether they have any illnesses, you may be unfortunate enough to go home with one that is sick and it dies within days or weeks. There are simply no guarantees with animals from shelters.
Cat or kitten
Kittens are curious, adorable, playful, and extremely energetic. However, they can be exasperating and will demand a lot of supervision to prevent them from getting into mischief, and patience when they are up to their antics. Additionally, kittens are considered unknown entities as you really do not know what type of cat you will end up with as soon as they have outgrown their kitten personality.
Conversely, adult cats are less mischievous, less bouncy, and calmer and what is before is usually what you can expect in the long run. Therefore, if you are on the lookout for specific qualities, go for cats aged one year or older.
Male or female
Both female and male cats usually mark their territory by urinating in certain areas of the home. Neutering and spaying should counter such behavior especially when done before the kitten has attained sexual maturity. If you decide to get your kitten from an animal shelter, it will probably come neutered.
When choosing a kitten, keep your family needs in mind. This is because young children and kittens rarely mix well as the latter can be fragile while the former somewhat rough. Further, toddlers and babies are likely to grab a cat either by its ear, tail, or fur, and also cannot resist the impulse to give it a big hug. It is thus prudent to always supervise any interactions between your cat and your youngster.
Cats are similar to humans in that they have individuality. No two are alike, whether from the same litter or even breed. Some cats are known to be extremely mellow and can tolerate any sort of handling, even being dressed up. These are the types that are perfect for kids and older people who appreciate and want such a cat.
Others, however, do not like to be held or picked up and will only seek you out for petting whenever they feel like. While some cats are in perpetual motion, there are those that live to nap.
A cat’s personality is also dependent on its breed. Therefore, if pure breeds interest you, ensure that you seek out one that is right for you. For instance, Persians are typically sedentary and laid-back while exotic breeds such as Bengals (bred with wild genes) are highly active. Alternatively, Siamese cats are synonymous with being loud.
Long or short fur
This is mainly dictated by preference and one’s willingness to allocate time for grooming. Long-haired cats require regular grooming in order to prevent matting. However, not all felines enjoy grooming and you may have to take your cat to a licensed groomer to have their hair shaved down.
Conversely, short-haired cats require less brushing although it is still important to remove loose fur, stimulate its skin cells, and evenly distribute oils throughout its coat. Cats that are not averse to brushing will usually come running at the sight of a brush.
Mixed or purebred
It may come as a surprise to many, but there are more dog breeds than cat breeds. This is because most dog breeds are evolved from the kind of work they were bred to do. The latter, however, were bred mostly for companionship which, perhaps, explains why fewer personality differences exist between cat breeds.
If you are set on a certain breed, ensure that you are well acquainted with it as some are more prone to certain medical conditions than others. Also, some breeders tend not to be thorough in their breeding programs. Generally, mixed breed cats are healthier owing to their diverse gene pools.
Special-needs cats make wonderful companions. Granted, they may be a bit older, blind, deaf, or even have a chronic condition but that does not affect the pleasure and love that they give. All it means is extra commitment on the part of the owner to meet their special needs for as long as they live.
Any more room?
For those who may have other pets at home, it is advisable to consider them prior to bringing a cat home although cats are known to get along with their fellow felines and even more surprising, most dogs too. However, that does not mean that it is an easy task to accomplish and at times, it may be an exercise in futility.
Some cats are perfectly comfortable being the only cat and may resent any newcomers. The general rule is that the more cats in your household, the more problems you are likely to have integrating a new addition as they are likely to be stressed and consequently exhibit undesirable traits such as hiding, fighting, and spraying urine.
And while cats and dogs may indeed be friends, dogs that possess a high drive for prey may find it impossible to resist the urge to chase, terrorize, or even kill a new cat. In addition, cats and birds may co-exist peacefully but keep in mind that felines have a natural hunting instinct and may traumatize your pet birds by trying to get them through the cage’s bars.
By paying due regard to the foregoing considerations, the process of finding the perfect kitten for your home should be easier to navigate. The ideal time to get a kitten should be when it is about 8 weeks although pedigree breeders often choose to release them when they are about 12 weeks old after they have had a vet check and completed their vaccination course.