How to Choose a New Kitten

Consider what kind of cat fits with your lifestyle and home.

Before you set out for the shelter, consider where and how you live as well as the type of kitten you’d like to have. Does your home have other pets? Could you take in multiple littermates? Will you be away from home often? Would you be able to do the frequent brushing needed for long-haired kittens? Are you looking for a laid-back lap cat, or would a more energetic personality work well? If other family members are part of the decision-making process, get their input as well.

Know a healthy appearance

Healthy kittens will have bright eyes that are free of discharge. Their coats will be clean and shiny and their ears will be free of dirt. Healthy kittens won’t be sneezing or squinting or appear to have a cold. And look for excessive scratching or licking, which may be a sign of fleas or other parasites.

Look for healthy behaviors

Shelters will often have potential adopters spend some time with a kitten before making any adoption decisions. Use part of that time to look for healthy behaviors. Healthy kittens will be alert and curious, not listless or lethargic. The kitten should be friendly, approachable and easy to handle.

Learn a kitten’s personality

Also use any pre-adoption time to get to know a kitten’s personality type. Shyer kittens may take longer to adjust to a busy household or one with young children or other pets. Very energetic kittens will need more exercise and kitten-proofing the house may be more difficult. If you prefer a lap cat, choose a kitten that settles down quickly when you pick him or her up and is very responsive to petting.

After the adoption

Schedule a visit to the vet for your new kitten, and be sure to ask any questions you have around his or her health or behavior. And remember that these tips on choosing a kitten are just that—guidelines and recommendations. You may find that the kitten you select—or the one that picks you first—is not at all what you had in mind going in to the shelter. And that kitten is still the right one for you!


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