Where to get a good and healthy kitten?

In our previous article, we encouraged you to ask several questions before making your decision to get a kitten. Hopefully, you have made up your mind and are ready. But before that, you must learn what are the places where you could get a good and healthy kitten.

Are shelters right places to go, are reputable breeders only ones who can guarantee that their kittens will be healthy? Or is bringing a kitten from the street the right choice? We’ll find out.

two kittens playing
An excellent place to get a kitten is a place where it got the ability to play. Photo by Lisa Zins, cc

First, let’s try to identify a good kitten. When trying to define it, we usually think we want it to be healthy. But, also, we want it to grow up as a friendly, outgoing and non-aggressive cat. You’ve probably heard that it is an individual in every cat, and that is true. We call this personality.

But who knew, this a cat’s personality highly depends on what experiences the kitten had in his early life. The kittens early relationships with humans, other pets, and even household items dramatically shape his future personality.

A word of caution here is that this period when kitten learns about good and bad in this world is at the age between two and eight weeks. This is called a socialization period when his brain still develops and learning has the most impact. Normally kittens are rehomed after this has ended, so, unlike dogs, it’s hard to work upon your kitten’s fears when he’s already past socialization age. Not impossible; hard!

This means – when you look for a kitten, keep in mind that most of your kitten’s personality will already be formed. Check how your chosen breeder, shelter, or pet shop was able to raise him in a good company. For example, does your kitten come from a loving family or a mass-cattery? Did he get to have a positive experience with humans or quite the opposite?

Places to go to get a good kitten

Now, let’s take a closer look at places you could get a healthy kitten, and what are things to be aware of.

  • Breeder. If you are looking for a purebred cat, the only place to go is the reputable breeder. Even if you want just a regular cat, reaching for a responsible breeder is an excellent choice. However, the term reputable is slippery. Talk to your nearest cat club, visit cat shows, communicate with other owners who have purebred cats, and, most importantly, visit your chosen breeders at home to check how kittens well they care for the kittens. If the breeder refuses, he’s not a good breeder – it’s ALWAYS true no matter how good excuse the breeder has. Also, breeders who raise kittens in a household environment are a way better choice than those operating large catteries. You can learn more tips to evaluate a cat breeder here.
  • Shelter. Shelters are a good deed, but they are risky. You can have no guarantee that the kitten had good early life experiences, and, in many cases, even the staff of the shelter may not know much about the kitten’s early life. Above all, adopting from a shelter is a good cause; however, if you are intending to do a good thing, go for an adult cat. He has significantly smaller chances to be chosen for adoption than a kitten. Besides, you get what you see — an already developed personality. Almost.
  • A responsible cat owner who had an “accident”. While there’s a slight disagreement with the words “responsible cat owner” and “litter of kittens,” you have to be observant. Is the person who offers kittens is taking good care of them? Bets thing to look for is the cleanliness of the house and overall health and behavior of the kittens. If the person is someone you know well, it really is a nice place to look for a healthy and good kitten. Remember, kittens raised in a household environment have higher chances of being well adapted to life with humans.
  • Cat shows. In general, we do not recommend you to buy kittens in a cat show and take them home. However, it’s a place where to meet good breeders and to learn that they have kittens to offer.
    kittens in a crate at cat show
    Photo by Krzysiu “Jarzyna” Szymanski, cc

    These are, on average, good breeders, because cat shows are an expensive investment and it shows that the breeders are not in the business purely for money. Breeders that are interested in maintaining and improving the specific breed are trying to visit at least some events. Cat shows are also an excellent place to learn to compare. All breeders may look first-class, and all kittens cute if you visit just one litter. However, in a cat show, you will see dozens of breeders and litters, so you will learn quickly to assess them. But remember, do not buy kittens at the cat show. Gather contacts and visit kittens at home before the purchase.

And that’s it. The list of “where to get a good and healthy kitten” is that short. Other places, like pet shops, on-line stores, the street, unknown “old lady” who sells kittens at the front door of the church, are not the best places to go. Of course, if you have an opportunity and possibility to save a kitten — do it. But be ready to put in a lot of work in health-care and training.

Also, remember, there’s never a guarantee that the kitten you choose will grow up well-behaving and healthy, no matter how accurately you pick. It’s still a lottery, but with the knowledge from the above, you can increase your odds significantly. And, if you want to increase them even more, our next article will serve you well.

This article is part of a series for beginner cat owners.
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