Choosing a Breeder
- Do they guarantee the health of the kitten and if so for how long? Is it ok for you to e-mail or phone them with any queries once you have the kitten at home? Any breeder worth their salt will be happy to provide you with as much help as is required after you've bought your kitten.
- Don't buy a purebred kitten from a pet shop or an unregistered cattery. You will not be supplied with the cat's papers and you don't know anything about the cat's history. Almost all unregistered breeders offer no guarantee with the kitten, many don't perform routine checks on their animals. Many breeders sell kittens microchipped, fully vaccinated and already desexed. This not only saves you time running around organising it yourself but it often saves you money because breeders are able to pass on their veterinary discounts and therefore save you money. NSW law states that cats obtained after 1st July 1999 must be microchipped, so pet shops are required to sell kittens that have had this done, but most pet shops/unregistered breeders don't sell their kittens desexed and they will also require an additional vaccination, which can work out costly in the long run.
- You may think you are saving money buying from an unregistered breeder but more likely than not you end up greatly out of pocket because their kittens are often sick and require expensive veterinary care.
- Don't buy a kitten just because you feel sorry for him because he looks sick or unhappy. You may think you are doing the right thing by getting the kitten out of such an environment but in the long run you are not doing any favours. By lining the pockets of unregistered and or unethical breeders who don't take proper care of their animals you are just encouraging them to continue by buying their stock. Once again, you will often end up hugely out of pocket with veterinary bills etc.
- If you are unsure if a breeder is registered through the cat body they claim to be, ask for proof of registration. If they won't supply this, go elsewhere.
Choosing the right breed for you:
Have a think about what you are looking for in a cat. Do you want one who is constantly by your side, or would you prefer a more independent type of cat? What about coat length? Do you want a longhaired cat or a shorthaired cat? The following articles may help you to choose the perfect breed to suit your needs.
How much does a purebred kitten cost?
Prices of pedigree cats can vary on the 'quality' and the breed. Breeders sometimes sell cats who may have a minor flaw. This could include incorrect eye colour, a slight kink in the tail or something else that makes it less than perfect to breed from and show, but doesn't have any effect on the his health or personality. So, if you are buying a pedigree cat just as a pet and you don’t plan to show or breed from him, a pet quality cat will be ideal. These are cheaper than show and breeding quality cats. When you speak to the breeder let her know exactly what you want your cat for. If you want to show your cat, you will pay a little more for a show quality cat. Generally breeding cats are the most expensive to buy.
Rarer breeds also tend to be more expensive than other more commonly available breeds. It costs a lot of money to obtain breeding stock, particularly with newer or rarer breeds who often have to be imported from overseas. As a general rule of thumb, you would expect to pay around $600-800 for a more readily available breed such as a Burmese, and upwards of $1,000 plus for less common breeds.
What to look for in a healthy and happy kitten:
Try to take a look at the parents, their nature will give you a good indication of what their kitten's nature will be like. Do the cats appear happy and healthy?
When you are deciding on a kitten give him a discreet look over, check his ears, eyes, bottom and nose. Never buy a kitten with discharge coming from the eyes or nose or dirty ears. The kitten's coat should look and feel healthy, you should not see or feel any dry skin or scabs. There should not be a greasy feel to the coat, which could mean the kitten has not been properly groomed by its mother.
Many breeders will ask you a lot of questions, this is because they have raised these kittens from birth and want to make sure that they are going to the best possible home and that you, the buyer are fully aware of the responsibility of owning an animal that can live for up to 20 years.
Some questions the breeder may ask you may include:
Do you plan to for the kitten to be indoors only?
Many breeders won't sell their kittens to people who plan to let their cats outside, unless they are either supervised, in an enclosure or on a harness. Too many cats are killed on the roads, or by other animals.
Will you be breeding from this cat?
If not, the breeder may well desex the kitten before you take him home. This is fairly common practice among breeders.
How Much Time Do You Spend At Home?
If you are out for long hours daily the breeder may recommend you get a second cat. This is because a cat left for long hours daily will get lonely and could even become destructive.
One final comment, responsible breeders go to a great deal of effort to keep their cattery disease free so please show a little respect when you go to visit a kitten and don’t go directly from one cattery to another. This is especially important when you are handling young kittens as their immune systems are not fully developed.
Questions for the Breeder:
- Does the kitten come desexed?
- Does the breeder regularly check her cats for infectious diseases? Such as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukaemia).
- How many vaccinations has the kitten had? When is its next one due? You should get a signed vaccination certificate from the breeder.
- Does the kitten come microchipped?
- Has the kitten been regularly wormed?
- Does the kitten come with official cat club registration papers? If so, do you get the papers when you pick up your kitten or when you show proof the kitten has been desexed? Will the pedigree be transferred into YOUR name or kept in the breeder's name? Some owners don't mind what name the official pedigree remains in, while others do. It is better to sort this out before money has exchanged hands.
- Does the breeder offer any kind of medical guarantee for the first few days after you have taken the kitten home?
- Is the breeder registered and if so, with whom?
- Is the breeder willing to provide you with help and advice AFTER you have taken the kitten home?
- Is the kitten you're buying a pet, show or breeding quality?
- If you want to show your cat, make sure you specify this to the breeder in advance. When you collect your cat, ensure you have the official cat club pedigree, and that it is in YOUR name.
- When asking questions, try to get everything in writing, so if there is a dispute at a later date you have evidence of health guarantees, promises made by the breeder. This may help your cause if you have to take either legal action or contact the breeder's official cat club.
Things to Buy
Before your kitten comes home you will have to buy a few items.
- A cat bed, with or without a blanket.
- Cat toys, most cats love toy mice, but even basic homemade toys can provide hours of entertainment. Anybody who has owned a cat knows how much pleasure they get out of hiding in paper bags and cardboard boxes. They also enjoy batting around a screwed up piece of paper.
- Food bowls. Stainless steel, china or glass are preferable to plastic bowls. You will need at least two. One for food and one for water. Clean fresh water MUST be available at all times.
Litter tray. I like to buy the small "kitten" sized trays to start with. I feel the larger ones can be a little too overwhelming for a small kitten. You can upgrade to a larger one once the kitten has grown. It is best to start by using the same cat litter the breeder used. If you want to change this, do it gradually over a few days by mixing in a little of your preferred litter. There is a lot of controversy over clumping litter and it is not our place to pass judgement on such matters. It is up to you to become informed and choose which kind of litter suits you best. That said, if you are planning to use clumping litter, at least wait until the kitten has grown up. Clumping litter should NEVER be used with kittens. Most people I speak to think
"Breeders Choice" cat litter is the best. It is safe to use, holds in smells and good for the environment.
- Last but definitely not least, you will need a scratching post. Cats scratch for several reasons. Clawing is part of the cat's grooming regime, old layers of the claw are shed. Cats also have scent glands in their feet and when they scratch they put their scent on the object. When a cat has just woken up it may go over to its favourite scratching spot. This is done to stretch the muscles of the shoulders and back.
Finding a Vet
It is important to find a vet both you and your cat trust. You will build a relationship with your vet that will last for years and years. Ask friends and neighbours who they use. Your breeder may be able to recommend a vet in your area. When you find a vet, ask if they have an after hours number.
If they don't, can they recommend an alternative vet for after-hours emergencies? It's always wise to get this information before the event. Hopefully, you will never have any reason to call an emergency vet, but it's always prudent to be prepared. Don't choose a vet by price alone, the cheapest vet isn't always the best choice.
Taking Your Kitten Home
You are now about to go home with your new kitten, but before you do, have you found out the diet that the kitten has been having and will need to have for a while when you get it home? What type of litter it has been used to. Almost all breeders will give you a starter kit to go with your kitten. It generally includes a small sample pack of the food the kitten has been used to eating, a diet sheet and any other information you need to know relating to the kitten’s care. Also, make sure that there is an agreement that the breeder will take the kitten back should it not work out with you. This is highly unlikely in most cases but it can happen and you need to be sure that this is agreed to. Ensure you have a proper cat carrier to take your kitten home in. You will use this quite often as you take your cat back and forth to the vets over time.
Now that you have your kitten home there are a number of things to remember. Firstly the kitten will be very disorientated as it has been taken from a known environment into an unknown one. Your kitten may be quite timid for a few days, this is normal. Make sure that you have the kitten in one quiet room of the house to start with so it can get used to that room and then allow it to explore from there. If you are able to, have the kitten with you for the first few nights as it will need the company to help him get over the shock of suddenly being on its own. A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel and a ticking clock can often help settle your kitten down. Your kitten may not eat for the first 24 hours so don’t be too worried if this happens. He will soon get over his reluctance to do so. I have found that small juicy tidbits like cooked chicken meat are very good for this especially when given on my knee. Never give your cat cooked chicken bones. Don't give your cat food straight from the fridge, warm it up a little in the microwave first, but be careful it's not so hot the kitten burns his mouth. If you wish to give your kitten milk you can buy specially formulated "cat milk" from the supermarket. This is lactose-free. Cats often have a problem with the lactose in cow's milk and it can upset their tummy. If you have any problems, your kitten’s breeder should be more than willing to offer you over the phone support. Most breeders will give you a diet sheet, try to stick to this because a sudden change in diet can upset a cat's tummy. If you don't wish to feed the food the breeder has been using then SLOWLY introduce your chosen brand of food over a few days.
Kittens can get into all sorts of trouble so it is important to cat proof your home before the new arrival. Make sure the toilet seat and lid are down at all times. Many kittens have drowned in the toilet. If you have houseplants, make sure they are nontoxic to cats.
Make sure cupboard doors are closed at all times and never leave the washing machine or dryer door open. Keep medicine and poisons in a child-proof cupboard.
I STRONGLY recommend taking your new kitten to your own vet for a check up within a day or so of bringing him home. This way, if there are problems with his health, they can be picked up quickly and you can contact the registered breeder. If s/he has sold you a sick kitten, they have an obligation to either pay the vet's bills or take the kitten back and give you a full refund. If your kitten is sick, ask the vet to put it down in writing so you can pass this information onto the breeder. Make sure you take a photocopy for your own records.
Isolate your kitten in a quiet room for a few days to let him settle in. Do not allow contact with other cats you may already have for a week or two. Definitely, hold off doing this until your new kitten has had a thorough check up with your own vet and been given a clean bill of health. We do not recommend you allow your cat to roam outdoors for a number of reasons, the most important being that the cat can get hit by a car, be exposed to sick cats or get into fights with other animals. If you don't follow these procedures it may well make the breeder's written health guarantee null and void.
A Few Extra Tips
Hopefully, your cat will live for a good 15-20 years, it is a long commitment but one that is incredibly rewarding. As the cat's owner it is your responsibility for the cat's life to ensure:
- The cat is vaccinated annually.
- The cat receives proper vet care when it gets sick or injured (if in doubt, check it out with the vet).
- You maintain a proper worming and flea regime.
- As more and more cats are kept indoors it's prudent to learn how to trim a cat's claws. Please read our page on how to do this, if you are still unsure, ask your vet to show you.
Kitten Care Toilet Training A Kitten Bringing A New Kitten Home Kitten Food