Choosing a New Kitten

What better gift to give yourself or someone you know (that really wants it) than a kitten.

With the holidays approaching, the thoughts of kittens and puppies fill the air.

So, before you get too terribly excited I have decided to be a calming influence and remind you of a few things before you go looking for that kitten.

First of all, cats are not small dogs.

Cats do not have the same mind set a dog has.

Caring for a cat is different than caring for a dog.

Each species has its own set of needs and characteristics.

There is an old adage that says people don’t generally choose their cats, cats choose people.

Dogs need leaders, cats do not.

A dog will submit to being held, receiving many pets and staying close to you.

A cat will only if it wants to, and most of the time it doesn’t.

Cats can be trained to do tricks, but it takes patience on your part and willingness on the part of the cat.

Cats, even though they seem like solitary creatures, really do need human companionship.

They need to play and have exercise just as dogs do, except they need to be motivated by you.

Dogs dig and chew things, cats scratch things unless given proper scratching posts.

Scratching is as natural as meowing is to a cat and you have to be prepared to accept that and be prepared to offer places for the cat to scratch.

This is very important, as scratching not only gives the cat exercise, it helps strengthen muscles and aids in the shedding of its claws.

Some cats need to be brushed often, depending on whether your cat is a long or short haired cat.

Cats can suffer from hairballs due to their “self-cleaning” efforts.

I suggest “hairball treats” mixed with their dry food.

Speaking of food, cats need a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.

Cats are not vegetarians.

Cats are really meat eaters (mice,) but since mice do not come canned or dried, I suggest good nutritious canned and dry food for their diet.

Many cats have dental problems as they get older. Brushing your cat’s teeth is recommended, however from where I sit, brushing a cat’s teeth is only for the brave and stout hearted.

I personally use several of the cat treats that are in the market place to do the job for me and my 10 year old cat’s teeth look mighty good to me and our vet.

Now that we have covered some of the basics regarding cat care, let’s give some thought to what you should be looking for when picking out a kitten.

Remember, you are looking for a kitten and not a puppy, so anything you know about picking out a puppy will not work here.

Choosing a kitten is not “rocket science” and it really is more guess work than anything else, as it is hard to know what kind of cat, a kitten will grow up to be.

From my experience as a “cat person” there are a few important things to look for; the first one being, have the kittens been handled and socialized.

I cannot emphasize this enough, we have a 10 year old male cat that we got when he was a 9 week old feral kitten that was not socialized.

Boots is probably the most loved cat in the world, but he is afraid of everything and everyone, including us most of the time.

It is very sad to see what not socializing a pet can do to their whole existence, when faced with the real world.

The number one rule is the kitten has had to be handled and loved.

Next, does the kitten like being held, a kitten that squirms and tries to get away will not make a great family pet.

Secondly, be patient and watch the litter, wait to see which kitten will come over to you. A kitten that will approach you generally means it likes human contact.

Look for a wide-eyed kitten that shows a little curiosity, is it playing and pouncing around with the other kittens?

Take a Ping-Pong ball with you, roll it across the kitten’s line of sight to see if it will go after it, if it doesn’t respond I would look for another kitten, as this one might be fearful and scared.

Another test (do not do this at home) is to pick up the kitten by the scruff of the neck (like mom does,) if it squirms for a bit and then calms down that is a sign of a good temperament.

However, if it continues to struggle, that may be a sign the kitten will grow up to be aggressive.

One of the best ways to judge a kitten is by its mother. If mom is a contented and social cat, the kittens, nine chances out of ten will be too.

If mom is not friendly the chances are the kittens will not be very friendly either, as the kittens learn most of what they will ever know from mom in those few short weeks they spend with her.

From our experience a fearful kitten will always stay a fearful kitten as our Mr. Boots will attest to that.

If you are looking for a purebred kitten you really need to read up on the temperaments of the different breeds.

People are not as interested in a cat’s breed as they are when looking for a dog, but certain breeds have definite characteristics that are worth looking into.

Once you have your bundle of joy home remember, kittens and cats love to climb, play, jump and scratch, it is up to you to provide all those things for its comfort or pay the price of having “kitty” climbing all over your “stuff.”

As a closing thought, remember the older cats they make great pets, too.

Older cats are calmer, need love just as kittens do and make a great pet for an older person to enjoy.

If you are thinking of getting a kitten or giving one here is a great book to either have or give.

So! You Want to Get a Cat by Audrey Fox Frederick is one book every cat owner should have.

This book answers hundreds of questions, gives you helpful instructions and plenty of advice on solving all your cat problems.

Whatever you do, do not give a gift of a pet without first making certain it will be a welcome gift.

The pet shelters are filled with too many unwanted pets.