Home > Mom's Life > Family Relationships > Pets > Choosing a Kitten
|

Choosing a Kitten

If you're getting a kitten, try to choose one you can see with her mother and siblings. If you can, meet the father, too, although this is often not possible. Every kitten differs somewhat from his parents and siblings, but many personality and behavioral traits are inherited, and kittens learn a lot from their mothers. If the mother is calm and friendly with people, chances are her kittens will be, too. If mama cat is shy or un-friendly, her kittens might not be very social, either.

How a kitten is handled also has a profound effect on his development and attitude. A kitten who is handled gently and frequently by different people from his first few days onward and who is exposed to other gentle animals will be more social throughout his life than kittens who are ignored or mistreated during their first few weeks. If he has been exposed to the sights, sounds, and smells of a normal household during this period, he'll be better adjusted and more confident than a kitten raised away from people.

MeowWOW

Ever wonder how kittens within a litter can be very different in color, coat length, body style, even personality? A female cat on the loose often mates with several males when she's in heat, so it's possible for kittens within a litter to have different daddies.

Early handling doesn't negate a kitten's need to be with her mother and siblings, of course. Living in a feline family teaches a kitten to control and behave herself. She finds out that if she bites or scratches, the others retaliate or shun her. She learns that she can't always have what she wants. Kittens who are removed from their mom and siblings too early often fail to learn these lessons. Observe the kittens interacting with one another. A kitten should be confident and playful, but not a bully.

A healthy kitten …

  • Is coordinated and shows no obvious physical problems.
  • Is solid and well proportioned.
  • Is not excessively thin for her breed.
  • Is not pot-bellied (which might indicate roundworms).
  • Has soft, glossy fur.
  • Is free of fleas.
  • Has no red, itchy, or bald spots.
  • Has a clean rectal area with no sign of tapeworm or diarrhea.
  • Has bright, clear eyes.
  • Has pink gums and healthy-smelling breath.
  • Breathes normally with no sneezing, coughing, or wheezing and has no nasal discharge.
  • Has clear eyes, fully open and free of tearing and discharge.
  • Has clean ears, free of odor, inflammation, dirty-looking buildup, or discharge.
  • Should be curious and willing to approach you or at least to be held and cuddled if he's more reserved.
  • Should show interest in a string or toy dragged or tossed on the floor.
  • Is happy and playful—unless she's asleep!

A lethargic kitten might be ill, and a kitten who hides or reacts with hostility when you try to touch him will be a difficult pet. Ask the litter owner about the kittens, and be cautious if she can't tell you about each individual. That might mean the kittens haven't been handled much.

More on: Pets

|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Cat http://life.familyeducation.com/cats/health/45708.html 2005 by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

happy holidays

‘Tis the season
for festive crafts,
recipes, & family
activities!

GO

highlights

Gift Ideas Sure to Please
Find the best gifts for girls, and everyone else on your list! Visit our Holiday Shopping Headquarters. Brought to you by Monster High.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Print this free holiday wish list for kids, so they can tell you what they really want this year! Brought to you by Monster High.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!