When considering acquiring a cat the first decision to make is whether to give a rescue cat a home or to take on a kitten. There are huge numbers of lovely cats of all ages sitting around in local rescue centres waiting to find a loving home. Cats are extremely adaptable animals and even adults will normally settle into new homes very quickly whatever their background. In fact for a lot of people it can be easier to take on an adult cat rather than a kitten which will require a lot more care and attention for the first 6 – 9 months. In addition most rescue cats have already been neutered, and in many cases will have been checked over by a vet, vaccinated, treated for fleas and wormed.
However if you already have a cat it may accept a kitten quicker than an adult cat. If you get 2 kittens together, they will play with each other furiously giving you a bit more peace, although the carpets, curtains and upholstery can suffer as they entertain themselves.
The next decision is whether to go for a pedigree cat or a moggy. Moggies are often less highly strung than pedigree cats and tend to live longer with fewer health problems. Oriental pedigrees are well known for being very vocal and often demand a lot of attention. Long-haired breeds such as Persians and Birmans are quieter but their coats need an awful lot of work. Persians particularly need a good brush daily to prevent mats. There can also be the problems of furballs which most long-haired cats (and your carpets!) will suffer from.
The best place to obtain a kitten from is a reputable registered breeder or a good family home where the kittens have been fed appropriately, wormed and treated for fleas. The mother should be fully vaccinated and ideally over a year old. It is important that the mother is friendly and relaxed as nervous or aggressive mums tend to produce nervous kittens. The kittens should have been handled regularly from 3 weeks old so they are comfortable with meeting strangers. Kittens should be at least 8 weeks old and preferably 9 weeks old before they are taken away from their mum. Pedigree cat breeders should not release kittens until they are 12 weeks old.
Generally it is best to avoid buying kittens from Pet Shops. They may have been taken away at a very early age, poorly socialized, not properly wormed and fed unsuitable diets. This can lead to tummy upsets, behavioural problems and even growth deformities. Although it is very easy to feel sorry for a cute kitten in a window, it is not the best start for any animal and buying a kitten in this way will just encourage the trade.