When all options are cute and cuddly, how do you choose? This is the “problem” facing everyone who decides to adopt a kitten.
Choosing the perfect kitten sometimes requires a little more…elegance than choosing a puppy, if only because puppies can sometimes take themselves out of your running due to inherent qualities. If you know a puppy is likely to grow to be humungous or require hours of daily exercise and you’re looking for a small couch potato, your choice might be made for you.
While there are large breed cats like the Maine coon, generally you know what you’re getting with a kitten when it comes to size, weight, hair and exercise needs. But there are other details to consider and questions to ask before deciding which fluffball to bring home.
Even young kittens have a past, so ask the adoption agency, shelter personnel or current owner what they know about your candidate’s origin story. A lot can happen in those first 8 to 12 weeks. Have they been with their mother since birth? Were they born in the wild or a controlled environment? Have they been around people regularly, or have they been somewhat isolated? What about their littermates? So much that happens in a kitten’s early life can impact how they evolve mentally and emotionally, although nothing is set in stone, either. Just learn as much as you can about where the kitten has been, so you can better control where they are going.
As with any adoption, you’ll need as full a medical history as the current caregiver can provide. Be on the lookout for runny noses, crusty eyes, obvious sore or dirty spots under the tail that can indicate diarrhea, and dirty or infected ears. None of these issues make a kitten unadoptable, but they can also indicate that there’s something amiss with the kitten’s long-term health that requires deeper investigation.
Check your kitten’s teeth and gums as well. Anything other than white teeth and pink gums can indicate a health issue you might not be ready to handle.
If you’re struggling to choose between candidates, these issues could tip the scales one way or the other.
No matter what, after choosing your kitten, schedule a visit with your veterinarian within the first week of bringing him or her home. Just to be sure!
Though a cat’s breed is not talked about as often as it is with dogs, there are 45 recognized pedigreed breeds, according to The Cat Fanciers Association, each with its own set of traits, from hair length to personality style. Some breeds, like the fluffy Persian, require more coat grooming than others. Some breeds are lazy and quiet; others are active and vocal.
However, your standard domestic cat is so far removed from any “official” breed that it might be hard to tell by looking what their lineage might be. Even “common” kittens that resemble, say, a ragdoll cat, might not have any connection to the breed outside of some physical appearance. The best way to tell how a kitten might turn out as an adult either physically, mentally, or emotionally, is to get a look at their parents.
When you’re adopting any pet, be it a puppy, kitten or baby alligator, the thing that matters most when making your choice is the personal connection you make. So many people, when adopting a pet, say, “I knew it the second I laid eyes on them.” But verify that gut reaction by getting down and snuggling, playing and getting to know the kittens in close quarters. When you know, you know.
And often, that’s all you or they need.
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