While it can be tempting to adopt on the spot, it’s wise to do some research before you bring a cute kitten home, particularly if you consider the fact that your feline roommate could live with you for over 15 years. Questions to ask yourself: Can you really handle the responsibility of a kitten? Is now the right time? If so, what kind of cat would suit your lifestyle?
Consider Your Kitten’s Age
While kittens are usually weaned before eight weeks of age, most experts agree that they should stay with their mother and/or littermates until they are 12 weeks old, allowing for optimal social development. If a kitten has been taken away from her mother before the weaning process is complete, she may develop troubling behaviors, such as suckling on fingers and other objects.
Check for a Good Disposition
No matter how much you want the kitty with the tiger stripes, don’t choose a kitten based on looks alone. Instead, watch how the kittens within a litter play and interact, so you can get a glimpse at each kitty’s personality. Most kittens are sleepy following a feeding, so pick a time to visit when they are active.
Look for a Playful, Confident Kitten if You Have Young Children
Timid kittens may not feel comfortable in homes with small kids, who may tug at tails and ears when they play with pets.
Get Down on All Fours
Once you're at eye level, see how the kitten reacts to your up-close presence. Well-socialized kittens will be comfortable and unafraid of you.
Interact With Your Kitten of Choice
Try to entice your prospective kitten with a toy or some other appealing object to see how well she expresses interest in play.
Pick Up Your Kitten
After playtime, try to hold the kitten. If she squirms a little, that's perfectly normal, but she shouldn’t bite or hiss.
Inquire About Your Kitten's Upbringing
The way a kitten is raised can have a huge impact on her personality, so learn everything you can about her history. Case in point: Kittens who aren’t introduced to humans by seven weeks of age can sometimes have trouble bonding with them.
Have Your Vet Check Your Kitten’s Health
To avoid any surprises, it’s always best to have a vet review your kitten’s health before you adopt. Many kittens have fleas, ear mites or intestinal worms. While this may not prevent you from adopting, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into and what it may cost.
Quarantine Your Kitten
It’s important to keep your kitten separated from other household pets for a quarantine period. This way, you can be sure that she’s free of any infectious diseases, such as feline leukemia, before you introduce your new kitten to the rest of your pets.
Consider Two Kittens
Many experts recommend adopting a pair of kittens for a variety of reasons. For one, the kittens will continue to socialize and learn from one another. Also, it’s important to remember that adult cats can be territorial, so it may be easier to adopt two kittens, rather than introduce a new one down the road.
A kitten can be a wonderful addition to your life, but you need to make sure that you’ve done everything you can to ensure that you and the kitten make a good fit. For more advice on picking the ideal kitten, check out How to Select the Right Kitten for You or go to our Cat Breed section of the site.