A guide to buying a kitten
The Top 7 Things You Should Know
- Make sure you are ready to commit to your new kitten.
- Factor food and equipment costs into your budget.
- Buy a cat bed, food bowl and some toys for you new pet.
- Choose a breed suited to your household.
- Shop around for a good cat insurance policy.
- Avoid litters with weak or unhealthy kittens.
- Make sure hazards are removed from the home.
Deciding to buy a kitten is the easy part – who wouldn't want a new, fluffy companion to care and play with? However, buying a kitten is still a serious commitment, and it is important to ensure you have the time, financial security and ability to care for a cat for its entire lifetime, which can be up to 18 years. Before bringing your new pet home, consider who will be its main carer, who will take care of the cat if you are away on holiday and consider how your new kitten will fit into your lifestyle.
Kittens may only be small, but they require a lot of equipment and other services which can soon add up. Food, veterinary bills, a good cat insurance policy and other equipment can be quite expensive and should be factored into a household budget - caring for a new kitten can cost approximately £400 in the first year of ownership.
Basic equipment, such as a cat bed, litter tray, toys and a collar can add up to £200, depending on what you decide to buy. Food, whether dry biscuits or tinned meat, will be an ongoing cost once you bring your new pet home and should be factored into your weekly shopping expenses. Likewise, the cat litter will be another addition to your grocery list each week.
Worming and flea treatments, required every three months, can be carried out at the vets, or done at home and can cost up to £30.
Kittens require a series of vaccinations for ailments such as cat flu, enteritis and feline leukaemia, which can cost up to £80 initially and then a further £50 per year in annual boosters.
In the event of illness or injury, a good cat insurance policy can help to ensure your pet receives all the care it needs and is inevitably cheaper than paying for each procedure as it happens. Pets deserve the best care and attention, so making a cat insurance comparison is an important consideration when purchasing a kitten to ensure you get the best deal on your policy.
Before buying your kitten, it's a good idea to do some research into the breed of cat you would like – different breeds can have different personality traits and it is best to choose a type that is suited to your household.
Bengal cats are ideal for families – they are playful, friendly and active, the perfect companion for young children. Meanwhile, Siamese cats are known for their intelligence, but require a lot of care. Ragdoll cats are loving and affectionate and are also worth considering as a new addition to any family.
As with most indoor domestic cats, they may become distressed if they are left alone for long periods of the day. The amount of time you spend in the house should be an important consideration before selecting which cat breed to get a kitten from.
When choosing your kitten, examine the litter to ensure they are all healthy and active. Kittens are ready to leave their mothers at around 12-16 weeks of age, and shouldn't be sold younger than this. This ensures that they are ready to cope with the distress of leaving their mother and have been equipped with essential life skills.
Bright eyes and clean fur are signs of a healthy kitten – sticky eyes, a runny nose or matted fur should be avoided. This could be symptoms of early cat flu or FIP.
If you are unsure of the health of your chosen kitten but still have your heart set on it, ask the breeder to keep the kitten for a further 10 days. That way should any illness develop further the breeder will be liable for the cost and you haven't started to become attached to it.
How friendly a kitten is can be determined by holding it for a few minutes.
Before bringing your new pet home, make sure its bed, food and water bowls and toys are within easy reach for your new arrival to make the transition into your home as stress-free as possible.
Kittens are naturally inquisitive, and so any potential dangers should be identified and removed. Electric cables a kitten may chew, or low furniture that a small animal could become trapped under should be moved and any small objects a kitten may eat or swallow – for example pot pourri – should be placed out of reach.
Further useful sources
- The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) offers sound advice on caring for pets.
- Pets4Homes lists litters of kittens and other animals for sale across the UK.
- The PDSA is the UK's biggest veterinary charity and offers advice on keeping pets healthy.