Deciding to bring a cat into your life is a very exciting time. But before rushing out to bring your chosen cat home it is important to slow down, take your time and really do your homework.
There are several places you can obtain a cat from including cat breeders, animal shelters, pet shops, classified ads, friends or family. We will look at the pros and cons of each.
- Cat breeders
- Animal shelters,
- Pet shops
- Classified ads
- Friends or family
Don’t get hung up on colour, while we may have preferences, the interaction you have with a potential cat is of greater importance than what it looks like. When I decided to adopt my first cat in 1994 I had it in my mind that I wanted a classic tabby. The shelter had none, but they did point me in the direction of a black and white (tuxedo) kitten they had named ‘Tipsy’ because she had a white tip on her tail. This little kitten took an instant liking to me and was all over me from the second we met. This sweet little kitten came home with me and was renamed Eliot (after the poet), we spent nine wonderful years together before I lost her to cancer.
Some professional breeders have devoted many years to breeding their chosen breed of cat. Before I go further though I will add that not all breeders are created equal. Just because they are registered with the appropriate cat council doesn’t mean that some bad breeders don’t slip in too. So you must do your homework.
Some breeds of cat can be prone to specific medical issues. Once you have decided that you want a certain breed, it is a good idea to look up any possible health problems they are prone to and investigate whether these conditions can be tested for.
When choosing a cat from a registered breeder, you may hear the terms show or pet quality. Pet quality doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the cat, but it may not meet the breed standard 100%. Its eye colour may be slightly different or it has a kink in the tail. For the average pet owner, this is of no importance whatsoever. If you are looking for a cat to show, inform the breeder who will be able to advise on the best cat or kitten. You may have to pay more for a show quality cat.
Where possible, visit the breeder’s house and seeing the pets in their home environment. Are the conditions clean and sanitary? Do the animals look well cared for? You may not be a veterinarian but you can still do a basic check over the animal(s) to get a basic idea of their health.
What to watch for:
- Eyes: Should be bright and clear with no discharge.
- Nose: No discharge.
- Eyes: Should be clean, with no discharge.
- Coat: The coat should look and feel healthy. It should not feel or look dirty which could be a sign the mother isn’t looking after her baby properly. There should be no sign of parasites such as fleas.
- Belly: Should be plump but not too thin or round. A pot belly can be an indication of worms.
- Personality: This is important. Is the animal confident and friendly? Does it interact well with its siblings and you?
Questions to ask the breeder:
- Does the animal come with a health guarantee?
- What’s included? Desexing, microchipping, vaccinations etc?
- Do you offer support after I’ve taken the animal home?
- Have the appropriate medical tests been done? Hip scores etc?
A great option to consider is the shelter. Every year tens of thousands of animals find their way to shelters and sadly many of them are euthanised because there just aren’t enough homes for them. Both purebred mixed breed animals are at shelters although the purebreds do tend to find homes quicker.
This is also a cost-effective way to adopt an animal. Cats and dogs will leave desexed (spayed/neutered), microchipped, vaccinated, de-wormed and flea treated.
Again, it is important to check the animal over for signs of ill health.
Many people assume that a pet shop is a natural place to buy a pet from. This may have been so in the past but it’s generally not accepted as a great place to obtain a pet. You won’t know the history of the parents, generally, won’t get follow up support & can often pay considerably more than you would have had you gone to a breeder or shelter.
Either online or in your local paper. Many people assume that a pet who is free to good home is the cheapest option. This is not always the case, especially with younger animals. Remember you may not be paying for the animal but you will have to pay to have it desexed, microchipped, vaccinated etc. This can often end up costing considerably more than had you purchased the animal from a breeder or shelter.
Many fantastic sites allow people to advertise pets for sale or rehome. This can be a great place to start. Many shelters advertise pets who are up for adoption and if buying a purebred, you can often visit the breeder’s website have a look at their animals. Be aware, though, a fancy website doesn’t say anything about the quality of the breeder. Many people have fallen into that trap. It is still vital that you visit the home and assess the environment and the animals yourself.
Check with your local veterinary surgery as they often take in homeless or abandoned cats who are looking for a new home. Even if they don’t have cats available, they often have bulletin boards where people can list animals looking for a home.