Buy your kitty with confidence and prepare your home by thoroughly reading our guideline. Bringing home a new Kitty or Cat is both thrilling and, sometimes, overwhelming. Below we offer some tips and ideas to make adding a new kitty to your home more easy and smooth. Additionally, we have included some common questions new cat owners often have. Before bringing home a new cat it is important to get as much information as possible, ask questions and prepare your heart and your home for a new family member.
Do Your Due Diligence When Looking for a Cat
When adopting a new cat it is important to research who you are getting your new cat from. Whether through adoption or through a breeder, it is important to look into them, get references, check out the facilities and conditions in which they keep their cats and ensure your new cat is coming from a trusted source. Additionally, be sure to have a contract in place that covers all contingencies and protects your purchase or adoption. Any reputable adoption center or breeder should provide a contract when getting a new cat.
If purchasing a kitten from a breeder obtain the kitten's health certificate and call the vet listed. Most congenital defects may be detected early on. It's very important to have your vet perform a thorough examination. Ideally, have the kitten examined by your vet prior to purchase. Though some breeders may only allow this after the purchase. Don't forgo the vet examination and health certificate. The breeder's contract should contain a refund policy regarding genetic defects with a fair deadline to report your vet's diagnosis. It's important to do your research on the requirement. For example, the cost of a required autopsy may be more expensive than the cost of the kitten. You will want to make sure the requirement to obtain a refund for returning the kitten is fair.
Make sure the kitten is the appropriate age to be separated from the mother. For most states, the minimum age for a kitten to be sold or separated from their mother is 8 weeks old. Some states will allow separations at 7 weeks of age. Check with your local laws to get the most recent updates. It is safest to only accept a kitten after their initial vaccination which is likely finished by 12 weeks of age.
Research the Pet Purchase Protection Laws in your state before purchasing a cat. If purchasing from a breeder, they should know the laws well. If they don't appear to know the laws or their contract does not follow the laws then you may not want to follow through with the purchase.
Be sure that you can verify the identity of the breeder. Do not conduct the transaction solely over email. Talk on the phone with the breeder so that you can further verify breeder identity. Should the breeder claim they are unable to speak via telephone it is best to not go forward with the purchase or adoption of a cat from this breeder.
Use verified and trusted sources to make payment so that you have recourse should you encounter fraud or problems with the purchase or adoption of a cat. Never make a payment through Western Union or Money Gram as your funds will not be protected should there be a problem. PayPal's 'friends and family' payment option is NOT a secure method of payment.
Ask to see where the cat has been kept. If a cat appears to not be well cared for, or the conditions seem poor, it is best not to go forward with the purchase or adoption of a cat.
Ask if the breeder is associated with any breeding organizations or has any affiliations. Depending on their answer, ask why they do or why they do not.
Ask for more pictures of the cat with a specific item (Ask them to write your name on a piece of paper and place it next to the cat. Beware that some scams use stolen pictures of cats even though they do not actually have a cat in their possession to sell. If a seller is unable to provide additional pictures with the specific items requested, it is best not to go forward with the purchase or adoption of a cat from this breeder.
Not all online breeders are scams and, in fact, many very reputable breeders have websites and will conduct transactions online. By doing your due diligence you protect yourself from a scam and ensure you are getting the cat that you want from a safe and upstanding breeder.
Common Questions to Ask When Getting a New Cat
If, for any reason, I am unable to keep the cat, what is your return policy?
May I see the cat's health certificate from your vet?
What is the phone number of your vet?
Do you have vaccination documentation from your vet? Most vaccinations should be given by 16 weeks of age.
Are you currently treating your cat(s) for fleas or infections such as ringworm?
Do you have a contract with a return policy and a health guarantee?
Is the cat litter box trained? Kittens should be trained by their 5th week.
Can you describe the lineage of this cat's parents.
What are common personality traits of this cat?
What kind of lifestyle and habitat does this kind of cat prefer?
What are the common health problems associated with this breed of cat?
What kind of grooming does this cat breed require and how often?
At what age can a new kitten come home with me?
Do you have any references from people who have previously adopted cats?
Are you affiliated with any breeder associations?
Has the cat been spayed or neutered already?
What is the average lifespan of this breed of cat?
What kind of litter box and litter would be best for this cat?
What kind of toys do you recommend for this bred of cat? (Some cats are more active and playful than others, requiring extra stimulation)
Should I get a scratching post for my cat?
Should I get cat health insurance?
Finding a Healthy Kitten
It's best to meet the cat before making the purchase. If for some reason you aren't able to, make sure you have a return policy stated in the contract that allows you to return the cat for a full refund if the cat appears mistreated and use a secure method of payment that will ensure you get your money back. Reputable breeders inoculate at vet recommended times and should have proof. They may take their cats to a vet (which is ideal) or they may inoculate and worm on their own. Make sure to get proof of this from the breeder and also inspect the coat and skin before purchase. Also, report bad breeders when you feel the cat is improperly cared for. Below are traits of a healthy cat.
Good muscle tone
Clean coat and well groomed
No discharge from the eyes
No sneezing or runny nose
The ears are clean and pink inside
No bald patches or flaky skin
Warms up to you and plays with you at first meeting
What to Expect in a Breeder Contract
A full refund upon returning a cat with a congenital defect as diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian within a reasonable timeframe.
A health guarantee, which diseases are covered and vaccination schedule.
A description of the kitten you have agreed to purchase and the date of birth.
The date purchased and price.
An agreement to neuter/spay the cat or conditional breeding rights (which will likely cost more).
When registration forms will be sent.
Registration names and numbers of the parents.
The breeder's name, address, phone number as well as yours.
Your signatures and a copy of the contract.
Some breeders, "Hobby breeders", are not affiliated with a cat registry (e.g.; TICA, ACFA) and do not have registration papers for their cats. They sell kittens that are likely less expensive but should still explain the lineage of the parents ( to reduce genetic defects ) and provide all other items mentioned in the contract list above. Be cautious of the infamous "Backyard Breeder" that does not pride themselves in quality lineage and care for their cats. Don't accept anything less than a healthy kitten by a responsible breeder. Report those you feel don't provide the standards of care for the kittens they sell.
How to Prepare Your Home For the Arrival of New Cat
Discuss the arrival of a new cat with all family members, including children, so that everyone is prepared and on the same page.
Purchase a litter box and litter so that you can teach your cat to use it right away.
Purchase some interesting cat toys and possibly a scratching post for your new cat to entertain it and keep it from scratching your furniture.
Purchase food and water bowls for your new cat.
Get a collar for your new cat.
Find a veterinarian to care for the health and wellbeing of your new cat.
Ask your vet if you should treat your new cat immediately with a medicated shampoo to reduce the chance of bringing infections and fleas into your home.
Consider your lifestyle and begin to make adjustments to your schedule to accommodate your new cat, or make arrangements so that your cat is well cared for.