Welcome back Dr. Hemler!
Kirkwood, MO

Selecting a Kitten

One of your family’s most significant decisions will be whether to buy a kitten.

cute kitten

Selecting a Kitten

When you are looking for a New Kitten…We’re on Your Side

The purchase of a kitten is one of the most important decisions your family will make. There are a number of factors that should be weighed before making a final decision on your new family member. The veterinarians at Kirkwood Animal Hospital will be your advocates. We feel that we have a professional obligation to inform you, “the potential owner,” of as many of the risks and complications that we can find in the new puppy. We do not have a business relationship with breeders and, therefore, can maintain complete objectivity. When you depart to visit a new kitten, remember these important points:

Pure or Mixed breed?
Purebred pets have specific breed characteristics in attitude and personalities as well as looks and colors. Be sure and do your homework. However, be warned breeders and breed enthusiasts write the books and articles you might find on your potential pet. In most cases, you will find that your potential new pet will be perfect, and you may feel that they can clean the house and wash the dishes to boot! They also may have health problems that are associated with their breed. We can help you to understand these.

Mixed breed pets or crossbred pets have hybrid vigor. The crossing of two or more purebreds can lead to pets that are healthier than either of their parents. There are thousands of great mixes or cross-bred pets that need homes and make great pets for life. However, you may not be able to count on the good as well as the bad traits coming through on the cross.

Would I live here?
If the kennel you are visiting is dirty, smells bad, or appears disorganized, do not purchase the pet! A dirty environment equals a dirty pet, which can lead to parasite problems, viral infections, and a sick kitten.

If you think breeding is in your pet’s future, beware.

Does the breeder have the litter registration papers?

Is it registered by a known association, e.g., CFA – Cat Fanciers Association?

Many breeders are now controlling the breeding rights of the kittens they sell. In other words, they require that you sign papers stating that you will not breed the kitten at all or without permission. If you think breeding is in the future, beware.

Payment method?
Will they take a check for payment? Never pay cash! When you write a check for payment you have the option to stop payment on the check. If there is a major health problem with the kitten, you have recourse.

What age is best to bring a new pet home?
It is always best to get a new pet between the ages of 6 to 9 weeks. If properly raised, the kitten should be weaned and eating on its own. At age 6-12 weeks, kittens are forming social bonds that will last their lifetime. If they are with people, they will bond with people. If they are raised in a kennel with other dogs and cats, they will always be closer to their own species.

Have they been socialized?
It is best to purchase pets that have been handled a lot by people, especially children.

When should I bring my new kitten to the vet?
We recommend your new pet be examined by a veterinarian within 24-48 hours.

Who should I have performed the exam?
Many breeders have a business relationship with a vet. The breeder usually receives services at a much-reduced cost from the veterinarian in exchange for the referral of the kitten to the Veterinary clinic. You will have to decide if this type of relationship can allow these hospitals to be objective in their assessment of the pet. Are they likely to be an advocate of the breeder? We recommend that you insist on an exam by one of our veterinarians at Kirkwood Animal Hospital.

What about genetic diseases?
The pet you buy will hopefully be a valued member of your family for many years to come. It is worth spending some time investigating what diseases are common to that breed or hybrid pet. These diseases can affect your pet’s quality as well as the length of life. Becoming familiar with these conditions prior to making your purchase can save you a lot of heartbreak in the years to come.

An excellent summary of some of the most common and serious of these diseases is available at the link below:
Genetic and Hereditary Conditions of Pedigree and Domestic Cats, by Dr. Diane Addie

Call before you leap:
Call Kirkwood Animal Hospital before you go. Our staff may have already encountered a kitten from the litter you will be visiting. We also have information on specific breeds of cats and how that breed may fit in with your family.

A new pet will become a valued member of your family for the next ten to fifteen years. It is important to do your homework and invest the time and effort to get the best pet you can for your family. Remember to be discerning. We have found that most kittens are purchased on impulse, and the new owners are attached by the time they leave the breeders. Over the last 35 years, we have had to send back many kittens – buyer beware. Try to be objective until your pet is examined by one of our doctors.

Good luck. We are always here to help you,
The Staff of Kirkwood Animal Hospital