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Choosing A Kitten From A Litter

So now you have decided that you are going to get a kitten you need to know what to look out for when picking out of a litter.

A litter of six black and white kittens
A litter of six black and white kittens


The best place to start is by meeting the parents. Many breeders will have both the mother and father available to view but all should allow you to at least meet the mother. If the breeder makes an excuse as to why you can’t view the mother then this should ring alarm bells and it is probably best to walk away.

A British Shorthair Cat with its beautiful little kitten
A British Shorthair Cat with its beautiful little kitten

By meeting the parents you can at least get an idea of what your kitten may grow up like. If a mother cat fears or dislikes humans it is likely that she will pass these feelings on within the early stages of a kitten’s life.


Kittens learn a lot in the first few weeks of their life. In their first weeks of life the mother cat will keep her kittens clean and help teach them the proper way to groom. Kittens who leave their mother and littermates too early will be more distressed when taken to a new home. Younger kittens are also less likely to have learnt what behaviour is normal or acceptable. The optimal age for a kitten to leave its mother and littermates is a heated topic but as long as the kitten is at least 8 weeks old but preferably more than 9 weeks then the transition to a new home should be happy.

A tabby cat kitten old enough and mature enough to go to a new home
A tabby cat kitten old enough and mature enough to go to a new home


Choosing a kitten with a good personality is really important. The most sensible choice is to pick the kitten who is interested in meeting you. Also look out for a kitten who is confident and playful with its littermates.

Things to avoid are kittens who seem overly aggressive to their littermates or seem overly shy and timid.

Early Socialisation

The best kitten to get is the kitten that has already met lots of different people and animals before you take it home. If you have small children or dogs then look for breeders whose kittens have been handled by small children and/or exposed to dogs. This means that when your new kitten meets your children or dog (if you have them) it won’t come as a terrifying surprise.

A tabby cat rubbing its face on its owners hand
A tabby cat rubbing its face on its owners hand


Regardless of breeder it is very important to take your new kitten to a vet as soon as possible. However there are some quick checks you can do yourself to make sure a kitten is healthy before you buy it.

  • Eyes - Make sure that the kitten's eyes are clear, bright and have no discharge. They should also be fully open. You should also make sure that the kitten can follow your hand with its eyes.

  • Nose - The kitten’s nose should be nice and clean with no discharge, dryness or blood.

  • Ears - Clean ears are a sign of a healthy kitten. Check for rashes or obvious itching.

  • Mouth - A healthy kitten should have salmon pink gums, with white and nicely organised teeth.

  • Bottom - Check the kitten’s bottom for matted fur or any evidence of soreness.

  • Body - Look for a symmetrical body shape without obvious bloating. Lumps, bumps or scabs are a sign of an unwell kitten.

  • Feeding - If possible visit the kitten during its dinner time so that you can check it has a good appetite. If its not possible, ask the breeder what its feeding habits are.

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