Cats are hugely popular pets, and millions are kept in homes worldwide. They come in different colours, hair-coats, shapes and sizes and definitely different personalities! Buying a new kitten is an exciting time, but it can be a minefield if you’re unsure where to look, what exactly you want – or how much you should be paying!
Before you start googling for kittens in your area, it’s worth a pause to have a think about what kind of cat will fit into your home environment (and budget!): pedigree or moggie, kitten or older cat, short haired or long?
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What’s the difference between a ‘moggie’ and a ‘pedigree’?
‘Moggies’ are those cats which have been bred without any human intervention or selection, meaning they have a thorough mixing of genes! They have no specific characteristics and vary in size and colour.
Pedigree, or purebred, cats have been bred specifically to conform to a certain physical ‘type’ and can have specific behavioural traits as well. These cats are then bred with other similar cats until a ‘breed’ is formed. Examples of pedigree cat breeds are Siamese, Burmese, Maine Coon and Birman but there are many more. Some health conditions can be worsened, and behavioural traits can be strengthened, in these breeds as similar genes are passed on through many generations.
What does ‘DSH’ and ‘DLH’ mean – are they breeds?
DSH and DLH stand for ‘domestic short hair’ and ‘domestic long hair’ respectively. They are not breeds, but types; just a way to differentiate long-haired moggies from short-haired! It is a description rather than a breed, and the ‘domestic’ part of it gives away that these are not purebred cats.
Where can I buy a cat from?
There are many options now as to where to find a feline friend, from rescue shelters to pedigree breeders. Like all things, some are better than others! Here are some things to look out for:
If you have decided that a pedigree kitten is right for you, it is worth finding a reputable breeder. The term ‘breeder’ is not a protected title, so anyone whose cat produces kittens can call themselves this! There are definitely many excellent breeders who are invested in optimum health and welfare for their animals. However, there are also some who sadly don’t invest as much time and knowledge as they need to.
Breeders should ideally only have a small number of breeding queens (female cats), and the kittens should be well handled and socialised. Good breeders will be knowledgeable about cat health and preventative care. Breeding environments which are dirty, crowded with multiple cats and kittens are more likely to contain disease. They may also produce kittens with more behavioural issues. Look for a breeding environment that is like a home; clean and relaxed with a healthy and confident mother cat and active, growing kittens.
With large numbers of cats and kittens awaiting homes, adopting a cat or kitten from a rescue shelter can be a hugely rewarding and worthwhile thing to do. There are some large, well-known organisations such as Cats Protection (CP) and RSPCA, and also many small, local shelters.
Rescue organisations vary in regard to what animals they have available to home, their fees/donation, their criteria for adoptive households and their facilities. Some are low on funds and space but high in cat numbers so be vigilant. Just as with breeders, cramped conditions lead to the spread of disease and stressed cats.
It’s worth spending some time and research finding an organisation that aligns with your values and has the right cat for your household. The best rescues are dedicated to ensuring the best possible match for their cats, so be patient if it all feels like it takes some time.
Advertisements, the internet and dealers
Some kittens advertised are genuinely born of accidental litters to owners really wanting them to find a good home. But there are also plenty of unscrupulous people out to make money. Be careful! Paying lots of money for a kitten when you can’t see the parent, siblings or home environment can lead to heartbreak when the kitten is ill, ravaged by parasites or so fearful it is un-handleable.
Friends, family & neighbours
Due to the propensity of cats to get into mischief, accidental litters are common! If you’re looking for a moggie, see if anyone local to you knows of anyone with a litter. The same rules apply about making sure the kittens come from a clean non-crowded home, and an opportunity to see the kittens in their home environment is recommended, but a kitten born to a healthy, happy family pet can be an easy, and inexpensive way to gain a new family pet.
How much do cats cost?
This varies a lot! People with accidental litters from their family cat may well be looking for good homes rather than any money, most rescues will ask for a variable donation, and pedigree breeding queens will have a much larger price tag! A pedigree kitten from a reputable, knowledgeable breeder will set you back hundreds of pounds, but a moggie should not.
A common-sense approach is required: an advert on the internet for a bunch of kittens to be exchanged in a carpark with no information regarding their first few weeks of life should be avoided – and are certainly not worth paying out huge sums for! Unfortunately, paying money for kittens in this type of scenario only allows the practice to keep going.
It is worth remembering that regardless of initial outlay, all cats – from moggies to purebred – will need regular health checks and preventative treatment such as vaccinations and anti-parasitics.
It’s an exciting time!
Getting a kitten is a wonderful experience for many people. Once you have decided that a kitten is a suitable pet for you, do some research into whether you want a specific breed or are happy with a splendid moggie mix. Once you know what you are looking for, think about whether a local rescue shelter might have what you are looking for, or if there are any litters available nearby. Always try to get a kitten that you can see that its home environment has been clean, stress-free and as homely as possible.
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