It can be a very exciting time bringing a new family member into the home, however it can be a bit daunting and overwhelming. This page is to help you make the right decisions about breed of cat, choosing a breeder or rescue and the health care needs your new kitten will require throughout their lives.
What to Consider before buying a Kitten
There are many considerations to take into account before choosing a kitten to join your family, and it should not be a hasty decision! The first thing to consider is whether you want a pure breed or a general moggy. Some pure breeds do require special care (for example the Sphynx, as they are hairless and can get cold easily), so careful research should be done before choosing a pure-breed to decide whether they will fit in with your lifestyle. It is also worth considering if you want a short or a long haired cat, and if you choose the latter, to ensure that you have the time to groom them regularly as they can easily get matted which can cause sore skin lesions. Finally, consider whether you want to have a house cat or a cat that is allowed outside, as this may also influence the type of cat you wish to own.
Breeder or Rescue: Depending on whether you wish to own a pure breed or a moggy will most likely influence where you get your cat from. If you decide to buy from a breeder, have a chat with the breeder to see if the breed is suitable for you. Most breeders are very enthusiastic about their chosen breeds and are happy to speak at length about their specific needs. If you choose a rescue, please be aware that whilst it can be very rewarding, it can be very hard work as some cats have been mistreated and therefore can be distrustful of humans.
Cost: Owning a cat can be expensive, and there can be costs that prospective owners forget to take into consideration! Asides from feeding and vet costs, pet insurance is worth considering, aswel as cattery fees and anti-parasitic treatments.
Time: Whilst cats in general do not require as much time as other pets, if you choose a long haired breed then they will require daily grooming to maintain their coat. It is also worth noting that in general, house cats require more time with humans than cats that are allowed outside.
Buying a Kitten
If you decide to buy a kitten from a breeder, there are a few things to remember; firstly, you should be able to view the kitten with its mother and siblings, this will help reduce the chance of buying an illegally imported kitten or buying via a 3rd person. Secondly, the kittens should all be playful, well fed and have no discharge from their eyes or noses, and none of them should be sneezing or coughing. Lastly, you should ask the breeder plenty of questions, including have the kittens been wormed? Has the mother been vaccinated and wormed? Have the parents been health tested (if they are a pure breed)? Don't be offended if the breeder asks you plenty of questions, they will be wanting to ensure that their kittens are going to a good home!
Your kitten will require 2 vaccinations, 1 at 9 weeks old and a 2nd 3 weeks later at 12 weeks old. We routinely vaccinate against Panleucopaenia virus, Feline Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calici Virus and feline Leukaemia Virus. If your cat is restricted to your house, we may advise that they do not require the leukaemia virus vaccine, however this can be discussed with your vet. After the initial 2 vaccine course, they will require a yearly booster. This is also a good opportunity for your cat to have the once over with the vet, to check their teeth and monitor their weight, so that any early signs of disease may be discovered. It is also worth noting that some insurances are void if you do not regularly vaccinate your pet.
Worming and Flea Control
Worming is an important part of your cats health regime. We advise worming at least every 3 months, however if your kitten turns into a prolific hunter, or lives in a house with a pregnant woman, then monthly worming may be more appropriate. There are preparations that can be applied to the skin on the back of the neck or there are also tablets available.
We also advise using a flea control routinely, unless your cat lives solely in the house. There is a injection that lasts for 6 months against fleas, or there are spot-on applications that are applied to the back of that cats neck. There are some combined applications that protect against fleas and worms, however do not protect against ticks, and so may not be appropriate for you cat. It is best to have a discussion with your vet to assess what treatment your cat requires.
We advise neutering from 6 months of age in both Toms and Queens. In Toms, this can reduce the instance of spraying around the house and reduce fighting, which can lead to Cat Bite Abscesses and transmission of FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency virus) and FELV (Feline Leukaemia Virus). It also reduces wandering, meaning they are less likely to go missing! In Queens it eliminates the risk of unwanted kittens and eliminates the risk of pyometra.
Whilst there is always a risk with general anaesthetics in animals of any age, the risk is minimal.
Whilst we are not legally allowed to recommend a particular insurance company, we can give some pointers on what to look for when selecting a pet insurance:
Always choose a Lifetime Policy. This will mean that you will be covered for a condition for the whole of a pets life. A 12 month policy will only cover you for a condition for 12 months from the day that symptoms first appeared, after which you will have to cover the cost of further tests, medications and check ups. If they develop a life-long condition such as a Hyperactive Thyroid or a Kidney condition, then medication can easily reach £100-£150 per month!
We advise a yearly limit policy, with up to at least £4000 per year. Policies where you have a limit per condition can limit further treatments later on in life. Emergency out of hours and referrals can become very expensive very quickly!
Always check with the insurance if they will increase your premiums if you make a claim. There are companies that advertise that they will not increase premiums if you make a claim, and we suggest that you choose policies from these companies. It is worth bearing in mind that your premiums will increase as your pet ages.
You get what you pay for with insurance, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
We advise you to never change your pet insurance as any condition that the pet has ever been seen for, no matter how small and no matter whether you have claimed for it or not, may be considered a pre-existing condition and therefore may not be covered on any new policy that you take out. If you do decide to change insurance policy, we recommend that you contact your vets to request a history for your pet to submit to any prospective insurance companies so that you may know what may be excluded from your policy.
Whilst not yet a legal requirement in cats, microchipping is highly recommended. It allows us to reunite your cat with you if they go missing, and if they are unfortunately involved in an accident whilst out exploring, it allows the vets where they are undergoing treatment to get in touch and discuss treatment options etc.
Most clients ask us to implant the microchip at the same time as neutering, as it does involve a large needle, and many kittens will not sit still long enough to implant it!
There are also some great tips and information if you visit the DEFRA website and look for the "Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats"