Your Personality and Your Household
Ideally you should think about how your adult cat will fit in
your life and understand not just what you want, but what you need in your new
cat. If you have a working household where the cat will be alone for
long periods, you need a cat who will be satisfied with lots of
solitude. But when you get home do you want her to be ready to play, or
would you prefer she join you on the sofa for some TIVO time?
If you are a one person house, do you want a dog-like
companion who will follow you around, or do you need your space.
If you have multiple human family members but no other pets,
you probably want an out-going cat who will love everybody
And if you have pets as well as people, you need a cat who
will go with the flow- not too pushy, but not too timid.
Kitten Personality Test
If you are choosing a kitten from a litter, or from a group of
kittens at a shelter, you want to look for three main indicators of
- How does the kitten interact with other kittens
- How does the kitten interact with inanimate objects (toys or otherwise)
- How does the kitten interact with you
When picking a kitten, being able to watch the group for a while without interfering is ideal. If you notice one kitten leading in exploration and play make a mental note. If you notice a kitten who lags behind, remember that too. If nothing seems to stand out, see if you can introduce a new toy.
Now watch the group with the new toy. Is the same leader you
noted before dominating the toy as well? Is the kitten who
suddenly perking up?
A cat who is not assertive in a group but is charged up by the toy might be a good fit for a working household. The ability to entertain oneself with toys and solitary games will keep a cat busy till you get home. On the other hand, the kitten who is focused on interactive play, and still determined to wrestle with another warm body even after the toy is introduced would be the choice for a busy household with lots of attention.
Now enter the fray yourself. Get down low and make
note of who approaches and how. Shyness does not mean lack of
affection, and the kitten who rushes up may not be the "friendliest",
just the most curious. If the same cat is leading with all of these
things you may have what some call an alpha personality.
probably won't be a cuddler, but may follow you around the house and
involve itself in everything. You may find many Siamese cats
this personality. This cat probably will prefer to be
the center of attention and not like being alone. He also might be more
inclined to wrestle than cuddle. Now how does that fit
If the second kitten who approaches gets up into your lap,
plays with your fingers, looks right into your face and settles in,
this is more of a beta
personality with social stimulation being the main
drive. Pick this kitten up, or best yet, go from sitting to standing
while holding the kitten in your arms. This can be a tough test for a
shelter kitty who may not have had a lot of human socialization, but
the more comfortable and unconcerned the kitten is with you holding it
and making a big move at the same time, the more likely it is that you
have a beta. This
kitten will work well in many situations, particularly a
busy house with multiple house mates. This kitty is not the
best choice for being left alone, and if you want to be left
alone neither one of you will be happy. This is probably a social
cuddler, treat accordingly.
Now there are two
things to look for if you know your cat will be alone for long periods,
an independent nature, and a healthy interest in toys. You are looking
for the kitten who might be off in a corner quietly exploring.
Your kitten should be the third or fourth to arrive when you
enter the area, maybe even the last, but should approach you
or happily engage with you when you approach and handle him, because
you will not have the time to work with a timid kitten. Your kitten
should be very engaged in all the toys, including, and most importantly,
the static toys. The rabbit fur mouse or catnip
banana that just lies there until your cat turns it into fun
time. If you come home from a long day and see three different toys in
three different areas of the house, you won't be so worried that your
cat is bored or lonely.
Finally, the kitten who is shy and not particularly interested
in any of the toys may be a nice fit for someone who wants a close
companion, but doesn't want to be pestered. As long as the kitten
being handled once you draw her out, a close relationship in a quiet
house where someone is home allot may be just the place for a gamma personality
to shine. Purring on your lap when you want her there, dozing in the
sun on the windowsill while you're doing your taxes. Peaceful.
Naturally there are no certainties here. Can a timid kitten
become an alpha adult cat? Of course, but why not try to outsmart
nature a little. These thoughts come after decades of watching entire
litters grow into adult cats. Allot of the adult personality is hidden
in that little kitten, and choosing
a kitten with these clues can
Picking a Kitten that is Properly Socialized
A properly socialized kitten between the ages of 7 and 12 weeks will be playful and relatively easy to handle. As they get a little older they may become a bit less kittenish around strangers so judge accordingly. But if any kitten trembles, hisses, hides, or bites and scratches with intent, don't take him home with you unless you really know what you're doing. Feeling sorry is not a good reason to get a feral or poorly socialized kitten, and is a big reason why cats are put up for adoption when they get older- they couldn't be changed. There are only a few short weeks while they are still with their mother in which a kitten can be fully socialized, after that the chances of having a really satisfying relationship go downhill fast. Always think about the long term. There are many lovely kittens that would make excellent pets available all the time, and so many are euthanized annually, why not save a friendly, properly socialized kitten and have a great time doing it too.
On the other hand, there is certainly room in many peoples hearts for a feral cat.
Choosing a Healthy Kitten
Most of this is just common sense. If the place is not clean
and well kept, the kittens may not be either.
A runny nose is never o.k.
and the younger the kitten, the more dangerous it could be. A simple
cold? Yes, very possible. Respiratory infection, distemper of
worse? Also possible. You don't know what it is, so don't take a
chance, and definately don't leave a breeder with a kitten and a bag of
I will say it again, a runny nose is not normal, and it is never o.k. Do not take the cat.
On the other hand, kittens often have what appears to be dull
fur. If everything else seems o.k. and the fur is not dirty, falling
out, or thinning in areas, the kitten is probably fine. Folks who tell
you to look for a shiney coat are thinking about adult cats, not
Naturally, the sooner you take him to the vet the better.
Cool Cat Facts...
Close to 2 million deserving cats and kittens are adopted from state and local animal shelters every single year in the U.S.A. Hopefully the new owners use a New kitten checklist to help things run smooth!