Providing moggy kittens have had a good start in life, they tend generally to be quite healthy and hardy. If you’ve decided on a pedigree, find out as much as you can about the breed that appeals, and ask your vet if there are any relevant common health problems you should ask the breeder about.
When you visit, pedigree kittens should be seen with mum and all should look clean, happy, healthy and alert. Ask to pick one up so that you can do a health check. If the kitten seems very nervous of being handled this could mean he’s not used to people and may not have been fully socialised, meaning he may find it difficult to settle into a new home.
When you visit your kitten at the breeder's house or rescue centre, cup one hand under his chest and support the rear end with your other hand. Bring him close to your body and gently check the areas below. Even subtle changes in your kitten’s behaviour may indicate a problem, so make your own regular checks, and continue to do so between annual check-ups and booster vaccinations as he grows up.
The signs of a healthy kitten
- Ears should be clean and free of waxy discharge, which could indicate ear mites
- Eyes should be clear, free from discharge, soreness or reddened eyelids. There should be no sign of the grey-coloured third eyelid as this could indicate illness
- Be wary if the kitten sneezes frequently or if his nose is runny
- Your kitten's mouth should be a healthy pink
- Look for any scabby patches on this skin as this could indicate ringworm
- Your kitten's bottom should be clean with no evidence of diarrhoea or worms.
- His coat should be clean and not greasy. There should be no dandruff or black specks, which could indicate he has fleas
- Your kitten should have a full set of deciduous (baby) teeth. Check that he has a straight bite and has neither an overshot nor undershot jaw as this could impede the way he eats and develops
- Ask the breeder/rescue centre what health checks have been made to be sure they’re free from inherited diseases or other avoidable diseases
- A kitten should be bright and alert, playful and confident. This is a sign that he has been well socialized and used to being around people
- Breeders should keep their kittens until they are around 13 weeks old, by which time they will have had their vaccinations
- Pedigree kittens should always be seen with mum.
Get your kitten checked out
An initial health check with your vet is also a good idea to put your mind at rest. He or she will listen to your kitten’s heart and lungs, and also advise you on diet, vaccinations, flea and worm treatments, plus when you should get your kitten neutered. Moving to a new home is a very stressful period for a young kitten, and so insurance is a good idea to help with any problems that may arise.
When looking for a cat-friendly vet:
- Enquire about the practice’s fees, services and facilities
- Make yourself familiar with opening times and emergency procedures
- Ensure you’re happy about the vet's location in terms of distance to travel
- Look for a practice accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. (This means they will have volunteered to undergo rigorous inspections)
- Ask other cat owners for their recommendations.