There are about 40 breeds of cats, and you’ve done your homework and found the one with just the right personality and energy level for you. Now, how do you find a good breeder so you can be sure your new kitten is healthy and well adjusted? We asked Allene Tartaglia, executive director of the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA.org), the world’s largest registry of pedigree cats, for some tips.
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Q: There are ads for kittens in the newspaper, on the Internet, and, of course, there are those adorable kittens in the pet stores. Where should I buy my new kitten?
A: Ideally you want to buy your new pedigree kitten directly from a breeder. Of course, that could be through the Internet, through the newspaper, or by meeting breeders at cat shows. We generally steer people away from pet stores because there’s not a lot of human interaction in pet stores. You don’t meet the breeder, you don’t know where the kitten came from, how long it’s been there, anything like that.
Q: How old should my kitten be when I bring him home?
A: Most breeders will keep kittens until they’re 4 months old. That’s when they’re more socialized. Kittens socialize slower than puppies and they need that time with their mother and their littermates. They also have most of their shots by then. Some breeds do mature a bit faster than others, but generally it’s between 3-4 months.
Q: Do purebred cats have more health problems than mixed-breed cats?
A: Not really. In fact, breeders know if there are any health problems in their line and then they breed to avoid that. Breeders will get DNA testing of the parents and the kittens. It’s kind of a tradeoff. A kitten you get from a shelter may pick up an upper respiratory illness from all the other cats there. But if you’re looking at the genetic end of it, the gene pool is much larger with what we call random bred cats.