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Choosing a Healthy Kitten

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Personality and Disposition

The most important consideration in selecting a kitten for a family pet is personality and disposition. Kittens who remain with their littermates and mothers until 10 to 12 weeks learn to relate well to other cats and to people by watching and taking cues from their mothers and from one another. Once a pattern of socialization has been established, it is not easy to change.

Heredity also influences a kitten’s disposition. For these reasons, you can tell a lot about a kitten’s confidence and personality by observing his mother and how well she interacts with strangers.

Well-socialized kittens appear eager for attention. When picked up, they relax. When stroked, they purr. See if the kitten follows you around. Dangle a piece of ribbon or throw a wad of crumpled paper and see if he wants to play. Clap your hands or stamp your feet. After a brief startle, does the kitten recover?

A tense, withdrawn kitten who interacts poorly with littermates and shies away when picked up may be timid or in poor health. A shy kitten is unlikely to make a good family pet if you have children, but may be fine for adults who are willing to be patient at first.

Because good health and good disposition often go hand in hand, it is perhaps wise in making the final selection to pick the sturdy individual with bright eyes who is full of life and bursting with self-confidence.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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