Buying a Kitten - general guidance & what to expect

Having decided that you want to own a pedigree kitten, here is a guide to help you through finding your kitten.

Where do I find a pedigree kitten?

Smoke & black exotic

Having researched and chosen what breed you like, the first port of call would be to contact the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) (tel: 01278 42757; or see the GCCF website), or The Exotic Cat Club (contact details on this website's home page).

The GCCF will be able to provide you with contact details of a suitable Breed Club that caters for your chosen breed listing Clubs on their website. With many Clubs now having their own websites, you may be able to link directly to the Club website and ask the Club Secretary or Kitten Registrar to provide you with information of breeders with kittens available.

Alternatively, you could purchase a cat related magazine from your newsagent and check breeders' adverts for kittens available. Many breeders also advertise in the local press.

What should I ask the breeder?

Cream exotic

Once you have found a breeder, give them a call to discuss the availability of kittens. They should be able to tell you what kittens are available, and the quality of those kittens.

Pedigree kittens normally fall into one of three categories as follows:

Show quality pedigree kittens: These are the most expensive to buy, because their breeders consider them outstanding examples of the breed, based on a standard, and anticipate that they will compete well at shows. If you wish to buy a show quality kitten, consider buying from a breeder with a proven track show record.

Breeder quality pedigree kittens: These are kittens that the breeder considers fail to meet the show standard in some small way, yet they possess enough good qualities, in addition to their pedigrees, to potentially produce outstanding offspring. Breeder quality kittens typically sell for slightly less than show quality kittens.

Pet quality pedigree kittens: These are the most affordable. They may be faultless, but on the other hand they may have some minor flaw that makes them unsuitable for showing or breeding. The "pet-quality" designation does NOT mean that the kitten is less healthy or less desirable to own.

If the breeder has pet quality kittens available, be sure to find out WHY the breeder considers them so, and ask the breeder to point out any faults in the kitten.

You will then need to know:

Black exotic kitten

The age of the kitten. Reputable breeders will not sell kittens below 13 weeks of age (in accordance with the GCCF guidelines).

The temperament of the kitten and its suitability to your lifestyle. This is a very important subject, as some pedigree cats will not adjust well to a life without companionship if you are out at work. If your circumstances mean that you are away from home a lot, it is often kinder to consider two kittens to keep each other company

The sex of the kitten. Both male and female kittens make excellent pets when neutered. Kittens may be neutered at around 4-6 months of age.

The toilet habits of the kitten. Do ask if the kitten is litter trained, and what type of litter it is used to, as sudden changes in procedure may upset your kitten's habits.

The grooming requirements of the kitten. Some pedigree cats like Persians require a lot of commitment from their owners. Ask the breeder how much grooming is required for the kitten.

Has the kitten been vaccinated? You should not purchase a kitten that has not yet received its vaccinations. When purchasing, you should be provided with a certificate of vaccination signed by a vet.

Will the kitten be insured? Many pet insurance companies now offer breeders a "free" six weeks insurance period. Moving to a new home is a very stressful period for a young kitten, and so insurance is always welcome to overcome any problems within that period.

Is the kitten registered? Most reputable breeders will register their kittens with the GCCF. This will indicate to you that the kitten's sire (father) and dam (mother) are registered cats. The GCCF has a Code of Ethics that lays guide guidelines for breeding kittens.

How much is the kitten? Prices of pet kittens vary from area to area and from breed to breed. If you are doubtful of the price quoted, ask around.

Can I see the kitten? Having questioned the breeder on these points is preferable to visit the breeder at home to view the kitten. It is helpful to view kittens in their home environment. When viewing the kittens, you should not be alarmed or upset if the breeder only allows handling the kitten on offer or asks you to disinfect your hands before touching the kitten; it is for the kitten's protection and is a perfectly acceptable and responsible practice. You should avoid visiting different breeders on the same day, as you could be responsible for cross-infection of kittens.

Black and white exotic kitten

Is he friendly? You should be able to see how the kitten has been reared to determine whether it is well socialised and friendly. Obtaining a well-socialised kitten is essential. Ask where the kitten has been reared. Is it outside in a cattery, or is it inside with constant attention from the breeder? Ask the breeder if it is possible to see the sire and dam of the kitten. Breeders often use male cat owned by another breeder so do not be suspicious if this is the case, and the male is not on the premises.

The mother should be available however, and the breeder should have no hesitation in showing you the mother. It is possible that having just raised a litter, she may not look in the best condition.

Does the kitten look healthy? You may also be able to see the whole litter. This will allow you to see how socialised and healthy they are. Always ask before handling any kitten. Is the kitten in good health, plump and in good condition? It should have bright, clear eyes and an alert personality. A healthy kitten should not sneeze or show mucous discharge from its eyes and nose. The ears should be clean and free of wax. The anus should be clean and not show any signs of diarrhoea. The coat should be clean and not show any signs of parasite infection. To inspect the coat for fleas, check in the coat for grains of black dirt, which is flea excrement. Play with the kitten and check how it reacts. Is it playful and relaxed? If it is fearful and unused to being handled, look elsewhere for a more socialised kitten.

Ask the breeder if their cats are free of Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Breeders should be able to give the assurance you need about these conditions. Has the kitten been wormed ? It is important that cats and especially young kittens are wormed on a regular basis.

Ask to see the kitten's pedigree. This is a record of its ancestors. It should show the names of the kitten's parents, grand parents and great grand patents.

Ask to see the vaccination certificate. The kitten should have received two vaccines, usually with a 2-3 week interval in between. The standard vaccination provides protection for Feline Panleucopaenia (Feline Infectious Enteritis), Feline viral rhinotracheitis and Feline calicivirus (Cat Flu). Some breeders may also vaccinate against feline leukaemia as well.

Ask your breeder to point out any faults on the kitten. For example, it may have an incorrect dental alignment, or maybe be a male with only one testicle. Ask the breeder the effect of these faults, and if veterinary intervention may be needed.

Ask the breeder about diet. It is important that you feed the kitten as recommended by the breeder, as sudden changes in diet can lead to upsets.

Do not feel rushed to make a decision. Most breeders will be happy for you to go away and think about the kitten. After all, it is a very long-term commitment for you to provide love and care for many years.

If the kitten is not yet old enough to leave home, the breeder may ask for a deposit to secure the sale of your chosen pet. Again this is quite acceptable, but ask for a written receipt for the deposit and if the deposit is refundable should you change your mind.

So now you have found your kitten, what to do when you complete the sale.

Cream tabby exotic kitten

When you collect your new kitten, you should make sure you have a suitable cat carrier. Do NOT carry the kitten unsecured and NEVER ever drive with a cat loose in the car. You should have all accessories ready at home - food supplies, feeding bowl, water bowl, bed, litter, litter tray, grooming equipment etc. You should get the following paperwork from the breeder:

  • Registration slip, if GCCF registered
  • Vaccination certificate.
  • Insurance certificate if the kitten is insured.
  • Diet sheet outlining the kitten's care and dietary requirements.
  • The breeder may ask you to sign an agreement to ensure that the kitten is neutered.
  • Receipt for payment in full.

The final reward is to enjoy your new treasure