So you’ve decided to get a kitten or cat.  Congratulations!  All cats and kittens are beautiful by their very nature, but it’s very important to know how to choose the right feline for YOU.

In the most ideal situation, kittens stay with their mother and littermates until they are 3-4 months old.  Kittens are not born naturally sociable so it’s important that they are socialized in their early months by being lovingly handled and getting used to normal household sounds like a television, vacuum cleaners or little children.

In my experience as a foster mom for kittens, I have fostered litters where kittens have hissed at me and been extremely antisocial.  Wrapping them in baby blankets and holding them close to me for extended periods of time has transformed them into sweet, affectionate babies who purr when held.  This socialization process gets them ready to be ideal family pets.

When you visit a shelter or a foster’s house, observe your surroundings.  It should look and smell clean.  If the mother cat is available, go meet her.  She has great influence on her babies, if she is sweet and loving, that’s a good indication the kittens will be, too.

When you meet the kittens, it’s a good idea to just observe them at first.  Kittens who are naturally attracted to people are the best pets. Happy, socialized kittens will enjoy being handled.  Kittens who get panicky and try to jump out of your hands shouldn’t be chosen.  Even though that cute little kitten cowering in the corner catches your attention, skip it.  I hate to say that because I believe every kitten deserves a loving home, but I feel it’s my responsibility to educate you, my valued readers, on how to choose a kitten or cat who will be sweet and loving – a joy to have in your home.

Make sure you choose a healthy kitten.  They are active, have bright clear eyes, a glossy coat, and no nasal discharge.  Body build should be lean without being scrawny or potbellied.

If you don’t find your dream kitten your first time out, don’t be discouraged.  There are so many darling kittens out there.  I highly recommend  You can enter the type(s) of kittens you might like, plus the area you live in, and Petfinder will come up with photos and bios of kittens plus the names of local animal shelters and rescue groups.

If an adult cat is more to your liking, that’s also a great choice.  Adult cats are easier than kittens, because basically what you see is what you get – their personalities are fully formed.  One exception is an in-heat or pregnant female, because her personality may change once she’s spayed.  Look for a cat who is playful and friendly.  Your cat will most likely get more relaxed once they get home because noisy shelters can be stressful.

In closing, just remember – be patient, know what type of cat you want (although you may fall in love with a sweet cat who is totally different than the one you imagined bringing home) and above all, be patient.  That great cat is out there for you!