Kittens are wonderful pets. However, prospective owners need to be prepared for the little one's arrival, and should follow a few guidelines when adopting a kitten.
- Look in newspaper ads, at local animal shelters or animal rescue organizations for the perfect kitten. Most of the time, kittens are readily available through one of these outlets. The prospective owner should be prepared to pay a small adoption fee, part of which may be redeemable toward having the animal spayed or neutered. If the animal is already altered, then the fee helps the owners pay the surgery bill.
- Make sure the kitten is old enough to leave the mother. A kitten should be about six weeks old before it is adopted. It should be able to walk and run, and should also be able to eat moistened kitten chow. Do not agree to adopt kittens that do not have their eyes opened yet, or cannot walk. They still need mom's milk and 24-hour care.
- Check the kitten's physical condition. The animal should be lively, alert and playful. The eyes should be clear and there should be no evidence of feces in the fur. The coat should be in good shape and the nose and paw pads clean and with no discharge. Make sure the kitten is not coughing or sneezing, and check the littermates' health, if possible. Look around at the kitten's home, as well. The environment, even in a shelter, should be clean, warm and dry.
- The prospective owner should make sure their house is kitten-proofed, as well. Kittens will explore everywhere, so access behind counters and appliances should be blocked and empty outlets should have covers. All chemicals and dangerous substances should be put away. The owner should also monitor the kitten and make sure it doesn't chew on electrical cords, or anything else that would be harmful. The new home should have a litter box, food and water dishes and a bed when the kitten comes home. Toys should also be available, although the owner may find that the plastic ring from the milk jug is the most desirable toy.
- A visit to the veterinarian is the final step in adopting a kitten. The pet owner should first ask the previous owner if the kitten has had any shots, and ask for the veterinary records if these are available. The owner should then take the kitten to the vet, arrange for all shots, and set a date for the animal to be spayed or neutered, if this has not been done.