How To Pick A Kitten

This post is not an excuse to post pictures of kittens. It’s not!

Cutest Kitten Ever

People always ask me how I ended up with such friendly cats. (Some would call my cats overly friendly.) Part of this is that they have always gotten a lot of attention but part of it is that I picked good kittens in the first place.

Cat personalities can run the gambit from feral to lap cats. Luckily, picking a kitten is not hard at all–in fact it’s very fun–but there are a few things to look for to make sure you get a good one. You want to make sure the kitten is friendly, healthy, and has a good personality.

cute white kitten

There are other things to consider when picking a kitten–what it looks like, whether the cat sheds, and whether you want a male or a female (I usually get male cats but find the sex doesn’t matter as long as you get the cat fixed when it’s young). But if you focus on the following points first, you will be happy with your adoption.

kitten in a bowl

When looking for a kitten, make sure the kitten:

Purrs when you touch it

Unlike adult cats, a good kitten will purr every time it’s picked up. I can’t stress enough how important this is for ending up with a friendly cat. A purring kitten means it’s used to being handled and that it likes people. A kitten that doesn’t purr may be the cutest thing in the world, but if it isn’t bonded to people, it won’t have the same relationship with you that a kitten that purrs will. (Most likely, anyway–there are exceptions to every rule.) If you want a cat that comes when you calls, loves to cuddle, and follows you around, get a kitten that purrs when you pick it up.

Is healthy

There is nothing sadder than a sick kitten. You want your kitten to be in good shape and healthy.

This includes:

A healthy coat

Cats show their health in their fur, so look for a shiny, thick coat. An unhealthy coat may look dull, feel thin, or even have bald spots.

A healthy weight

You want a kitten with a bit of fat on its body and good muscle tone. Skeletal kittens can have serious problems.

Clear eyes

It’s common for kittens to have runny eyes. Usually this is a simple problem that can be cleared up by medication, but it’s still something to think about.

Normal breathing

Kittens that wheeze, sneeze, or show other respiratory issues are doing so because they’re sick. Usually this is a common cold, but sometimes it can be more serious.

Seems energetic

Of course cats sleep a lot, but when the kitten is awake, it should show interest in playing and be generally bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Has a clean butt

Sorry, but you have to check under the tail too. You don’t want to see blood, diarrhea, or any other nasty-looking problems.

Connects with you

Wait for a kitten that has a personality. Usually, this means the kitten will notice and interact with you. Maybe he will come across the cage to see you, maybe he will bat at your clothes, or maybe he will fall asleep on you in the store, as in the case of our most recent cat. However this manifests, you’ll know it when you see it.

kitten adorable 2

How did you know your cat was “the one”?

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21 thoughts on “How To Pick A Kitten”

  1. We’ve only adopted adult cats from shelters or taken them in as strays. Adults are a bit easier to judge then kittens as their personalities have already been formed. Our current cat (a seal point applehead Siamese from the Humane Society) licked me the first time I offered her my hand to sniff before petting her. It turns out she is not really a kissy cat, but she is a friendly, cuddly one, so we made the right choice.

  2. For me, I have only ever had two kittens. One, I saved from going to the pound. The other, Sammy Cat, Picked me. And yes he was a purr machine and loved everyone!

  3. I have often said that my family was the luckiest family in the world because we got to bring home the best kittens in the world. We searched high and low and waited until just the right situation presented itself. Our two beauties are sisters, were born indoors, and had loving human touches since they were newborns. Having never been separated and having always been loved by humans, our two are incredibly affectionate but not annoyingly so. One purrs like a motorcycle (even when we just look her way) and the other is completely devoted to my teenage son which is heavenly. Thanks for sharing your great advice!

  4. We adopted our two male cats from a humane society when they were about 8-9 weeks old. My husband and I decided we would each choose a cat so we approached the decision differently. I knew I wanted a male grey kitty and, fortunately, there was only one. He was sleeping in a little group of about 3 other kittens and, before I could pick him up, he opened his eyes, stretched and reached for me. I was sold! He has been a momma’s boy ever since.
    My husband was looking for a very active kitty and found that in our other cat. That cat started out as very independent and active and has turned into the more outwardly affectionate cat. He plays fetch with us and then turns around and nuzzles for days! We spent maybe 10-15 minutes with all the kittens before really deciding which ones we’d take home. They were definitely the best decisions for us and are super affectionate with everyone who comes to our house.
    While it’s great to have guidelines, a lot of the end result comes from the environment the kitten grows up in. If you give your cat lots of attention from the start, they are much more likely to be purr-boxes for the rest of their lives. Thanks for the post; it’s about time cats start to get a reputation for being cuddly!

  5. I adopted my kitty, Hermione, from the humane society. She was in a cage with two of her brothers (they told us she was a male, too, since orange cats are typically males), and I had a heartbreaking time choosing one! But the thing that sold me on her was when she reached her little paw out and swiped at my shoelace. She’s been just as playful ever since, although she’s turned into a bit of a princess now! 🙂

  6. I found my kitten hiding in the bumper of a car in a parking garage. He was only five weeks old.
    It took a few days, but he warmed up to us quickly and now is the sweetest, happiest little guy.
    Later, I found out he was born in the flower boxes outside our apartment building to a feral mother cat, and somehow got separated from her. His mom still lives outside, but she has been spayed and a few of us feed her daily. His little sister was also adopted and is doing fine.

  7. Love this article. We too are very lucky to have found the perfect fir for our family. We went to a shelter that has a policy of not adopting out kittens until they have been fixed, but that also means they are a bit older (4 months). I went into the kitten room with my 3 boys (3,5, & 7), they opened the doors to the cages and waited for our kitten too choose us. She hopped into put laps and started purring right away. We thought we were going into meat a solid colored little guy and came home with a tiger striped girl, but we know without a doubt she was meant for us. I think that has to part of the process when going to a shelter especially, telling yourself looks are secondary to the right personality. Thanks for sharing, I will pass on your article when others compliment us on our affectionate feline.

  8. While, unfortunately, our feline companion recently passed, we had her for two years and she completely chose us.
    We actually went to the pound looking for a puppy, but having grown up with cats I couldn’t help myself but checking out the kittens. So I was just looking through the cage, I wasn’t brave enough to risk going in, but this one kitten came right up to the bars and meowed at me so cutely I had to say hello. I rubbed her cheeks through the bars and she purred and went mad over me.
    I was smitten. But we didn’t get her. We left and came back a few weeks later, and I knew, I could not leave without her again. She was still there, so instead of a puppy we got a kitten. Never regretted it. She loved my partner and they bonded enormously (he’s a dog person) and even the vet commented on how docile and easy to handle she was for a pound cat.
    Still missing her. She put the standards for our next kitten up very high.
    Sometimes you just know. Trust it!

  9. I got Indiana as a kitten from our local no-kill shelter. I can’t remember what drew me to him, but as he grew up not only was he very affectionate, but obviously lonely. I went back to the shelter to find him a companion and found Rosie.
    Rosie was a one-year old cat who was very affectionate and came right to me when I met her. Taking her home was a different story though. Taken from a neglectful home where she was one of fifty-plus cats rescued, outside the safety of her shelter, Rosie was skittish and hid under my bed. I knew she was coming out for food & water when I was out, but my heart broke for her.
    It was literally a month before she came out from under the bed but then she quickly warmed up to her new home. Indy & Rosie have become fast friends.

  10. We got our cat from a shelter. Originally we had our heart set on another sweet and beautiful kitten, but they told us there was a hold on getting him. When we went back again, we saw her sitting in a cage just staring at us, looking so cute.
    Turns out she was sick, and had been found with her siblings by some teenagers. She was also a tortoiseshell, and we didn’t know at the time that torties have such independent, strong personalities.
    I wanted a sweet and affectionate cat, and she is usually anything but that!
    You know what? That’s ok though, she is our cat, we rescued her, and we love her. She was very sick as a kitten, and we invested time and money in her. She is smart, bright, healthy, sweet when she wants to be, mischievous, and very playful.
    She isn’t my dream cat, but she is still my pet and I love her as is. 🙂

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  12. My kitten came from a pedigree Birman breeder who raises her cats in her family home. My kitten was chasing her cousin when I arrived, but she ran up to me and licked my fingers, so I had to have her. She was the smallest kitten there, but certainly no runt. Eight years later, she’s the best cat I know. She greets me at the door with purrs and conversations, loves a good game, comes when she is called, bosses me around when it is bed time, and seems to know when visitors are expected, warning me with cat growls at the front door, if there’s someone we don’t know outside.

  13. I went in to the humane society to get an all orange kitty. I found one 10-week old call orange with two brothers-one black and white and one orange and white. As I was walking to the “get to know you room” with the orange, something compelled me to ask to bring the orange and white brother. In the room, the orange guy wanted nothing to do with me, but his bro was playing and purring with me. He came home with me that day and has been the best kitty for the past 10 years!

  14. My cats have usually found me. My last kitty, Sammy Davis, Jr., found me putting up the christmas lights the first year I owned my current house. He was just a natural fit to my crazy animal family. I miss him so much, and will probably get another Kitty soon.

  15. I got my cat “secondhand” as an adult – her owner died and she was totally stressed out by the cat at her foster home. She is my second black cat 🙂 She’s not cuddly unfortunately, but very talkative which I really enjoy.

  16. I have always been a cat person. However, I haven’t had a pet of any kind in many yers. Three years ago my husband died in a house fire. I want a companion, to love and care for. I would be apefect care giver and I have a lot of love to give.

  17. I got my cat from a lady who said he was friendly he spent a lot of time on my lap and I carried him around a lot I also played and played with him but now he basically ignores me goes outside and then comes in again to eatwe’ve never been mean to him what do we do


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