Additional questions to ask when adopting from a shelter:
1. How old was the kitten when it was abandoned or found?
As mentioned earlier, kittens that spend more time with their mother have a different temperament than those that were separated too early. This can have health and behavioral consequences.
2. Was the kitten abandoned with its mother? With his siblings?
This will be a determining factor for their personality and level of self-confidence.
3. What were the living conditions of the kitten before arriving at the shelter?
Any additional information about their past can help understand your new companion. This is in terms of both behavior and health.
4. Does the shelter or relocation association test for viral diseases?
When the origin of a kitten is unclear, the possibility that it carries viruses that cause diseases such as feline immunodeficiency (FIV), feline leukemia (FeLV), coryza, herpes, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), etc. is very real. Some of these diseases can go undetected for years before causing symptoms. Sometimes the kitten will never get sick itself, but it can infect other cats in the house.
5. What is the shelter or foster care policy if you have the kitten tested privately and they test positive for a viral illness?
If the shelter has not yet tested the kitten for viral transmissible diseases, it is important to have your veterinarian test the kitten for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus on their first visit. Find out if the shelter is willing to take the kitten back and provide adequate veterinary care if the test is positive. Remember that unless you have other cats at home who might be infected, kittens that test positive for these viruses still need a good home and can lead happy lives provided their owners are vigilant in their care and that they see their veterinarians regularly.
6. What are the kitten’s current living conditions?
Is the kitten alone in its living space? Do kittens from the same litter live together? Are kittens from different litters mixed? Are special hygiene precautions taken when handlers move from one group of kittens to another?
These considerations are important because putting together kittens of different and unknown origins increases the likelihood of spreading contagious diseases.
Things to check for yourself during the visit:
1. Take a good look at the mother with her kittens!
This of course only applies to breeders and families, but it is important.
2. Does the kitten’s mother look healthy?
A mother in poor health has more difficulty caring for her kittens and can be contagious to them. It may also reflect the level of care provided by the breeder or family. It is also a good idea to ask the breeder or family if the mother is vaccinated and what types of preventive care she has received against internal and external parasites.
3. How does the kitten’s mother react to you?
An affectionate and confident cat is more likely to raise affectionate and confident kittens.
4. How many cats and kittens are there in the household?
There is an increased risk of disease when there are many cats. A large number of cats makes the individual and special care of the breeder for each of them more difficult. It can also increase one’s stress level, which lowers their immunity and makes them more susceptible to disease.
5. Is the kitten’s living environment clean (bowl, litter box, bedding, rest of the room)?
The cleanliness of the living space is often a reflection of the level of care provided by the breeder, the family, or the employees of the shelter. A clean environment also reduces the risk of disease.
6. Does the kitten show all the signs of good health?
- General appearance: the kitten should be lively and curious
- Nose: there should be no visible discharge
- Eyes: they should be shiny and clean
- Ears: they should not be read and should be clean
- Under the tail: this area must be clean, without signs of diarrhea or redness
- Coat: the coat must be clean, without traces of parasites (visible fleas or mites or their excrement which looks like small black spots of dirt), the skin must not be red, and the kitten must not scratch
- Movement: the kitten must move with ease and agility
Advice! Look for these same signs in other kittens, as some diseases can be passed on to the entire litter.
7. Has the kitten been dewormed?
This is important information to give your veterinarian during the kitten’s first exam, to put in place the best preventative care plan.
8. Has the kitten been identified?
Some countries require kittens to be microchipped before purchase. Find out if this is the case where you live and make sure the breeder follows the legal requirements. A microchip is the best form of identification and has helped bring many lost cats home safely.
9. Has the kitten been vaccinated?
Vaccination regulations vary from country to country. Ask your veterinarian about the legal requirements where you live. If you are adopting a kitten from another country, certain vaccinations may be required before travel, so be sure to be informed well in advance. If the kitten has been vaccinated, do not forget to ask him for his vaccination record so that your veterinarian knows when to give him his reminders.
10. What is the kitten currently eating?
Ask the breeder, family, or shelter if they can give you a packet of the kitten’s current food. Moving to a new environment is stressful for him. Making sure he gets a diet he’s used to can reduce the risk of diarrhea in the first few days. Your veterinarian can then advise you on the best diet for your cat and how to make the transition smooth.
11. What type of litter does the kitten use?
Just like with food, giving your kitten the litter box they are used to will provide them with something familiar and comforting in their new surroundings.
12. Was the kitten comfortable when you handled it?
Kittens may be shy at first, but if you’re able to touch, handle and play with them by the end of your visit, that’s a sign that they’re confident and balanced. If, on the other hand, the kitten was nervous, even defensive, and/or aggressive, it will probably grow up in the same way. In this case, it may be necessary to find a family where the stress threshold is minimal. For example in a household without children or other pets.