If a shelter or rescue cat just isn't in the works and a kitten is in your sights, then put on your cute blinders and do your best to be picky. Dr. Chan says there are a few signs to look for to ensure your prospective playmate is healthy. "Generally, you want to pick a kitten who is active, eating well, and doesn't have discharge from the eyes, mouth, or nose," says Chan. "Ask if it's had any recent health issues and when was the last time it was dewormed or vaccinated. Ask as many questions as possible."
But those tips are just the shorthand. Before taking a kitten home, you'll need to take special precautions for its safety. Foremost you'll need to confirm it's at least six to eight weeks old – that's the earliest point for a kitten to have received enough maternal antibodies from mom's milk. It's also enough time for a kitten to develop social skills through interaction with its litter mates, which will make for a far more affable animal. That is also old enough to be vaccinated.
Once you've chosen an appropriately aged kitten, purchase it only on the condition that it passes a pre-adoption health check. "Absolutely get it checked by a veterinarian whom you trust," says Chan. "A minimum check would include testing for FeLV/FIV and fecal parasites." Taking this extra step to ensure the kitten is healthy not only prevents having to spend tons of money on medical bills in the future, it prevents foreign parasites from entering your home, which can pose a health risk to you, your family, and your other pets.