The Kitten Checklist launched to help owners avoid heartache - Veterinary Practice
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The Kitten Checklist launched to help owners avoid heartache

Twenty animal and veterinary organisations have come together to create The Kitten Checklist aimed at equipping prospective owners with guidelines on adopting or buying a kitten

The Kitten Checklist, which was launched by The Cat Group on 24 September, has been developed to help potential new owners find a happy, healthy kitten, and to avoid the heartache and potential costs involved with taking on a sick kitten or one which is frightened of people. The Kitten Checklist covers how to identify signs of ill health, how to understand the kitten’s behaviour and how to determine how comfortable it is around people. Whether the kitten comes from a neighbour, a pedigree cat breeder or a homing organisation, be it free or paid for, the same advice applies to all.

According to the PDSA Animal Well-being (PAW) Report 2018, over a third of people who take on a non-pedigree kitten do no research before getting their cat (for pedigree cats this comes down to 15 percent), with men less likely to do research (35 percent do no research compared to 29 percent of women). Unfortunately, there can be serious pitfalls of poor health or fearfulness when choosing a kitten without knowing what to look for, as the case reports below illustrate.

Most people looking to get a kitten, want a kitten that will develop into a healthy, confident cat that will fit into family life. It is important to see kittens with their mother in the place where the kittens were bred and to find out about the kitten’s history and health – The Kitten Checklist explains why all these things are so important.

Cat behaviourist and author Vicky Halls says: “Many people don’t understand that in order to become a good pet cat, kittens need positive interactions with people and need to get used to the human environment and lifestyle before they are about 8 weeks old. This responsibility lies with the person who has bred the cat (either accidentally or purposefully) because these important things happen before the new owner even gets the kitten. Being happy around people is something which has to be developed in a kitten and will not happen naturally if that positive interaction between people and the kitten has not occurred at the right time. If this opportunity is missed, kittens may be fearful or nervous and never become confident interactive pets.”

Steve Reed, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats advised: “Understanding what you want from a cat and what can be expected of that cat, can help to avoid the stress (for you and the kitten), heartache and potential expenses caused by illness or inherited problems in some pedigree kittens. Every kitten looks cute and people often take on kittens because they feel sorry for them, or just don’t want to say no to the seller. Under new legislation, a kitten must not be homed until it is 8 weeks old.”

The Kitten Checklist will help prospective owners choose the right kitten for them. As with most things, doing some research and being prepared can help to alleviate many of the potential problems.

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