How to buy a kitten responsibly

So you’re thinking of welcoming a kitten into your home – congratulations! Take a look at our advice on where to buy kittens responsibly to ensure your new pet has the best start in life.

If you’ve decided you’re ready to welcome a new kitten into your home, it’s time to research the best places to find your new furry friend.

Where is the best place to buy kittens?

When it comes to figuring out where to buy kittens, you have three main options:

  • Buying a kitten from a breeder
  • Buying a kitten from a private seller
  • Adopting a kitten from a rescue centre

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.

Buying a kitten from a breeder

If you want a pedigree cat, contact a specialist breeder. Choose one registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), The International Cat Association (TICA) or another established body to be sure they follow responsible breeding practices.

Do your research to make sure your preferred breed has the temperament and character traits to suit your lifestyle. A good breeder will be happy to answer any questions around this.

Pedigree cats don’t normally leave their mother until 12 to 14 weeks old – around a month later than a typical moggy. By that age, they should have had flea and worm treatments and a full course of vaccinations.

How much does a pedigree cat cost?

Prices start at a few hundred pounds, rising to £2000 or more for the most sought-after breeds. A kitten whose parents are both pure-breeds will have a registration certificate showing their registration number, registered name (longer and fancier than their everyday name!) and parentage. Without this certificate, your cat cannot be considered a pure-breed. Never pay a pure-breed price for a non-pedigree cat and avoid sellers who claim they can source a cheaper pedigree kitten from overseas. Such kittens are often raised and transported in appalling conditions.

Buying a kitten from a private seller

Online selling sites and community notice boards are awash with ads offering kittens for sale. So how can you spot an ethical seller from an unscrupulous one?

Kitten farming has been a big problem in the UK, so in April 2020 a new law made it illegal to sell kittens (or puppies) under six months old unless the seller is also the breeder. Under ‘Lucy’s Law’, the mother must be shown alongside the kittens in the place where the kittens are being raised.

How much does a kitten cost from a private seller?

The cost of kittens has increased recently. Cats Protection reports that ‘moggy’ kittens, which might have sold for around £50 until recently, are now advertised for up to £350.

Warning signs of an irresponsible breeder

Sadly, there are still deceitful sellers guilty of ‘petfishing’ – pretending an animal comes from a happy home when it has actually been farmed or mistreated. Red flags include:

  • Several ads from the same seller, or same phone number, offering different animals for sale
  • The seller demanding a large deposit upfront
  • The seller wanting to show you kittens in a non-domestic setting like a car park or their garage
  • Kittens who seem poorly, lethargic, dirty or riddled with parasites, or who are fearful or aggressive around people.

If the seller seems legitimate, ask questions about the kitten’s date of birth, parentage, health and upbringing so far. If you’re satisfied with the answers, arrange to see the kitten at home with their mother and littermates so you can see the temperament and personality of all the cats in the family and check they appear healthy with clean, comfortable surroundings.

Make the first visit a viewing only. Don’t buy on impulse without being fully prepared for your new cat’s arrival.

Adopting a kitten from a rescue centre

For many cat lovers the answer to finding a new kitten is ‘don’t shop; adopt’! Animal charities and rescue centres have a constant supply of cats, and sometimes kittens, looking for caring new owners. Sadly, the pet-buying boom during the pandemic saw some people choosing unsuitable cats, leading to increased numbers needing rehoming.

Rescue centres do rehome kittens, often through foster carers. However, they get snapped up quickly and there’s a far greater need for new homes for adult cats.

One advantage of adopting an adult cat is that their personality is already fully formed – you know if you’re getting a lap-cat or a chatterbox. Mature cats are also less needy than kittens, and less likely to climb your curtains!

How much does adopting a kitten cost?

You’ll usually pay around £60 to £90 to help cover the charity’s costs. For this sum, your cat will be:

  • Vaccinated
  • Treated for fleas and worms
  • Microchipped
  • Vet checked
  • Spayed or neutered (if old enough)

How to use the Kitten Checklist

Petplan have collaborated with Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick on a New Kitten Checklist. It contains plenty of useful advice  about bringing your kitten home, but you should also bear the following things in mind:

  • Age. Never agree to take a kitten home before they are eight weeks old. They need care and milk from their mother until this age, otherwise they could have serious health or behavioural problems.
  • Upbringing. For a kitten to thrive as a pet, ideally they will have been raised by a healthy, good-natured mother in a home setting with plenty of human interaction. If you want your kitten to get along with children or dogs, choose one who has grown up in this kind of environment.
  • Health. Kittens should be bright and alert with no obvious health problems. Check for discharge from the eyes or nose, skin sores, a dirty bottom (which may indicate diarrhoea) or an uneven gait. Ask if the kitten has been seen by a vet and had vaccinations,  worm and flea treatments.

Petplan works with many adoption charities, and some pedigree cat breeders, to offer a period of free pet insurance to new kitten owners. It’s our way of supporting high welfare standards and ensuring your cat gets the best possible start in their new life with you.

Sign up to Petplan insurance to ensure you’ve got the best care in place for your new cat, whatever the future brings.  

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