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Click here for some handy Pet Guides..... How to choose a Kitten | How to Groom a Cat | How to give a Cat a Tablet | How to Give a Dog a Tablet | How to Groom a Dog | Dog Grooming Tips | How to Prevent Fleas | Feeding Advice for Older Dogs

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Choosing a kitten

If possible, try to get a kitten from a reliable source such as an animal shelter, a friend or a recommended cat breeder. It is very important that you get your kitten from a good home where the kittens have been handled from an early age. This will help prevent behavioural problems when they are older. Don't buy kittens from pet shops or through an advertisement in the paper as you could be buying a kitten infected with cat flu, ringworm and fleas.

Cats are living longer and longer, so you could have your pet for up to 16 years. Don't be tempted to pick the shy little runt as you may only incur heartbreak when it becomes ill. Take your time and select a sturdy, healthy kitten that is bursting with personality. Check its sex, which is easy if you have a littermate to compare with. In the female the anus and vulva are close together while in the male the anus and penis are further apart. A good owner should allow you visit their home to view the kittens with their mother. The surroundings should be hygienic with clean litter trays and happy, playful kittens.

A healthy kitten should be/have:

alert, curious and mischievous. It should be used to being handled by humans and not hiss or cower away when picked up
clear bright eyes with no discharge. Any discharge at all can be a sign of cat flu
clean, pink ears with no evidence of caked, brown wax. This would indicate ear mites
a nose that is damp and soft as velvet. There should be no discharge or crusting of the nostrils
a healthy coat with no black dirt in the coat indicating flea dirt. Examine the belly, as this is the most likely place to find fleas
a clean bottom - check the litter tray to make sure no kittens have diarrhoea
free from ringworm which is common in kittens from bad homes. Check there are no bald patches anywhere in the coat
Kittens can be taken to their new home between 6- 8 weeks. If you have other cats at home it is very important that you take your new kitten for a full health check to your vet before bringing her home. Your vet will check for any infectious diseases like ringworm and cat flu, and will discuss diet, vaccination and worming. They will also check for any birth defects like umbilical hernias (belly button hernias).

Don't be worried if your kitten has extra digits on one or more of its feet. This is called polydactylia (many toes). Sometimes the nails on these extra toes can become overgrown so ask your vet to show you how to keep them trim. In extreme cases, if the toes are causing problems, your cat may need surgery, but most times they are just unique features of your pet!

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