How to choose a healthy kitten

So you’ve decided to adopt a kitten - great news. But before you visit the shelter, here are some tips to help make sure the kitten you choose is a healthy one.

Whether you are planning to adopt a kitten from a rescue centre or choose one from a litter, it is important to check that she is in good health. Firstly, kittens should not be separated from their mothers until they are fully weaned. This is usually around 9 weeks of age.

Looking at the kitten straight on, she should have clean, clear eyes with no discharge, as this could indicate a respiratory problem. Her nose should be clear, cool, slightly damp, and clear from mucus or signs of sneezing. Her ears should be clean and pink - black specks and a dark brown, waxy discharge in the ear canal may indicate ear mites. Although mites are easily treated, it could suggest the kittens are being poorly cared for.

Coat and cuddles

Next, take a wider look of the kitten. How does her tummy look? A swollen tummy could be caused by poor nutrition or worms. You should also check her behind for any evidence of diarrhoea. Her coat should be glossy with no signs of matting, and her legs should be straight and well formed, allowing her to move around and jump with ease.

Now see how she interacts with the other kittens and her mother. A healthy kitten should be alert and inquisitive to her surroundings. Beyond that, it is a question of personality. Is she adventurous or shy? When you pick her up, does she cuddle in to you or wriggle free to keep exploring? Ask yourself which you'd prefer

- a lap cat or a ball of energy?

- before deciding on your new pet.

Don’t forget to ask about the kitten’s health and vaccination history. If in doubt, do not hesitate to get her checked over by your vet first.
A prominent third eyelid (the barely visible membrane at the corner of the eye, nearest the nose) may indicate a chronic eye illness or poor health.