Sometimes people do not choose their cat; their cat chooses them. Because they are such independent creatures they will often take it upon themselves to find a good home. Every cat I have ever owned has come to me in this way! This is fabulous when it happens. More often though, it is your choice to have a new pet, and it will be you choosing the individual cat which is to live in your home.
Before going to look at any prospective new cats you should ideally make several decisions about what type of cat is for you. Would you like a kitten or an older animal? What breed of cat do you want and would you like a male or a female? Once you have made these decisions it is a good idea to stick to them. It is very easy to go and look at prospective cats and end up getting completely the opposite kind of animal to the type you originally wanted! This can result in a fabulous pet, but in most cases it is probably best not to make such decisions on impulse. You may feel that you would like more than one cat so that they can keep each other company. This is a good idea and is best achieved by introducing two kittens into the household at the same time.
The first decision to be made is what breed of cat you would like. You may favour domestic moggies, or you may prefer a pedigree animal, especially if you intend to show or breed from your cat in the future. There are many different breeds of cat to choose from and they all have their own characteristics. If you choose a pedigree cat it is easier to tell what its characteristics are likely to be, as in general these will be fairly typical of its breed.
You will need to consider if you would like a male or a female cat. It will make little difference if you are going to get your pet neutered but otherwise a female is usually easier than a male, especially if you are inexperienced. Entire males tend to scent mark with urine and are more likely to fight and roam than females. If you want to breed from your cat it will be much easier to start with a female and take her to a stud male, or in the case of non-pedigrees you could just let her out when she is in season and she will almost certainly find a husband!
Would you like an adult cat or a kitten? Adult cats are readily available from rescue homes and often make good pets. Sometimes adult cats are available from breeders. The advantage of choosing an adult cat is that its characteristics will be well formed so you can tell what kind of pet you will get. Kittens are of course adorable and they are fun to watch as they grow.
Once these general choices are made you will need to find a suitable pet. This can be done through contacting reputable breeders if you are looking for a pedigree cat. If not, you may wish to contact animal shelters, pet shops or look for adverts in your local newspaper or at your local veterinary surgery.
Ideally pedigree cats should be obtained from a breeder since their history will be known and usually documented. It is easy to predict the nature of your kitten if the parents can both be seen and this is likely to be possible with a responsible breeder. Breeders often supply kittens slightly older than other sources (about 12 weeks of age instead of 6 - 8 weeks) and they may have been house-trained and vaccinated before you take them home.
If you choose a cat from an animal shelter you will often get a very deserving pet, but do be aware that the cat may have an unknown history and will be more likely to be suffering from infectious diseases than cats from other sources. Make sure you find out about the reason for rehoming. If this was due to a problem such as excessive urine marking or another unpleasant habit you will have to consider carefully if this is a suitable pet for you.
Pet shops vary greatly in their care of kittens and kittens from pet shops are more likely to have infectious diseases than those from a family home or a breeder. If you obtain a non-pedigree cat it may be best if you try to obtain one from a family home where you may be able to see the mother and have a reasonable idea about your new pet's history.
When you go to choose a kitten from a litter ensure you see the mother as well. Good breeders will be happy to let you meet her and you may get to see the father too. The mother should be friendly and appear to be in good health. The kittens should then be seen and checked to ensure they are also friendly, playful, active and healthy. Never choose a kitten because you feel sorry for the sad one sitting alone in the corner. It will almost certainly be poorly in some way. Never choose fearful or aggressive kittens either because they are likely to retain these characteristics throughout their life. Check that the kittens have no signs of infection such as runny eyes and noses or sneezing.
Kittens are usually available to take home from 6-8 weeks of age. Breeders will often not let their kittens go until they are 12 weeks old. The kitten should have been weaned and you should be provided with some food for the first few days. You should find out if the kitten has had any worming treatment or vaccinations and when any further treatment is due. Very occasionally you may be unlucky and choose a kitten which seems healthy but was actually incubating a disease at the time you chose it. If this is the case many breeders will take the kitten back or offer to help with vet's fees. As soon as the problem is noticed talk to the breeder. If your kitten is still healthy two weeks after you acquire it infectious diseases were unlikely to have been present at the time of purchase. It is always wise to take your kitten for a veterinary check soon after you bring it home, in this way problems which you could not detect yourself such as heart disease may be diagnosed and brought to your attention.
Make a considered choice of your new feline friend and he or she will bring you years of companionship and pleasure.