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There are many things to consider when adopting a cat or kitten. You must decide the breed and the sex for example. However, the most important issue is making sure the cat or kitten you decide to take home is healthy.

Determining whether a cat is healthy is mostly common sense. Most problems can be noticed upon visual inspection alone.

1) Start by examining the cat’s current environment. Whether it is a private home, pet shop or shelter, the surroundings should be clean. Many problems can arise if a cat is kept in unhygienic conditions.
2) Watch the cat for awhile. It should appear alert, lively, well nourished and groomed. This will also give you the opportunity to get a feel for the cat’s temperament and personality.
3) Hold the cat and inspect its coat. The coat should feel soft and have a shine to it. Also, be sure to look at the skin. The skin should be free of irritation, flakiness and any signs of fleas. Skin that is dry and irritated could be a sign of illness.
4) While you are handling the cat, check that the ribs are not protruding. The cat should be well nourished, but a “pot-belly” could be a sign of worms.
5) Next, examine the eyes and ears of the cat. Both should be clean and free of discharge. If the ears appear dirty, ear mites could be to blame. If there is discharge around the eyes, a respiratory infection could be suspected.
6) If you are able to inspect the cat’s mouth, the teeth should appear clean and the gums should look healthy and free of sores or abscess.
7) The rear of the cat should also be checked. Look for any signs of diarrhea, such as stool matted in the hair around the anus. Also search for signs of worms. Some worms will look like pieces of white rice outside of the anus.
8) If you are seeking a kitten, make sure it is of proper age. Though kittens are weaned from the mother at 4-5 weeks of age, the ideal time for adopting is at 6 weeks of age.
9) Be sure to inquire about the history of the cat- vaccinations, worming, etc. Get as much information and documentation that is available.

If you decide that this is the pet for you, be sure to acquire a veterinarian appointment as soon as possible. A veterinarian has the education and the proper equipment to give your new family member a clean bill of health.