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So you've decided to make some lucky cat your pet. There are so many decisions to make. Do you want and adult cat or a kitten? Do you want a female or a male? Do you want a long-hair or short-hair cat? Do you want it pedigreed? Where do you go to select a cat? How can you tell if the cat you pick is healthy? Ultimately, the wrong choice can bring grief and trouble. The right choice can bring you and your cat happiness for years to come.

Cat or Kitten? Kittens are adorable, cuddly balls of fur, but like all animals, they require time and care to raise them as good pets. It must be trained and fed regularly. Some kittens eat four or five times a day. An illness for a kitten can be more serious than it might be to a more mature cat.

A mature cat does not require as much care or training if he's already learned to handle himself in a house. He can also get along on one meal a day.

Some humane shelters will not release kittens to families with young children since they often treat kittens as toys in their eagerness to play with them. That is dangerous to the kitten. An adult cat is better able to protect himself. He will know to defend himself if it is necessary. Of course, you can train your young children to handle a young kitten correctly. These lessons will carry on through life and make the child more compassionate to all living creatures.

A kitten will adjust more easily to a new owner and a new home. An older cat may find adjustment more difficult since he has grown accustomed to his previous home.

If you have other pets, a kitten should be your choice. The existing pets will take longer to adjust to the kitten than the kitten will take to adjust to them. It may take a few days.

If you need a good mouser for immediate duty, then the adult cat is your choice. Adult and fully grown, he can do the job.

Male or female? There are definite differences. A male cat is usually very cozy and friendly with his owner where a female will be more cautious. She will be hesitant to make a sudden move where a male will not hesitate to jump in your lap.

Since female cats do have kittens, perhaps, litter after litter, for which you will have to find good homes, you may want to consider having your cat spayed by your veterinarian. This makes females better pets because they will no longer go through periods of heat and pregnancy. It will also make the cat healthier in the long run.

You may also want to neuter your male to help avoid spraying around your house with the resulting strong, offensive odor. Neutering will also keep the male cat home more as his need to wander and try to mate will lessen.

To determine the sex of the kitten, the male cats has two small dots like a colon mark (:) beneath his tail; the female has an upside down exclamation point.

Long-hair or short-hair? Long-haired cats require more attention in regard to grooming. They are more docile usually, and they are more showy. Sometimes it's just a matter of preferring a specific breed.

It is good to see the kitten's parents in order to pre-determine temperament.

Pedigreed? This is a matter of preference and money. Usually pedigreed cats are more expensive. If you want to exhibit or breed your cat, the answer for you is pedigreed. Even if you are not interested in doing this, you just might want a purebred for other reasons:
-You know just what you are getting.
-You can know what the kitten's appearance will be.
-Your cat will be good as a pet and as a show cat.
-You will have acquired a cat with a pedigree that may be traced back for generations.
-A purebred cat worthy of a breeding program can be registered in one of the large Cat Associations.

Where to get it? If you've decided to get a cat, you can ask a veterinarian to give you names of reputable catteries and pet shops in your locality. Many breeders advertise in cat related magazines and newspapers. If you're looking for pedigree, attend a cat show and ask some owners. The humane society is a good place to get unregistered cats. Make sure whatever cat you get, the purchase is contingent upon a good health check from the veterinarian and that the cat has his inoculations. This contingency is also if the cat is gotten from a neighbor or friend.

Healthy? The veterinarian is the professional opinion and knows what to look for, but you can look for the following when choosing your pet:
--clear eyes, free of irritation, tearing, or discharge
--clean ears, free of ear mites or other foreign material
--firm, pink gums, free of sores
--glossy coat without bare patches, lumps, or redness
--firm and muscular body, free from rashes.
--avoid getting a cat with a runny nose or eyes as it is a sign of disease.

Try calling the kitten to see the response. This will determine alertness, deafness, and if the cat is too shy.

The physically sound cat is active, bright, and responsive, even at an early age. All cats are naturally curious and intelligent, but some are more so than others.

Whatever your choice is, you are embarking on a wonderful and rewarding experience.