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Cats and kittens can be purchased in numerous ways - through newspaper or magazine ads, from animal shelters, from families that have a household cat that gave birth to a litter, and even strays found on the street.  Whatever your method of obtaining your cat, you should understand the benefits and drawbacks of each one. 


Strays

The saying, "You don't choose a cat, it chooses you," often applies very well in this category.  Many people that never knew they liked cats suddenly become cat lovers overnight when a stray finds them and decides that they will be their new owner.

You should always check with your local shelter to make sure that your newfound love doesn't already belong to someone else first.  After you've done that, strays are free to acquire and cost the same as a new cat would, except for the fact that they might require a few extra shots or treatments (an example of this being flea/tick medication).



Litters

This is often a cheap way to acquire a new kitten.  Many times the family cat comes home pregnant, and her owners are not ready to handle multiple furballs.  Look for ads in newspapers, on the internet, and outside of pet stores for specifics on litters and make calls right away when you see something you're interested in.  Most times these kittens go quickly, as is the case with kittens in shelters.

When visiting a home, make sure to observe the environment.  Is it clean?  Does it look like the mother and her babies have been cared for in a proper manner?  Are the kittens clear-eyed, energetic, and have healthy-looking fur?  If not, thank the owner and move on.  If need be, report cases where dangerous conditions may exist to your local SPCA so that the animals can stand a chance at survival.

When questioning the owner about your future kitten, find out what shots he has received.  Find out if he has been tested for Feline Leukemia and other diseases.  Make sure the mother and babies are parasite free.  What happens if you cannot provide a home for the cat later on?  Would they take it back, or do they not care what happens to it (someone who does not care should not be giving away kittens)?  Go with your gut feeling when in this situation - more times than not, the owners are very responsi ble and happy to help you in any way.


Shelters

Your local animal shelter is a great place to go to acquire your new furry friend.  You can find cats of all ages, from baby kittens to older cats.  Some of these cats came from bad situations and require special care, so make sure to fully note all of the features of your new cat.

There is a fee for kittens and cats, and it varies from shelter to shelter.  The price usually ranges between $50-$100, but most time this includes their first round of shots and sometimes even the spay/neuter before or at the time of purchase, or a voucher for a later date.

Because many people are so attracted to kittens at shelters, older cats and mothers of litters are often left behind.  If you do adopt a kitten, consider adopting a second older cat that also needs a good home.  Kittens will be adopted within a few days of arriving at a shelter, while their mom and most older cats spend a much longer time there, sometimes being euthanized if not adopted within a certain time frame.


Purebreeds
Purebred cats are expensive and breeders should be researched before you conduct business with them.  Please be aware that some breeds have special needs, so if you are deciding on a purebred cat you will want to do extensive research on the breed beforehand.

Cat Fanciers provide excellent information about a number of pure breeds, as well as list books that might interest those who are fond of each breed.  All of the proceeds that come from sales through their site go directly to the Winn Feline Foundation to help fun veterinary research benefiting cat.

 

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