How to Buy a Cat

Two Parts:Planning to BuyFinding a Cat to Buy

Buying a cat can be very exciting, but it also requires some planning. You will need to think about what kind of cat you want, as well as where you will buy it. Common places to get cats include animal shelters, pet stores, and breeders. Before bringing a cat home, you will also need to make sure you have all the supplies it needs, and that you have a good veterinarian in mind.

Part 1
Planning to Buy

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    Make sure everyone in your home is ready to get a cat. Everyone in your house might need to pitch in and help take care of the cat, so it’s a good idea to discuss your plan ahead of time.[1] If you are trying to convince your parents or someone else to let you get a cat, let them know that you will be responsible for it, and that you have done your research on how to care for it.
    • Some cats can live fifteen-twenty years or more.[2][3] Before getting a cat, make sure that you or your family is willing and able to commit to taking care of an animal for that long. For instance, if your parents let you get a cat as a kid, make sure you or someone will be able to take care of the cat if you move out later on.
    • Be prepared to spend time with your cat.[4] Cats are relatively independent, and can stand to be alone for parts of the day. However, they still need lots of attention and play time, so make sure you and/or your family can commit.
    • Be prepared to cover the costs of having a cat. Aside from the upfront costs of buying a cat and the supplies it needs, you will need to supply food, treats, shelter, toys, and vet care throughout the cat’s life.
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    Think about what kind of cat you want. There are many different kinds of cats. Some people are interested in a particular breed, such as a Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Prussian Blue, Angora, or Siamese. Mixed breed cats, however, make wonderful pets as well. You should also consider whether you want to get a cat as a kitten or one that is older.[5]
    • If you are interested in a particular breed, research it before buying one. Each breed is unique in terms of looks and behavior. Many breeds have special needs and/or are prone to medical problems, so you will also want to be prepared for these concerns.
    • Mixed-breed cats may live healthier lives, and can make very friendly and loyal pets. They are also easier to find and far less expensive than pure-bred cats of a particular breed.
    • If you bring home a kitten, you will raise it and discover its behavior along the way. If you buy or adopt an older cat, you will have a better idea of its temperament from the start.
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    Get the supplies you need.[6] Before bringing a cat home, you’ll want to make sure you have everything it needs to adjust to its new home. Items you may need to take care of your cat include:
    • A litter box and litter
    • Food and water dishes
    • A supply of food and treats
    • A scratching post
    • Toys
    • A bed or other place for the cat to sleep
    • A brush to groom your cat
    • Nail clippers or caps
    • A collar and name tag
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    Cat-proof your home. Cats are curious creatures; to prevent yours from getting into something it shouldn’t, take steps to make your home safe before you buy the animal. For instance:[7]
    • Make sure there aren’t any electrical cords that your cat can easily reach and chew on.
    • Put cleaning products, poisons, and medications in a place your cat can’t reach.
    • Keep your cat away from any toxic houseplants.
    • Make sure your cat will have a quiet and safe place to rest.
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    Plan to visit a veterinarian. Once you have your cat, you will need to take it to a vet as soon as possible so that it can have its general health assessed, and receive any vaccines or other care it may need. If the cat is over four months old, it can also be neutered.[8]
    • You can find out about good vets in your area by asking animal shelters and other cat owners for recommendations, as well as researching them online.
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    Consider getting pet insurance.[9] Pet insurance policies usually don’t cover routine shots (which owners should get anyway), but getting a policy can save you from worrying about being able to cover the costs if the cat ever becomes sick or injured.

Part 2
Finding a Cat to Buy

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    Consider getting a cat from an animal shelter.[10][11] Your local animal shelter probably has many excellent cats who are in need of a good home, and most animal societies will suggest this as the first place to start looking for a cat. Shelters usually have a large variety of cats to choose from, so they are a good option if you can’t decide beforehand which kind you want.
    • Animal shelters usually charge a small adoption fee as well as a fee to cover the cost of spaying/neutering and vaccinations.
    • You can also adopt an older cat from a shelter, if you want. That way you will already know something about its temperament—for example, if it is ready to live with children, how playful it is, if it is house trained, etc.
    • Many animal shelters allow you to preview available cats online ahead of time. Always see the cat in person before you decide to take it home, however.
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    Look for cats available from rescue groups.[12] Much like animal shelters, cat rescue groups have many felines ready to find good homes. These groups place the cats in foster homes until permanent owners (such as you) can be found. You can look online to see if such a group is available in your area.
    • Cat rescue groups may charge a small adoption fee as well as a fee to cover the cost of spaying/neutering and vaccinations.
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    Research local pet stores.[13] Some pet stores may sell kittens. Many, however, work with animal shelters to help rescued cats find new homes.
    • Some pet stores hold regular adoption fairs, connecting cats with potential owners. These are also opportunities to find out more about caring for cats, finding a good vet, etc.
    • In addition to the cost of the cat, pet stores may charge fees for spaying/neutering and vaccinations.
    • If you want to buy a purebred cat or kitten from a store, make sure that it is not from a “kitten mill” that practices irresponsible breeding. Make sure that you can find out who the cat’s breeder is and how the cat was cared for. Many pet stores may not sell purebred cats at all because cat associations prefer breeders to sell their felines directly.[14]
    • Pet stores focus on selling, so they may or may not not give you good information about caring for the the cat long-term.
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    Choose a reputable breeder if you want a purebred cat.[15] If you are certain that you want a particular breed of cat, your best choice is a good breeder. Do research on cat breeders in your area ahead of time. Your local animal association should have a list of reputable breeders.[16]
    • Be prepared to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a purebred cat.
    • Reputable breeders will be able to supply you with copies of pedigree papers and veterinarian records.[17] These will show that the cat has been fully vaccinated and treated for worms and fleas.
    • Ask when the kitten was born, how old its mother is, and how many litters she has had.
    • Visit the place where the kitten was born, and make sure it is clean and safe, free from odors, and that there is room for the kittens to play and get exercise.
    • Breeders may ask you to spay/neuter the cat as a condition of ownership.[18]
    • Use good judgment: if any breeder does not want to share information with you, or if you see signs that the breeder is not taking good care of the cats, seek another one.
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    Be wary of free kittens.[19] It is often relatively easy to find offers of “free kittens” or “kittens free to a good home” online, on community bulletin boards, advertised in newspapers, etc. These kittens may not have been to a vet, so even if one is initially “free,” you will still be paying for it if you want to take good care of the cat. If you take a free kitten home, have a vet inspect it as soon as possible to make sure it is good health, has any vaccinations it needs, and is ready to be spayed or neutered.
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    Inspect a kitten carefully before you buy it.[20] Cats purchased from breeders should be in excellent health. Most cats offered for adoption at animal shelters or other locations are also in very good health. If you are willing to take care of an animal with a health problem, animal shelters will help you understand its needs. In all cases, you should see the cat before you agree to buy it and bring it home.
    • Gently feel the cat’s ribs. Healthy cats will have some fat covering them.
    • The kitten’s fur should be smooth and shiny, and its eyes and ears should be clean, with no signs of discharge.
    • Notice how the cat reacts to people; it should not hiss or back away from people. Good breeders will make sure that their kittens have good temperaments and are well-socialized. Animal shelters should be able to give you tips on a particular cat's behavior.
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    Expect questions from an animal shelter or breeder.[21] Before letting you take a cat home, good breeders or animal shelters will want to make sure that you are prepared to take care of it. Questions they might ask you include:
    • Do you have other animals? If so, how will they react to a new kitten?
    • How often will the kitten be left on its own, and for how long?
    • What kind of space will the animal have access to? How will it be protected from traffic, other animals, getting lost, etc.?
    • Who will be the kitten’s vet?
    • What are your plans if the kitten does not adjust to your home? (Good breeders, many pet stores, and some shelters will offer to take back a kitten within a certain time frame if things do not work out.)

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Categories: Getting a Cat