As the kittens' eyes are opening and they begin to move around, the breeder will be able to tell temperament differences. Keep track of the differences, as it will be helpful when placing kittens in new homes. Note which one is outgoing and inquisitive versus the one that is quiet and reserved. Watch the kittens at various times during the day, as their temperament will appear different depending if it is time for eating, playing, or sleeping.
Interactions between kittens and prospective owners
Breeders should know each kitten and have an idea what type of home is best for her. When people are looking at the kitttens, guide them to the kittens with the appropriate temperaments for that household. If the prospective owners live close enough, they may like to visit with the kittens several times before deciding on a kitten.
When people come to visit the kittens, the breeder should be grading the prospective owner at the same time the prospective owner is grading the breeder and kittens. The kittens should be ready to go to their new homes at 8-9 weeks of age.
When the prospective owners come to visit, make sure the entire family comes. The breeder should see how all the children interact with each other and their parents. If the children are unruly, chances are a kitten raised in the household will be more at risk of injury.
Questions to ask prospective owners
Breeders should interview the prospective owner regarding, but not limited to, the following:
Have you had pets previously? When? What species and breed? What happened to the pet(s)?
What do you plan to do with the kitten? Pet? Show?
What hours will someone be home? Kittens may not need as much work as puppies, but they still need attention.
Will the kitten stay inside or go outside? Supervised or free-roaming?
Does the prospective owner agree to the terms of the contract including the spay/neuter clause on pet quality kittens?
Knowledge about the breed's characteristics? Size? Activity level? Amount of 'talking' the breed does?
With few exceptions, no kitten should be seen, bought, and taken home on the same visit. The breeder and the prospective owner need time to judge each other. This may be done over the phone, but the questions need to be asked to ensure a safe, loving home for each kitten. Impulse buyers rarely have thought through what a kitten needs over the next 15-20 years. People need to be aware of the time, energy, and expense bringing a living animal into a home requires.
Questions to ask the breeder
The prospective owners should ask the breeder:
How are the parents with people and other animals? The personality of the queen and tom should be a big consideration in choosing a kitten.
Have the parents been shown? What titles have they earned?
Are there pictures of the sire if he is not on the premises?
What is the temperament of the queen? Meet and interact with the queen. If she is shy or aggressive, chances are the kittens will be too. Watch how the dam and kittens interact.
If other cats are on the premises, are they friendly and outgoing or shy and reserved?
Which clearances do the parents and grandparents have? What about previous litters from these or related cats. Necessary clearances may vary between breeds, discuss them with your veterinarian before choosing a breed and breeder.
Have the kittens received a health exam from the veterinarian or when will they? Any health problems found? What type of treatment is needed for any health problems?
What type of guarantee does the litter have? What does the guarantee mean? If the kitten is guaranteed against a specific disease, does it mean the kitten goes back to the breeder and the owner takes a new kitten? Remember, diseases may not show up for two or more years. Does the owner get a new kitten and keep the first? Purchase price refunded? Do you get another kitten from a future litter and how will you know that kitten will be any healthier?
What is the price? Show quality kittens may be higher priced than the pet quality. Who determined which are show quality?
The breeder cannot tell how each kitten will mature, but they can do everything in their power to raise and sell healthy, socialized kittens.
The contract should state which kitten you have agreed to purchase, date of birth, the price, registration names and numbers of both parents, date of sale, breeder's name, address, and phone number, and buyer's name, address, and phone number.
It should state when the registration forms will be sent to you. The date or age by which the kitten needs to be spayed/neutered should be in the contract.
Some breeders will not allow kittens to be declawed. Some breeders will only sell to homes where the kitten will be kept in the house and never allowed outside.
Any guarantees should be in writing. If a genetically-passed medical condition shows up in 6 months or 2 years, what happens? Is the purchase price refunded to help offset the cost of surgery? Is the kitten to be returned to the breeder? Is another kitten given to the owner and they keep the first kitten? Know what the guarantee means and the time limit on it. Know what diseases are covered: feline leukemia, ringworm, genetic conditions of the eye, heart, or kidney, etc.
Kittens should be examined by the new owner's veterinarian within 48-72 hours of purchase. This ensures that a kitten is healthy to start. The contract should state the timing of this exam and that a kitten found to be ill or defective is returnable for a full refund.
The contract should also state that if the owner at any time or for any reason is unable to keep this kitten, the breeder gets the first chance at taking the kitten back. The purchase price may or may not be refunded - read the contract. The breeder then will see if the kitten/cat is able to be placed in another home and find her a new home. The breeder is as responsible as the new owner for each kitten for her entire life.
The contract or the health record should state what schedule the breeder uses for vaccinations and deworming. Each veterinarian may have a slightly different schedule, but the buyer should be aware that more medical care is necessary at this age. Current feeding amounts and times should also be written out. A 2-3 day supply of food should be sent home. A toy or towel that has been with the litter and carries the litter's smell may help ease the transition to a single kitten.
There should be a place for the signatures of both parties involved and the date signed.
One to two days after the kittens go to their new home, the breeder should call to see if there are any problems. Many times problems arise that, with help, are easily handled before they spin out of control.