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Where Should You Buy or Adopt a Kitten? Facts & FAQ

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

bunch of tabby kittens

Where Should You Buy or Adopt a Kitten? Facts & FAQ

So, you have made a big decision in your family’s life. You have decided to add a kitten to your family! This is exciting news, but where should you get your kitten from? Adoption agencies, breeders, and pet stores all offer kittens for adoption or sale. There are some important considerations to make, though, before rushing in to get a kitten. We, of course, want to make the most ethical decision when choosing our new family member.

What makes an adoption agency, breeder, or pet store a good place to get a kitten though? It is important to investigate and ask lots of questions when choosing where to get your kitten. Read below to see what to look out for from each of these organizations.

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Buying from a Breeder


British Shorthair kittens_Eric Isselee_shutterstock
Image Credit: Eric Isseelee, Shutterstock

If you decide to purchase your kitten from a breeder, you want to ensure that they practice ethical breeding methods. While you have probably heard the term “puppy mill”, there are also “kitten mills” out there that similarly abuse their animals.

Kitten mills are usually large operations that churn out lots of kittens per year. The parent cats are kept in small cages and are not socialized or played with. These conditions can be filthy and inhumane to the animals. Sometimes these cats are kept in wire cages with nothing to cushion their feet, resulting in pain and sores. Buying from a kitten mill allows these animals to suffer by funding this endless cycle, as their services are paid for.

So, what can you do to ensure your breeder is not a kitten mill and is practicing safe breeding methods?

  • Ask what health tests have been done on the parents. Purebred cats can often have congenital issues and a reputable breeder will have tested the parents to make sure that they do not carry the genes to any known common issues.
  • Visit the breeder and ask for a tour of where the cats are kept. A breeder with nothing to hide will be happy to show you where the cats are kept. They should be kept in a clean and safe area and have frequent interaction with their human caretakers.
  • Ask when they separate kittens from their mother. Kittens need the socialization of their littermates and the guidance of their mothers to thrive. If a kitten is taken away too early, there can be lifelong consequences. A breeder should keep the mother and kittens together for at least 10 weeks.
  • Has there been a veterinarian examination? A good breeder will make sure that kittens are vaccinated and in good health before sending them to their new homes. If kittens have never been seen by a vet or vaccinated, this could be a warning sign.
  • Ask to interact with the mother. A mother’s cat socialization, health, and general demeanor are very important and have a very profound impact on the litter’s health, sociability, and trainability. Kittens learn a lot from their mothers, and if the mother seems wary of humans, unwell, and unkempt, it could hint at potential issues with the kittens too. Mother cats can also pass on diseases and parasites to their kittens, so you should have a look at her vaccination and health records. You should also look at her previous mating history as this can offer clues into how the breeder manages the cat.
  • Reach out to other clients. Reach out to other clients of the breeder, if possible, and ask them about their experience with the breeder. This can give you an insight into how the breeder has treated customers and their animals in the past.

Your local veterinarian will likely have recommendations for breeders that they trust. You can also look online at reputable sources to find an ethical breeder near you.

Pet Stores

four kittens in a cage pet store
Image Credit: Ashley Swanson, Shutterstock

Depending on the state or city you live in, some pet stores are required to only have pets available from a shelter or rescue organization. Other pet stores will have pets that have been purchased from a breeder or even, unfortunately, kitten mills.

The most important question to ask a pet store is where they source their kittens from. If they do not have all the information, you should steer clear of them. If they can tell you a specific breeder they purchase from, you should do the same research above of that breeder to ensure they are reputable.

Shelters & Rescue Organizations

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 6-8 million animals end up in shelters every single year. That’s a lot of cats and dogs! These animals all need homes and you could be the person to provide a home to one of these kittens in need.

You can research a local shelter or rescue organization in your area. There are even websites that allow you to search for a specific color or breed of kitten that is available to adopt through various rescues and shelters.

If your heart is set on having a purebred kitten, there are breed-specific rescues out there that you can also adopt from. Many have an application process and waitlist, so reach out to the rescue you have in mind as soon as you can to help start the process.

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How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Kitten?

kittens in animal shelter
Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

The fee for adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue will typically be much less than the fee for purchasing a pet from a breeder. Be sure to ask what all is included in your adoption fee, such as desexing surgery, vaccinations, flea medication, and a microchip. It could be a red flag if these things are not provided to a kitten before being adopted.

You should also ensure that a proper veterinarian examination has been performed. If you already have other animals at home, it is even more important to ensure that your new kitten is healthy before bringing them home.

Adopting from a rescue or shelter allows that organization to save another kitten. You will be helping save lives by adopting. Consider your local rescues and shelters if you are ready to add a kitten to your family.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, the most important aspect of choosing where to get your kitten from is making sure that they are practicing ethical behaviors. You want your kitten to be treated well in addition to their parents being treated well. No one wants to help animals suffer, so researching your options before you buy or adopt is crucial.

Featured Image Credit by: ChocoPie, Shutterstock

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