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Most people, when deciding they would like a new kitten in their family, start by visiting the local book-shops, library or the internet to find the breed of cat they would like and which most suits their lifestyles. Now having finally chosen the British Shorthair breed of cat the next step is to find a breeder who has the right kitten or kittens for you. This is what Best of British Shorthairs is all about – to help you find your new little furry friend.
Before we go any further, have you asked yourself the reason why you want a new kitten? If the answer is “for it to become part of the family, to be a much-loved pet for life, for the love and affection it can bring to you and the sheer enjoyment of sharing your home and life”, then all breeders will welcome you. If on the other hand you want one because “there’s one on the telly advert”, “the colour would go with your new furniture and decorations” (yes, this comment is made), “when I have been out from 8.00 am to 6.30 pm every day of the week and sometimes at week-ends, I want something to have on my knee at night”, then the majority of breeders would be cautious. Kittens and cats are living, breathing beings and should be treated as such. They need love, attention and security.
Having resolved the reasons for wanting a new kitten the question most often asked by prospective owners is “How do I know the breeder I select is reputable and what should I look for when visiting a breeder?”
Here are a few guidelines to help you.
Be prepared to travel – do not expect a pedigree kitten of your chosen colour or pattern to be available just around the corner - it doesn’t work like that. If you want a Blue, or a Silver Tabby, or a Colourpointed then that is what you want and not the nearest kitten available. If you want a British Shorthair kitten for it’s’ looks and temperament and don’t mind what colour or sex then your search could be made easier.
The first contact with the breeder is usually by telephone and this will allow you to ask all the questions you want about the litter of kittens available. It will also allow the breeder the chance to ask you questions they would like answering before deciding whether they would be prepared to home one of their kittens with you. It works both ways! If the first contact is encouraging arrange to visit the breeder to view the kittens. The earliest age at which kittens should be viewed is approximately 5 weeks of age. By then they are steady on their feet, their ears have unfurled, their eyes have fully opened and they are just adorable little fluffy bundles with a wonderful AAAHHH!!! factor. Any earlier than this there isn’t a lot to see and during the first few weeks the risk of infection being passed to the kittens from handling by strangers is very real. It must also be stressed that you should not arrange to visit more than one breeder on the same day – cross infection can be lethal. Please respect the breeder and their kittens.
The majority of kittens are indoor reared. This means that they are well adjusted to normal family noises, i.e. telephone, door-bell, visitors, television, washing machine, etc., etc. They also know what carpet, ceramic tiles, and wooden floors feel like under their feet, and by the time they come to you will have had their fair share of human contact. These kittens settle quickly in a new home as they are used to a domestic environment. Some breeders however have their mums and litters outdoors in a specially built cattery. If the breeder you visit has outside facilities such as these do not be put off as the main thing in choosing a kitten is whether that kitten is loved by its breeder and is being well socialised with lots of playing and handling. This is very important. A happy, well-socialised kitten will settle into a new home far easier than one which hasn’t been handled and had lots of company.
Initially when visiting a litter of kittens you should be looking for healthy, friendly kittens which are cobby in build, with small ears, round eyes, short stocky limbs and a thick tail. However if the first viewing cannot be arranged until around 10 weeks of age the kittens may have lost some of their roundness and will be starting to look rangy. This is a normal part of their development. They are like children and seem to grow in fits and starts. You will have to trust the breeder, listen to what they tell you about the development of their lines. Owners of British Shorthair cats have to learn to be patient as they are very slow to mature and reach their full beauty.
Kittens should be available to go to their new homes after 13 weeks of age. By then they will be fully vaccinated against cat ‘flu and enteritis (this is the minimum requirement of The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy). Some breeders will also vaccinate against leukaemia and Chlamydia. The breeder is obliged to provide a Pedigree Certificate with each kitten, usually this is a four or five-generation pedigree although G.C.C.F. only stipulates a three-generation. It is also recommended that breeders provide a feeding guide for the kitten, together with list of requirements, i.e. warm bed, litter tray, cat-stand, suitable toys (nothing with loose parts or string, or stuck-on bits). Some breeders insure the kitten for the first six weeks in its new home. Registration documents may also be provided.
The cost of kittens will vary depending on the area of the country. The Southern areas can be more expensive than the Northern areas. When purchasing a kitten do consider TWO. Obviously initially it is twice the cost (although some breeders may be prepared to reduce the price slightly) but think of the advantages. Twice the fun, twice the cuddles, some-one for the kitten to play with when you are busy, company for each other when you are out so no guilt trips on your part, and more than one cat for the family to enjoy. It really is worth seriously considering.
We hope that this has helped you in your search for your new kitten – if you need any more help, information or advice (even when you have got your new companion) please contact Best of British Shorthairs. Finally please do not forget the breeder of your kitten – they would love the occasional telephone call or photograph to let them know that all is well with the baby they reared for you.
For further cat-related information please visit the official web-site of the FELINE ADVISORY BUREAU - www.fabcats.org