Where To Buy Your Cat?
Choose Wisely and Live Healthy and Happily Ever After
Once you've identified the type of cat that you want to welcome into your heart and home, you need to decide where you'll look for your new fluffy friend. While the choices aren't endless, they can still be somewhat overwhelming. We'll give you a few pointers for pursuing each of the main options.
Buying from a Breeder
If you're on a mission to locate a pedigree cat breed, whether for breeding, showing, or companionship purposes, your search will probably take you in a very specific direction. To locate a source for the cat breed of your choice, you can attend cat shows, consult with your vet, search online for cat breed organizations, and/or look in various cat magazines.
When dealing with a cat breeder, it's always a good idea to pay them a visit, regardless of how far away they're located, and be sure to ask for references. If the conditions that the cats are living in give you ANY cause for concern, don't hesitate to end your discussions with that specific breeder. It's not just a question of cleanliness, but also a matter of the overall health of every cat on the premises and the interactions of the breeder with the animals.
A "good breeder" will ask you just as many questions as you ask them. They make it clear that their bottom line isn't about making money; it's about making sure that their felines are going to quality, caring homes.
Even if you're impressed with the breeder and their breeding facilities, you should still have a pre-purchase exam conducted by a veterinarian of your choice on the cat of your choice. Again, a good breeder who has nothing to hide and who wants you to be satisfied will have no qualms with such a request.
Purchasing from a Pet Store
So much has already been said in the form of a warning when it comes to purchasing an animal at a pet store. What can we possibly add to the discussion? Perhaps we can be fair and simply state that not all pet stores are selling poorly bred, unhealthy and/or "misused" animals. Suffice it to say, when choosing to deal with a retail pet center, you should use the same amount of discretion and caution as you do when dealing with a pedigree cat breeder or any other person or organization that's selling or giving away cats. Enough said.
Acquiring from an Animal Shelter
The term "animal shelter" means more today than it did just a few years ago. A number of pet rescue groups, other than the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), have "sprouted up" over the years. Some groups focus their efforts on selected breeds and/or animal species. Whether or not you manage to locate a rescue group in your local area, more than likely there's at least one "traditional" animal shelter somewhere in your general vicinity.
Many animal shelters and/or rescue groups "advertise" on the internet the pets that they have available for adoption. A good starting point for your online animal shelter cat search is www.petfinder.org. Here you can search by breed, age, size, gender, and location for specific pets; many of the animals actually have a page dedicated to them that provides their background information, current status, and a photograph.
Inquiring with Individuals
The "Pets for Sale" section of the classified ads in many newspapers often feature dozens of listings for either free cats or reasonably priced ones. The bulletin boards in veterinarian offices and other community boards also often have numerous fliers posted for the cheap acquisition of a cat.
Don't overlook this source. Not all of these cats are strays with an unknown background; a large number of them are kittens born to adult cats that have been lovingly cared for. Many of the individuals you deal with will truly have the best interest of the cat in mind, as few would take the time to post such ads otherwise. Again, request permission to have a pre-purchase exam conducted on the cat and only deal with those who willingly give their consent.
Selecting a Stray (or is the stray selecting you?)
Sometimes you don't have to buy a cat. Sometimes a cat chooses you. Sometimes you get lucky and hear via the grapevine that a friend or neighbor has an uninvited guest that has chosen to overextend its stay. Sometimes these cats are in the greatest need of love and attention.
If your idea of owning a cat is all about opening your world up to the arrival of a fuzzy companion that's in need, then welcoming a stray into your home is a very realistic option. A word of warning though as the medical records and/or health condition of these critters is unknown…prior to bringing them into your home or allowing them to intermingle with your other animals, you would be wise to have the cat thoroughly examined by a veterinarian.
Signing on the Dotted Line
Once you decide where you're going to purchase your new puss, get as much of the details in writing as you possibly can. Consider requiring a purchase agreement that allows the cat to be returned should it be deemed unhealthy within a specified time-period. Clearly state payment terms and transfers of health and registration records, as well as make sure that you understand the requirements that are being made of you, such as medical "follow-ups" including vaccinations and spaying/neutering.
Even if you acquire the cat free, it's a good idea to have a letter written that states when and how you obtained the cat. This avoids any future problems from arising whereby you might be accused of improperly acquiring the kitty. Sounds farfetched we know, but it could happen. Better safe than sorry.
As is the case with each step associated with obtaining a new pet, take your time and promise yourself that you won't take home the first cat that you set eyes on. Maybe that cat will be the one that you eventually decide to open your heart up to, but give yourself the opportunity to look around a little. The right cat is worth the search as well as the wait.
Keeping Your Pets
Happy and Healthy,