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blog – Can you Know who that Kitten will be?

choosing the right kitten

Science reduces the Guesswork

You’ve decided to adopt a kitten and you’ve been a careful, detached observer of a litter. You’re chafing at the bit, just itching to snuggle and cuddle those fuzzy little cuties. OK, it’s time to get physical but remain objective just a little longer. You really want the right cat for the next 18 years.

Quietly let each baby sit in your hands. Is he relaxed? Anxious, restless kittens are unlikely to relate well in social situations. Now put the kitten on the ground and walk away. Does he follow? When you stop does he stay relaxed and explore his surroundings? (A good sign)

A kitten with her head up and her back straight is relaxed. A straight-out tail means a cool cat. A kitten who struts around with straight rear legs and a high rump may become a take-charge cat. Do you want a cat who tells you where to go? If so, this could be your new boss. Not my type though.

Belly up is a posture that I hope does not describe my retirement funds. A kitten who rolls on its back believes that she may be facing an imminent conflict. She’ll fight only if pushed but would prefer to run away. This is not a relaxed pose. Kittens who arch their backs are ready to rumble. This posture does not represent the warm and fuzzy emotional state some of us want.

Purring would seem like an obvious plus but there are two kinds; contented purring is good but many kittens purr in a slightly different way when anxious. Watch carefully for other signs of tension. A meow is actually more reliable. If a relaxed kitten meows when you hold her you might have a winner.

Timid kittens can make fine pets but may remain aloof throughout their lives. If she doesn’t play with her siblings she’ll be unlikely to be a player at home. A kitten who plays roughly with his homies, on the other hand, is almost sure to treat you the same way.

There’s more. Go to my website,, for the full article on Choosing the Greatest Kitten for Your Life.


Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.