Spring means that kitten season is here…the time when local shelters and rescue groups are overflowing with litters of adoptable kittens in need of their forever homes. Tempted to adopt a homeless kitten yourself? Sometimes our hearts go out to the weak, sickly ones, but before you rescue the runt of the litter, make sure that you are prepared for the costs and commitments of necessary veterinary care and medications. Here are some things to check, to make sure the kitten you pick is healthy.
1. Nose. The kitten’s nose should not have any discharge coming out of it or crust on the outside. A healthy kitten’s nose should be cool and moist but not too wet.
2. Ears. The ears should be clean and the kitten should not be scratching them or shaking her head, which are signs of ear mites. Black specks that look like coffee grounds in the ears are also a sign of mites.
3. Eyes. The eyes should be clear and bright and free of discharge and redness. If the third eyelid is showing or swollen in one or both eyes, this could be a sign of illness, infection, or injury.
4. Mouth. The kitten’s gums should be pale pink (although some cats can have dark gums, depending on their coloring). Bad breath, salivation, and pawing at the mouth could indicate problems.
5. Stomach. The abdomen in a healthy kitten should be slightly round. A potbelly can be a sign of worms, obstruction, or (worst of all) feline infections peritonitis (FIP), a fatal disease.
6. Fur. A kitten’s fur is a good indicator of health. It should be glossy, not dull, with no bald patches. Check for signs of fleas, like excessing scratching and specks of flea dirt.
7. Private parts. The rear should be clean, with no evidence of diarrhea or parasites. The genitals should be free of discharge.
- Aaron Seminoff