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Buying a kitten

Advice and guidance if you're buying a kitten

Who requires a licence

Not all people selling kittens will require a licence. They may not earn enough or meet the requirements under the business test.

But some pedigree breeds carry a larger price tag, so they're more likely to need to be sold by a licensed breeder. If a licence is required, it will be issued to the applicant as a pet shop licence. The licence should be displayed at the premises used for the licensable activity. The number should also be advertised on any advert, website or Facebook page.

You can find out further information in the DEFRA selling animals as pets guidance booklet.

What to consider

When buying a kitten ask if it's been socialised with:

  • people
  • it's own species
  • other animals

And has it been exposed to noises and activities it's likely to experience when you take it home?

If the kitten is being sold from where it was bred, ask to see them interacting with the mother.

The licence holder should provide information on the appropriate care of the animal, specific to its breed, including:

  • feeding
  • housing
  • handling
  • husbandry
  • life expectancy 

You should:

  • ask for veterinary records, and check the kitten been vaccinated
  • ask for records of any worming and flea treatments received
  • check whether the parents have been tested for any hereditary diseases
  • ask what food the kitten has been eating and what litter it is used too

No kitten can be homed before eight weeks of age. Kittens for sale in a pet shop where they were not bred must be over eight weeks of age.

Please be aware, kittens are of reproductive age from four months old. So, their neutering should be considered.

Does the kitten look healthy?

Looking out for the following:

  • ears - there should be no dirt or debris
  • coat - it should be clean and free from parasites, the skin should not look sore and the kitten shouldn't be scratching excessively
  • movement problems - the kitten should be agile and move freely once it's eight weeks old
  • eyes - they should be clean and bright with no watery or coloured discharge
  • nose - it should be clean with no discharge
  • tail - is the area under the tail clean? An upset stomach may cause this area to look sore or red
  • temperament - is the kitten bright and lively? A kitten which seems depressed or lethargic may not be well

Lucy's Law

If your chosen cat doesn't originate from the place of purchase, ask where it came from and try to obtain previous history.

Please note, from April 2020, a new law called Lucy’s Law means that kittens under 6 months of age can only be sold from where they were bred.