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Kittens: The Purrr-fect Pet?

The hamsters have croaked, the fish went belly-up, and the hermit crab was just kind of gross. Is a cat the right pet for your family? Veterinarian Ilona Rodan gives the 411:

Best cats for kids

The tabbies and calicoes you can find at an animal shelter or a farmers market are usually fine. More important than a fancy breed is the cat's temperament, so if you can, ask the kitten's owner if the parents are gentle. Make sure a kitten is at least 9 weeks old and weaned from his mother, but don't rule out an older cat, either-the shelters are often full of them. Older cats tend to be calmer, so they may be better for a family with toddlers.

Medical-care concerns

You'll need to take Fluffy to the vet two or three times in the first year; cats need a rabies vaccine and booster shots, and you may want to have your pet spayed or neutered. The vet can also give you tips on how to train your kitty and clip his nails. 

Cat-food facts

Wet cat food costs a bit more but is ideal because it's most like the mouse diet he'd have in the wild. You can alternate it with dry kibble, too.

Playtime pointers

Kittens will sleep frequently, but they also need lots of playtime. Let yours nap when he's tired (he's growing!), but join in when he's frisky and racing about. See below for some good cat toys. Though a ball of yarn seems like a classic, it's best not to leave your cat alone with any kind of string -- it can get caught in his throat and intestine.

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