1. Stop looking at kittens. The worst way for a newbie to pick a kitten is from the kitten itself. You have no experience with how that kitten will develop and change, and unless the breeder has worked with the line for multiple generations, he, too, likely does not really know how the kitten will develop.
2. Pick one to three traits to focus on. It is not enough to simply desire a cat that meets the standard. The standard is broad and vague, purposely so. So yes, read the standard, understand the standard, but then figure out what specific structural traits you want to focus on in your cattery. The more specific you are the better. Don’t think in terms of focusing on the head; think in terms of focusing on the ears - or the eyes - or the nose - or the whisker pads - or the chin. Don’t focus on the body; focus on the boning, the higher rear end, the tail, the knuckling of the feet, the length, the depth.
3. Fully understand what exceptional examples of your three selected traits look like. Once you have selected your one to three traits to focus on, go and see what those traits look like on semi-tree dwelling small wildcats (Asian Leopard cat, Margay, Rusty Spotted cat, Geoffroy's cat, etc). See how your traits are similar on those cats. This is the extreme, exceptional, futuristic-like model that you want to work towards - even if it is never achieved.
4. Google the terms that are used to describe the traits you are focusing on. Find pictures of cats that breeders have said are good examples of these traits, but do not take the breeder’s word that the cat is a good example. Look at lots and lots of “good” examples. Compare them to what that trait looks like in the extreme model of the semi tree-dwelling wildcats. Then YOU decide which cats are good examples of your one to three traits.
5. Now you are ready to start shopping, but, do not look at kittens. First look for catteries that consistently produce quality cats that exhibit your selected traits. If you can find a cattery that has cats that demonstrate your traits with consistency, look no further, as long as the health, the breeder, and the temperament quality, buy your cat there. Be patient if nothing is available. Wait, the right kitten will come.
If you cannot find a cattery that consistently produces the traits you are focusing on, then look for a potential pairing that has your traits. Find a male and a female within a cattery that have your traits. Ask when those two cats will be paired - and wait.
6. Finally when kittens have been born from a previously selected pairing or cattery, now you can look at kittens. If you’ve followed the steps above, all the kittens should be exceptional in your selected traits. At this point in time, ask your mentor to help you pick the kitten that best meets the standard in the areas that are not your selected traits, but you should be the expert, the most knowledgeable, the one your mentor turns to for your one to three small traits that you have decide to focus on.
The key is the narrowed focus. If you don’t narrow your focus down to the smallest elements of the cat, this model will not help you be successful.