Choosing the Purr-fect Cat
So, you’ve decided that it’s time to get a cat. Get ready for a new relationship that will give you years of love and companionship. But, also keep in mind that you’ll be making a commitment that will last the lifetime of the cat—perhaps 10, 15, or 20 years. Make some initial decisions based on why you want a cat in the first place. Do you like cat shows and want a purebred breed cat who’s going to win awards and enjoy showing off in front of judges? Are you replacing a cat that died of old age, or are you looking for a cat that is visually different and easily recognizable? How large is your home? What’s your budget? What are your habits?
Take some time to do research about the different types of cats and discover which will be your perfect pet for your living situation. There are currently 39 types of purebred cats recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association, as well as a wide variety of mixed-breed cats. Almost all cat breeds are very similar in temperament, some are just a little friendlier than others. Even though cat behavioral traits do not vary as widely as those of dogs, each cat is definitely an individual—just ask anyone who has a feline companion or two! You won’t have to worry about picking the right cat for the job either – since cats don’t work (except for that one that plays the piano on YouTube). And, unlike dog breeds, cats are almost all basically the same shape; some are just a little bigger, fluffier, or more colorful than others. However, different breeds do have some specific characteristics, appearances, and needs. For example, Persians are more lovey-dovey lap cats, but require regular grooming to keep their long hair from matting. Siamese cats tend to be vocal, and are often one-person cats that will choose to get attached to their one person with absolute devotion. Maine Coons are big, relaxed gentle giants that will follow you around and generally appreciate affection from anyone.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, where do you find the cat of your dreams? Purebred cats can be purchased from breeders or adopted from a breed-specific rescue group. Sometimes you may even find a purebred cat at an animal shelter. Mixed breeds cats are abundant at shelters and rescue groups. Mixed breed cats are far more common than the purebreds, and are considerably less expensive to obtain. The experience you’ll have when visiting each of the sources for your new cat will vary greatly. Visit the breeder or animal shelter and take your time playing with all the cats or kittens that interest you. Watch how they behave with the other cats in the breeder’s home or the shelter when you’re a few feet away and not paying attention to them.
Kitten or mature cat?
While kittens may be adorable, they do require a lot of work and attention. They need to be litter-box trained, and can often be very needy, energetic and the source of lots of rowdy trouble with their tendency for clawing and destroying things around your house and jumping on you with teeny tiny needle sharp claws! Their tiny size also is a consideration. Kittens are delicate and more easily injured or harmed, especially if there are any rambunctious children or other pets living in your household. The advantage of raising a kitten is that you will influence the cat enormously just as you would by raising a child. Firm boundaries and plenty of attention and affection will help your kitten grow into a healthy, affectionate cat that has good habits – especially in relation to your life.
If you do not have several hours a day to devote to interacting with a kitten while it grows up, consider getting an adult cat. Older cats tend to be more relaxed and emotionally self sufficient and are more aware of their surroundings and less likely to get into trouble. They are usually litter box trained, easier to get on a regular feeding schedule, and are sturdier and better able to escape danger. Older cats may be set in their ways, and have personalities that developed in conjunction with their last owner. However, cats are very adaptable and most will adjust very quickly to new environments and people.