After much deliberation, you’ve narrowed your choice of pet down to a cat. Congratulations! What kind of things need to be considered before taking the plunge and picking the perfect cat match for you? It is important to remember first of all that taking on a kitty is an investment of some 12 – 20 years. If you can’t make that commitment, then you shouldn’t get a cat. Shelters and rescues are full of cats whose families did not live up to the commitment of a forever home. Instead, consider volunteering at a local shelter or rescue to get your cat snuggles.
The variety of breeds or types of cats is not as diverse as dogs, but there are still five important things to consider when deciding what type of cat you want.
Where will your cat spend its time?
You will need to provide stimulation for an indoor kitty and cats who get outside time need to have it provided in a responsible way with an enclosure or even walks on a harness.
Purebred? Or everyday house cat?
Some behavioural traits are more predictable with a purebred, but so too are hereditary health problems.
If you decide you would like a purebred, do your research to make sure you understand the personalities associated with each breed.
For example, Siamese tend to be very vocal and Bengals are water lovers who are extremely busy by nature, but both could be called ‘velcro cats’ who want to spend every waking moment with you. Ragdolls and Maine Coons are typically laid back, and beautiful Persians tend to be sweet and gentle and quieter in nature. Abyssinians are lively, inquisitive and fun-loving while American Shorthairs are moderate in every way.
Kitten, Adult Cat or Senior Cat?
Are you prepared for the antics of a kitten or would a more sedate older cat suit your lifestyle better? Kittens are cute, playful and high maintenance in the early years, whereas an older cat will already be litter trained, less demanding on your time, and more content to just hang out with you on the couch.
Long-haired or short-haired? Or no-haired?
Both long- and short-haired cats will shed, but long-haired cats will need to be groomed regularly to avoid matting. Short-haired cats will still shed, but the effect on your house will be less noticeable. Hairless cats will likely need extra care.
Do not assume that a hairless cat means hypoallergenic as it is a protein which triggers allergies to cats, not the hair itself.
Hairless cats, such as the Sphynx, have difficulty retaining body heat so may be unsuitable for colder climates or need to wear a sweater in the winter. And if you think hairless cats mean less maintenance, think again. Since there is no hair to absorb the natural oils of these kitties, they need bathing on a regular basis, and may require other types of skin care.
Adopt or foster?
If you opt to adopt, let the shelter or rescue staff be your guide to finding the best kitty for you and your life. After fostering cats, often for a long time, they have a pretty good idea of the kind of personalities they are dealing with and will be able to match you up with the kitty of your dreams.
Do your research
Once you have the above questions answered, you can start matching your answers to the available kittens/cats in your area. Let shelter staff, rescue staff or breeders know what you are looking for, and they should be able to help in picking the perfect cat match for you.
Whatever type of cat you decide on, you know that you will have up to 20 years or so of purring affection and devotion. So, enjoy!
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