Congratulations! You’ve decided to get a cat. But what kind is best for you? Should you get a pedigree cat? A long-haired cat, or a short-haired one? Male or female? You may even be wondering if you should get two or more cats, just to double or triple your fun, or to make sure they’ll never be lonely.
Here are a few tips to help you make your choice:
Pedigree or non-pedigree?
One thing’s for certain – you’ve got lots of cats to choose from. There are between 40–80 breeds of cat, in about 500 varieties. And they’re all different – from the popular Siamese, Burmese and Persian breeds, to the tail-less Manx or the hairless Canadian Sphinx. As well as looking different to each other, each breed has its own personality and temperament. For example, Siamese cats are quite extrovert, whereas long-haired Persians are usually more laid back.
There are lots of ways to check out all the different breeds. Try our Whiskas Breed Selector to find the most suitable breed for your lifestyle. You can browse the web or buy a book too, but it’s also a good idea to visit a cat show – although you'll see so many incredible, adorable cats that you'll want to take them all home with you!
However, breeds aren’t everything – in fact, the majority of people don't choose a pedigree cat at all. For most cat owners, a moggy is the perfect answer. Non-pedigree cats come in a huge variety of different colours and coat types – and buying one won't break the bank!
Long or short hair?
Long-haired cats look beautiful. But remember – a long-haired cat will need grooming daily to keep that gorgeous coat tangle-free and in good condition. On the plus side, a regular brushing routine is a great way to bond with your cat – and she’ll love the attention! If you don’t think you’ll have time to brush your cat every day, a short-haired cat might be a better choice.
Male or female?
Male cats are usually bigger than females. If you don’t get your male cat neutered, he may prowl the neighbourhood getting into fights with other cats. He might also mark his territory by spraying his urine, or by leaving his dirt unburied. This is perfectly normal behaviour for your cat, but rather unpleasant for you!
If you have a unneutered female cat, she’ll come into season regularly. While she’s in heat, she’ll probably make a lot of noise – which any male cats will find very attractive! And, of course, there’s a good chance she’ll become pregnant.
If you don’t want to hear the pattering of tiny kitten paws, it's best to have your cat neutered. It’s a simple procedure, and afterwards you’ll find that some of that unwanted behaviour simply stops.
One cat or more?
This can be a tricky decision – and really it depends on the individual cat. Some cats like to live with other cats, while others would rather spend time alone – or with you! If you already have an adult cat, you probably have a good idea of what she prefers.
If you’re out of the house for a lot of the day, you may want to get two or more cats – that way they can keep each other company. If so, think about getting cats from the same litter – the bonds they formed as kittens will help them get along well as adults.
It’s also a good idea to think about how big your home is. Just like people, cats don't like to feel overcrowded – each one needs her own space. As a general rule, you should have at least one room for every cat you have. That way, each cat has her own space to retreat to if she wants to be alone. You’ll probably need separate food and water bowls, beds and litter trays for each cat, to satisfy their independent spirits.
Where to get your cat
Once you've decided to get a cat, ask around your friends and neighbours. Someone you know might have a cat or kittens for sale, or know of someone who does. Otherwise try your local newspaper or search online. You might also choose to visit a local animal welfare shelter or charity – both will have lots of cats and kittens desperately in need of a good home.
It’s best to avoid dealers, who often buy kittens from several different sources. Such kittens might have been weaned too early, or may have travelled long distances, and will be at greater risk from disease and stress-induced illness. If you are considering buying from a dealer, ask your vet for advice first, as you can’t be sure about the cat’s history and health.
If you've decided to buy a pedigree kitten, the best thing is to go to a reputable breeder. You’ll find one by talking to other cat owners or to your vet. You can also look for ads in newspapers and cat magazines, or by visiting cat shows. Breed clubs will also be able to put you in touch with reputable breeders in your area.
What to look for in a kitten
If possible, ask to see the kittens with their mother. That way, you can check out the mother's general health and temperament. While she may not be in tip-top condition as a result of looking after her babies, you can at least make sure the kittens haven't been prematurely weaned or brought in from somewhere else.
It's best to wait until your kitten is at least 7–8 weeks old before you take her from her mother. Some breeders of pedigree cats like to keep kittens until they’re 12 weeks old. It’s helpful to shop around – even with cats! – so try to see a number of different litters before you make your decision. Only buy from premises where everything is clean, and where the cats seem to be happy and in good condition.