Selecting the Purr-fect Cat!

Cats make purr-fect pets. They are clean and independent but also playful, loving, furry and cuddly.

However, the personality and physical attributes of cats differ widely between breeds, and you need to consider this when choosing a cat to suit your home.

Purebred cats

The major breed differences involve coat type and length, and therefore grooming requirements, and personalities ranging from the very vocal and individual Siamese, to the compliant and cuddly Ragdoll. There are even breeds that can be tolerated by people known to be allergic to cats, such as the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex.

Research different cat breeds, go to cat shows, visit breeders and ask friends to see which would best fit with your lifestyle. Ask your vet for help.

Once you have selected a breed, find a registered breeder that you trust and get along with. A good relationship with your breeder is always helpful, especially if problems develop later.

Mixed breeds

Obtaining a mixed breed cat will give an abandoned animal a home, and there are usually plenty of kittens available year round from places such as the R.S.P.C.A., Cat Adoption Centres, Animal Welfare League, and Cat Protection Society.

Age

Apart from individual breed differences, the early socialisation of kittens is the major determining influence on behaviour, so that any kitten obtained before 7 weeks of age allows you to socialise and train him or her, and therefore influence its adult behavioural characteristics.

Sex

Male cats, if not castrated, tend to breed, fight, and urinate at will, so have your kitten desexed early. A few neutered males still develop traits such as urine marking, aggression, and roaming. Desexing of both males and females is recommended before the onset of puberty, generally around 5 - 6 months of age. Some vets will recommend earlier desexing from 12 - 16 weeks of age. It is best to ask your own vet and be guided by their preference.

Behaviour

If you are obtaining your kitten from a breeder, visit the cattery and meet the parents. Assess their behaviour and the way they interact with their owners as well as with you, as their behaviour traits will be passed on to the kittens.

Choose a kitten that tolerates handling, lifting and petting with little or no fear or resistance. Continued socialisation and training by you will ensure that you will get a wonderful feline companion for your home.

- Last updated 16 November 2012

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