Cats make wonderful pets and companions. Overall, they’re low maintenance, don’t demand all of your attention, can be great cuddle buddies, and cheer you up when you’re down. So it’s no wonder you’ve decided a cat should become part of your household!
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the right cat for your situation—living, health, work, etc. We’ve put together a simple and straightforward guide to answer the biggest question asked by every prospective cat owner, “What kind of cat should I get?”
So, let’s take a look and find out what might be a good fit for you.
Younger vs. Older
There are basically three stages to consider when it comes to cats and age. To answer the question of what kind of cat you should get, make sure you are comfortable with what each stage has to offer.
Kittens have an undeniable and instant appeal. Little fur balls that are slightly clumsy, with tiny little meows. They love to be cuddled and played with. The downside is that they have to trained to use a litter box (with considerable cleanup until that’s achieved), they’ll need to learn to not scratch furniture/drapes/rugs, they’ll go through a teething phase, and they need to be socialized with children and/or other animals already in your household. While all of this takes time and energy, training them yourself can usually guarantee your cat will be obedient!
Fully grown cats may also be better with smaller children, as they are less fragile than kittens. They are almost always already trained to use a litter box, too! However, due to their unknown past, they may have established bad habits and/or a bad attitude. It is not uncommon for cats to be mildly aggressive, prone to biting, scratching, and spraying, etc. With persistence and patience, they can be retrained!
While the lifespan of senior cats are ultimately shorter than kittens or mid-life cats, they also tend to be less needy, less active, and less demanding. They may have similar issues as adult cats, but they have less energy to execute them. You may also find vet bills are higher with a senior cat, due to medical issues that occur as they get older. On the flip side, you’re giving them a lovely home in their twilight years.
Purebred vs. Mix
There are 42 cat breeds currently recognized in the U.S., each with particular traits. If you’re looking for a specific trait or temperament, then a purebred cat may be the way to go. While it doesn’t guarantee that a specific trait is present in your cat, the chances are higher than a mixed-breed cat. For example, Tonkinese or Persian cats are good fits for singletons, as they don’t require extensive human interaction, can live in studios or apartments, and have lovable personalities. Families with small children might be better off with a Ragdoll, Maine Coon or American Shorthair, all of which like to play and are affectionate. For a list of all the breeds and their qualities, check out The Cat Fanciers Association website here.
The majority of cats belong in this category and what we see most of at the CCSPCA. While a Heinz 57 doesn’t come with any definable traits, they can come with better health than their purebred counterparts. Mixed breed cats will have less genetic defects and fewer health conditions overall due to the larger gene pool. Mixed breeds come in all sizes, different coat lengths and colors, often combining the best of several breeds!
So, are you getting any closer to answering your question of: What kind of cat should I get? If not, we have a few more considerations to help you make a decision. Read on….
Long Hair vs. Short Hair (or Hairless)
There are definite pros and cons to having a cat with long fur. Long-haired cats tend to be very soft. However, long hair needs to be brushed regularly to avoid mats and to remove burrs and other debris that gets tangled up as the cats move around. That requires a daily grooming session. Shedded hair is also more noticeable on floors, and can arguably cause more hairballs than cats with short or no hair.
Short-haired cat breeds are perhaps the most common breed. While they don’t tend to shed any less than a long-haired cat, the hair isn’t quite as visible. Grooming isn’t required as often, although all cats should have at least a weekly brushing.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans with an allergy to cat hair and dander, there are several short-hair hypoallergenic breeds that you can consider (and one hairless, as described below). Among them are:
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
- Siberian (which actually has a moderately long fluffy coat)
The most infamous hairless cat is Mr. Bigglesworth, the Sphynx from the Austin Powers movies. The Sphynx is the only breed without hair, making it ideal for those who have cat allergies. They are intelligent and friendly, and great for single or adult owners. They have a smooth, soft skin with no hair. That translates to no shedding!
Because they have no hair, they tend to like warm places to settle: laps, computer monitors, under the covers, sunny windows. They shouldn’t be outdoors in colder weather for any length of time, and indoors should be at least moderately heated. You’ll also need to give your hairless cat frequent baths to help alleviate the buildup of oils on the skin. This task can be challenging, depending on their temperament, so be sure to have extra hands available.
The last factors to consider are your home and life situations.
Size of Home
Do you live in a studio? An apartment? A condo? No room for a cat to wander outside and a confined space within? You’ll want to consider a smaller cat that is less energetic than normal. That way they won’t bounce off the walls or trip you!
The size and make up of your household is also of importance. If you live alone, you’ll probably want a cat that needs a bit less attention, since you’ll be the only one providing care. If you have a roommate, partner or spouse, you’ll need to take their needs into consideration. Are they okay with a long-haired cat that will shed all over? Do they have allergies? And if you have children, you’ll want a cat that is mellow and/or playful, and used to children. Let’s face it, children often treat their pets like dolls, carrying them around, pushing them in carts, even trying to dress them up. Then there are those who like to roughhouse and pull tails, so it is important you also educate your children on proper and humane treatment of animals.
If you work long hours but still want to have a feline companion, you’ll need to find one that is a solitary soul, content with having you for an hour two in the morning and evening. You could also consider adopting two cats at once to alleviate any boredom. (We know, a cat that is ignored can get into some mighty mischief!) Having a playmate can help the situation and provide twice as much joy! And plus, you’re saving two lives in the process.
Well, we’ve looked at all the major factors to consider when deciding what kind of cat should you should get. If you are ready and willing, we welcome you to our shelter to meet and greet our adoptable cats and kittens. We have dozens of kittens and adult cats for you to choose from. You can visit the CCSPCA Cattery (103 S. Hughes Ave, Fresno, CA 93706), 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on Wednesdays), or find our mobile adoption unit that moves around Fresno.
And know that all cat adoptions from the CCSPCA include:
- Spay or neuter
- FVRCP vaccination
- One routine deworming
- Microchip (Free registration with email address)
- One complimentary application of flea and tick control
- A complimentary exam at one of our participating veterinary clinics
In addition to the items we include in all cat adoptions we also offer additional pre-adoption services for an additional charge:
- Additional FVRCP Vaccination (when applicable)
- FELV/FIV Testing
- FeLV Vaccination
- Rabies Vaccination
- Capstar (kills fleas within 60 minutes so you don’t take them home)
- Ear Mite Treatment (when applicable)
- Grooming at CCSPCA Grooming Salon
- Dental Care (when applicable)
Adopting your first pet? Make sure you download our Ultimate Guide for People New to Adopting here.