Felines have become so fashionable, it seems everyone wants to get a cat these days. And who could blame them? Cats are pretty cool. But sometimes cat owners get it wrong when it comes to choosing the right personality of cat for their home environment or lifestyle.
As a cat behaviourist, I see time and time again the wrong breed matched with the wrong household, and this can cause unwanted behavioural issues in the future. Like placing a highly intelligent cat such as the Bengal, who are known for their energetic and lively behaviour, into a one bedroom high-rise apartment, or a moggy who used to be be an outdoor cat suddenly being confined indoors.
Below are some of my best tips to help prospective cat owners choose the right breed.
PERSIANS / RAGAMUFFINS / RAGDOLLS / EXOTIC SHORTHAIRS
These breeds are known for their laid-back personalities and do well around children or kept solely as indoor cats. The grooming for the Ragdolls, Ragamuffins and Persians however, shouldn’t be underestimated. These cats need regular coat maintenance so always check the correct grooming regime from the breeder or a local holistic cat groomer.
BENGALS / SIAMESE / SPHYNX / BURMESE
These cats are usually extremely energetic, intelligent, vocal and playful. They need plenty of brain and physical activity stimulation. They do not do well being left for long hours on their own, so if you are set on one of these breeds I would encourage obtaining two kittens from the same litter for companionship. These cats need spacious homes and many thrive on secure outside space to run around in. They are low maintenance cats when it comes to their grooming regime.
MAINE COONES / NORWEGIAN FOREST CATS
These are larger breeds that will need plenty of high up spaces for climbing and space for running around in general. They do not do well in tiny urban apartments, but many can thrive within secure gardens and with the opportunity to climb trees or walk on a lead. Their grooming regime is high- maintenance and needs to be considered before buying. Most Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats (as well as Persians) are not lap cats but ‘beside the lap’ cats. This is because of their thick fur. Our body heat combined with theirs makes lap-sitting uncomfortable for them and they feel too hot.
ABYSSINIANS / CORNISH REX / SINGAPURAS / SOMALIS
These breeds are extremely playful and social cats, so again need a lot of stimulation to thrive. The Abyssinian especially loves company and learns very quickly too. They do well kept solely indoors as long as the right amount of stimulation and company is provided.
The trusty old moggie should never be overlooked, especially ones awaiting a second chance in our numerous rescue centres. Most of them are lap cats, extremely affectionate, love the outdoors and can establish very deep bonds with their owners. Of course every cat’s personality and background is different, so owners of the moggy should bear this in mind when deciding which cat to get and whether to allow their cat access to the outdoors.
Also, the cat’s background and temperament will determine if they enjoy being picked up or stroked or whether they thrive in the company of other cats. Moggies have so much to give, even the quieter ones hiding at the back of the cage in a rescue centre can blossom into the most loving companion with patience, understanding, care and attention. Moggies are low maintenance in the grooming department as most have short hair. Moggies tend to be tabby, tortoiseshell, black and white, ginger, black, white and even grey.
Always consider getting two kittens together if space allows so that they have companionship during the long hours alone and always think of the needs of your cat from the cat’s perspective. Your cat will love you for it!
Further information on choosing the right cat can be found at the Blue Cross.