How to choose a breed

Domestic cats are usually low-maintenance pets that have specific benefits over dogs. They don’t require much exercise, they don’t need obedience training, and they use a convenient litter box to go to the bathroom. In fact, it is often said that dogs have masters while cats have servants. Nevertheless, the breed of cat you choose will depend on a few factors that need closer evaluation.

If you choose a kitten, purebreds will be a more predictable choice since you’ll know precisely how they’ll look as adults. There are also popular breeds like Siamese, Maine Coon, and Persian that are chosen for their distinct appearance. There is more, however, to choosing the right cat for your household than meets the eye.

One should consider a cat’s personality, for one thing. An Abyssinian is generally a much friendlier cat with strangers than a Siamese or a Bombay. An American Shorthair or a Ragdoll would be other good choices for houses with children. If there are other animals in the house, this may impact your decision as well but given time, most dog breeds can get along with cats.

Grooming is another issue. Long-haired cats like the Birman, Persian, and Angora breeds require frequent brushing to keep their fur in good shape, and may require baths and conditioner to manage tangled, matted fur.

Cats, like dogs and humans, have specific health care needs to keep them fit and well. Fleas and intestinal worms are parasites that can cause a host of health issues, including anemia and diarrhea. Vaccinations will protect against the most common viruses like Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus and Feline Panleukopenia.

Some breeds, like Persians, have specific respiratory problems or eye diseases that require ongoing care and attention. This makes these breeds not only more time consuming but potentially more expensive to care for. This needs to be taken into account if you like their short nosed look.

Most of us have met people who are extremely sensitive or allergic to cats. There are no known hypoallergenic cat breeds, though some claim that the hairless breeds such as the Rex cause less reactions in sensitive people. All cats shed skin dander, and this is what is responsible for most allergies, not cat hair.

Cat breeds also differ by how active they are. Bengals, Burmese, Abyssinians, and Balinese are all examples of more lively breeds that enjoy space to run and play, while the Bombay, Ragdoll, Russian Blue, and Havana Brown are known for being quieter.

When you’re looking for a feline family member, don’t rule out the charming domestic cat. They can have long or short hair and are delightful companions. Because they’re not purebred, their size and personality is not as predictable.

Whatever breed you choose, it helps to keep these specific requirements in mind and to research the characteristics of different types of cats before making a final decision. This is the best way to choose a pet that fits your personality, budget and lifestyle.

Article courtesy Dr Rosie Brown BVSc (Hons)

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