You’re ready to own a cat or kitten, but now you have decisions to make. Here are things you should know before bringing a cat home. What kind of cat do you want? You have to choose moggie or pedi-greed, kitten or adult, male or female, size, and hair length.
Moggie versus Pedigreed
So which type of cat are you looking for? Are you in love with the sleekness of the Siamese? The size of the Maine Coon? Or maybe the versatility of the moggie? Whatever look you may be seeking, you can ﬁnd a cat out there for you. Which type of cat is best really is a matter of opinion. Both moggies and pedigreed cats make outstanding pets. So let’s break down your choices.
What Is a Moggie?
When most people think about getting a cat, they think in terms of a domestic shorthair (DSH) or just a plain, garden-variety cat. Sometimes people make a distinction between short-haired and long-haired cats and call the latter domestic longhair (DLH), but these are just designations for a domestic cat without a particular breed, in other words, a moggie.
The moggie can be any color: tabby (with mackerel, classic, spotted, ticked, or patched tabby patterns), pointed (with markings on the legs, tail, and ears), calico (black and red with white), tortoiseshell (black and red), bicolor, or solid. If you’re looking for the greatest choice and the best price (many moggies are free or available for the price of an adoption at a shel- ter or rescue), look no further than the moggies.
There isn’t anything wrong with owning a moggie. In fact, unless you have reasons for get-ting a pedigreed cat, you’re more likely to ﬁnd the perfect companion in a moggie. The avail-ability of moggies is phenomenal. Like people, they come with a variety of personalities and looks to suit anyone’s taste. You’re likely to ﬁnd the perfect cat when you look at a moggie.
Should you consider a pedigreed cat? There aren’t as many cat breeds as dog breeds. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognizes only forty-one cat breeds; the International Cat Association (TICA), sixty-one; and American Cat Fanciers’ Association (ACFA), forty-six. (Compare that to the American Kennel Club [AKC], which has 150 recognized dog breeds.)
Pedigreed cats also have their positives. With a pedigreed cat, you get a distinctive look and can usually rely on the type of personality you might see. A pedigreed won’t have as many surprises in size or looks, which means that if you know what the parents look like, you can guess the kittens will look similar. Pedigreed cats can compete in CFA and TICA cat shows.
On the negative side, pedigreed cats can have genetic diseases that exist within certain lines or even within the breed. Also, most pedi-greed kittens tend to be costly. Pedigreed adults usually cost about half or less than what you would expect to pay for a kitten if you get them from a shelter or from rescue.
Deciding if a Moggie or a Pedigreed Cat Is for You
□ I don’t want to pay a lot for my cat.
□ I don’t necessarily want a special look.
□ I want a nice companion that will be primarily a pet.
□ I want to save a life.
□ I will neuter or spay my cat.
□ I want a cat with a special temperament and look.
□ I like a particular breed and that is the best breed.
□ I don’t mind paying a fair amount of money to have the type of cat I want.
□ I want to enter my pet in cat shows.
How Big Will the Cat Be?
Unlike dogs, cats come in more or less one size. Most cats fall into a range of ﬁve to ﬁfteen pounds when fully grown. However, there are certainly exceptions such as small Siamese cats or large Maine Coon cats. With a moggie, a lot depends on genetics and nutrition. Here are just a few of the things that factor into the size of your cat: parents’ stature (Was her father a big tomcat? Was her mom tiny?); nutrition (Did her mother get enough to eat dur- ing pregnancy and when the kittens were nursing?); and health (Was the mother sickly? Did the kitten receive a balanced diet?)
Male or Female?
Which is better? Actually both are wonderful pets provided that you spay or neuter (remove the reproductive organs) them. An altered cat, regardless of sex, makes a ﬁne pet. Unless you’re planning to show your cat, you should always spay or neuter your pet. Cats can become aggressive, noisy, or just downright troublesome if you don’t, and both intact male and female cats will spray. Plus, if a female cat copulates, she’s going to have kittens because the act of breeding stimulates ovulation in a cat, almost guaranteeing that the cat will become pregnant.
Longhair, Shorthair, or No Hair?
One consideration for the pet owner is whether to go longhair or shorthair. Short-haired cats are naturally less prone to tangles and mats in their hair than long-haired cats and therefore need less grooming. Some just need a quick brush once in a while or even a hand brushing. A long-haired cat is going to need brushing and combing every day or two plus have his back legs cleaned up every time he goes to the litter box (poop sticks to long hair). There’s a price to pay for those good looks!
What about a very sparsely haired or a hairless cat like the Sphynx or the Cornish Rex? Because their skin is oily, they need baths every few days just like people. Those kitties need help staying warm and get cold easily without blankets or sweaters. While you will not be doing much brushing, you might end up knitting some cat-warming accessories!
Kitten or Adult?
There’s nothing more adorable than a kitten. Who, except those with the strongest will, can resist one? Kittens are beyond cute. As you watch your little ﬂuff-ball grow up, she’ll endear herself to you every moment.
But kittens are a lot of work. They’re very active and get into the darnedest things. They require much more attention than a cat and need more socialization. If no one is around during the day, you might wish to reconsider owning a kitten. While kittens are indeed cute and loving, their personalities may change as they go into adolescence. You may end up with a very aloof cat. If you’re looking for a stable temperament, get an adult cat.
Adult cats will have settled down a bit and won’t need all the attention and exercise a kitten requires. There aren’t too many surprises with a grown cat—what you see is what you get. However, a cat may have picked up bad habits from previous owners or may have been traumatized during his life. In this case, socialization is important.
Adult cats generally aren’t as adoptable as kittens. If you’re looking to rescue a cat from a shelter, the neediest ones are usually adults. Cats older than 8 face a grim future. Most are euthanized because people usually want a kitten. The truth is that older cats make great pets. Remember that cats can live up to 20 years with good care, so an older cat may have a lot of loving years ahead of him. An older cat is more appropriate for a family with small children because the cat already knows it can simply walk away if a child annoys him. Older cats are great for seniors too because they’re less active and also less likely to be underfoot.
Margaret H. Bonham