Choosing your cat
Now that you're getting a cat, you have to decide what kind. Should you get cat with a pedigree or a non-pedigree? Longhair or shorthair? Male or a female? You may even be wondering if you should get more than one.
Here are a few tips to help you choose your cat:
Pedigree or non-pedigree?
There are over fifty different breeds of cat and about 500 varieties. Characteristics vary enormously among breeds. Just look at the ever-popular Siamese, Burmese and Persian, the Manx who has no tail, or the hairless Canadian Sphinx. Apart from the differences in their appearance, each breed has a distinct temperament and personality. The Siamese, for example, is well known as an extrovert, whereas the longhaired Persians are generally more sedate.
Attending a cat show is a great way of checking out all the different breeds and using the opportunity to see which breed appeals to you most. You'll see loads of amazing and adorable cats, some of which you might want to take home with you.
Longhair or shorthair?
Longhaired cats can be very attractive. However, just like people who have long hair, they need a lot of grooming attention to keep their coat tangle-free and in good condition.
Male or female?
Male cats are generally larger than females. Un-neutered tomcats tend to go off wandering around the neighbourhood, and can get into fights with other cats. They may also mark their territory by "spraying" with their urine or by leaving their feces unburied.
Un-spayed female cats will come into season regularly and may become pregnant. And when they're in heat, they can be very loud.
Unless you intend to breed from your cat, it's best to have him neutered or her spayed. Once they're neutered or spayed, there's less noticeable difference between male and female cats.
Here's something interesting: If you already have an adult cat and plan to get a new kitten, you may find that the new kitten is more readily accepted if he or she is of the opposite gender to your adult cat.
One cat or more?
Many cat owners aren't sure whether it's best to have just one cat or more. This decision depends on the individual cat. Some cats prefer to live with other cats, while some much prefer to spend their time alone or with humans. If you already have an adult cat, you probably have a good idea of what she would prefer and how she would get along with another cat.
If you are away from home for much of the day, you may want to get two or more cats so they can keep each other company. Kittens who've been brought up together generally get along very well, even as adults.
Where do you get your cat?
There are a number of sources for finding cats. Once you've decided to get a cat, start putting the word out among your friends and neighbours. One of them might have a cat or kittens for sale or even to give away, or they may know of someone who does. Litters are often advertised in newspapers and shop windows. A great place to get a cat from is an animal welfare shelter or charity. They usually have many cats and kittens who desperately need a home.
What should you look for?
First, ask to see the kittens with their mother. This way, you can assess the mother's general health and temperament. Bear in mind that she may not be in tip-top condition as a result of rearing her litter, but most importantly, you can make sure the kittens haven't been prematurely weaned or brought in from somewhere else.
It's best to wait until the kitten is at least 7-8 weeks old before you take her from her mother. Breeders of pedigree cats often prefer to keep the kittens until they are 12 weeks old. Try to see a number of different litters before you make your decision. Only buy from premises that appear hygienic (but don't expect conditions to be sterile), and where the cats seem happy, healthy and reasonably clean.
Healthy kittens are usually curious, and will show interest in strangers. Choose a kitten that is lively and playful, without being too aggressive. The socialization period in cats is believed to end at 7 - 9 weeks of age, so it's important that your kitten has been well socialized before she comes to live with you.
Choose a kitten that is active and looks healthy and clean. Check the vaccination and de-worming status of the kitten you choose, and make sure you are given any relevant certificates.