A guide to choosing the right cat

It may be you fall immediately in love with a very cuddly cat in the cat shelter, but if you have time, it pays to look for a cat that suits you. There are many aspects to consider: do you choose a purebred or a crossbreed? Will you allow your cat to go hunting for mice in the nearby woods, or do you prefer a lazy Garfield dozing on the sofa? The possibilities are endless.

Just the cat for you 

Cats exist in all colours and sizes. Of course you would prefer a pet that suits you, also in terms of character. If you opt for a purebred cat, information is available in advance. Norwegian Forest cats for example are very calm, while Siamese cats are very social and sometimes a little invasive. If you opt for a crossbreed, it's a good idea to spend some time with your new friend before deciding to take him home.

All this will also depend on how much time you have. If you spend long periods away at work or doing other things, then an independent animal like a European Shorthair is ideal. If you like to spend time pampering your cat, then an oriental breed like Siamese might be the thing for you. Longhaired cats are somewhat more time consuming when you count in the vacuuming time.

Don't forget either that keeping a cat will cost money. Regular visits to the vet, food, medication and so on. Cats generally cost quite a bit less than dogs.

Males want to be stroked more than females, who are very independent.

Purebred or crossbreed?

Every breed has both advantages and disadvantages. Your vet or breeder can certainly give you more information. The good news with a purebred is that you know what you're bringing home: a purebred usually has a defined character and you know in advance to which diseases and ailments it will be sensitive. After all, many breeds have hereditary weaknesses. But even so, even purebred cats each have their individual characters. Moreover, purebreds are pricey compared with crossbreeds, the kittens of which are often given away free.

If you want a purebred cat, the question remains precisely what breed you want. If you’ve children in the house, a European Shorthair is ideal. They can take rough treatment and are very independent. Persians are very friendly, but their long hair needs frequent combing frequently and accumulates in clumps beneath the chair. Angora and Balinese cats require a little less combing, but are more nervous.

With crossbreeds, it's harder to predict health and character, but it helps to have a good look at the parents. With bastards, where you don't know who the father is, you’ll have to guess the future. But don't panic: foreign blood makes for healthy cats because hereditary diseases are not passed on, as is the case with purebreds.

Are you looking for a purebred for its special outer features, but are not interested in entering your moggy for competitions and exhibitions? In this case you can opt for a cat with a 'production fault'. For example, a Persian cat in a different colour. These are often sold much cheaper than their perfect counterparts. They are also usually castrated, so that the 'fault' is not passed on.

Kitten or adult cat? 

Kittens are often irresistibly cute. They are playful and spontaneous and adapt quickly to their new surroundings. Little kittens cost in the beginning more time than an adult cat, but the main advantage is again that the kitten has grown up from an early age in your house and that you train it from the start. From twelve weeks kittens are old enough to take home.

Adult cats are a good idea for seniors or families with young children. They require less care than a kitten. Moreover, there is no shortage of choice in the animal shelters. Adult cats do, though, need some time to find their feet in a new house. Keep the cat indoors to start with, otherwise there's a danger it'll immediately go off looking for its former home. It may take a few months for your cat to feel one hundred percent at home and then you can let it outdoors.

With crossbreeds, it's harder to predict health and character.

Tomcat or female?

This is above all a personal choice. Males want to be stroked more than females, who are very independent. A female cat that is not sterilised will be on heat twice a year. The cat pill may be a solution, but is not one hundred percent certain if you want to be sure not to have a litter of kittens in the house.

Males tend to be larger and also like to play a little rougher. If castrated, they become much calmer and don’t wander off looking for a partner. It's not true that they're lazy and sit around all day, often the main reason is that their owners don't play with them enough. Sometimes they fight with other males to mark their territory, and spray urine for the same reasons. If you prefer to avoid the strong smell, then castration is the best option.

Where to buy your cat

If you go to the shelter or a breeder, take plenty of time to play with the cat, to get an idea of its character. Also keep an eye on the cat's living conditions: does it have room to play? Is it fed enough? Does it look to be well-groomed?

Ask about the cat's health. Kittens should receive all of their vaccinations and be dewormed. The vet keeps all that information in the cat passport. Keep away from market traders, pet shops and puppy mills, opt rather for shelters, accredited breeders or your vet.

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