How to Find the Right Cat

Figuring out what type of feline to get and where to get him/her can be a very daunting task. You can go to a pet store, shelter, or private owner and at each one you can gets purebreds, mixed breeds, kittens, and older cats of all shapes, colors and sizes. Follow the questions below to help you figure out which cat will be best for you.

  • Think about why you want a cat. – Do you want a cat that will play with you non-stop, do you want a second cat to become friends with your first cat, do you want a cat that needs a lot of love and attention and sort of a ‘surrogate mom’, or do you want a cat that will be the best lap cat in the world and just cuddle all day long? Usually thinking about why you want a cat can help you narrow in on what type of cat you will like best!
  • Think about what type of cat you want. – There are many different facets to cats: demeanor, physical characteristics, life span, associated diseases, behavioral predisposition, temperament, health, sociability, size and breeding opportunity. Depending on what you want in each of these facets you can probably start to narrow down the type of cat you want.
  • Do you want a purebred or mixed breed? – There are many books that list cat breeds, such books will list both pure and mixed types. Each breed of cat has its own different combination of characteristics to the facets above. Just remember a few things when considering a pure breed cat. Pure breed cats are more susceptible to disease and mutation (due to inbreeding that creates pure breeds). They are generally very expensive. And, as there is an epidemic of homeless/abandoned cats that need homes, you may want to consider rescuing a cat which may not be able to survive without adoption. At 21cats we always suggest that you first go to your local animal shelters and check out all of the cats/kittens that are up for adoption. You will be surprised at the selection of different breeds and types of animals you will find! And you might just find a hidden goldmine just waiting for you!
  • Do you want a cat or a kitten? – There is definitely a fun aspect to raising a kitten; however, if you adopt an adult cat you will definitely know what his/her demeanor and personality is before you adopt. An adult cat will also be pre-trained to use the litterbox, use a scratching post etc. If you want a very, very low-maintenance pet you may want to consider an adult. If you have small children at home you may also want to consider getting an adult cat. Although children love kittens, they can love them too much and inadvertently harm the small critters. And finally, kittens should stay with their mother until they are about 12 weeks of age so be wary of a pet store or breeder willing to separate the mom and litter too early and sell you a kitten younger than that. If you are adopting from a shelter you may see many kittens under 12 weeks of age. These kittens usually have already been abandoned or separated from mom. These kittens are in desperate need of a surrogate mom, so if you see a young kitten in a shelter don’t hesitate to adopt.
  • Where do I go to get a feline? – You can go to a private owner, pet store or shelter to adopt your new friend. We generally advocate first going to your local humane society or animal shelter. These cats, if not adopted, will unfortunately be slated for death. So if you can, try to go there first. Of course if you are purchasing a pure breed you may have to go to a private owner or store.
  • Do I get one or two cats? – If you are not going to be around much for your pet you may want to consider getting two at the same time, especially if you are getting kittens! Cats do like company and will be bored to tears if left completely alone. Animals without company (human or feline) usually are not as well socialized and will not have not expanded their mental capabilities to the fullest (similar to a child who grows up alone). Kittens who are raised together will grow up to be great friends (just make sure you still give them enough human contact or they will grow up to ONLY like each other), while introducing a new cat into your home after your first cat is already grown or has already staked out his/her territory can be tricky and more difficult.

If you are unsure of the best course of action you may want to talk to your veterinarian, breeder, or someone at your local shelter. They will be well versed in different breeds and what type of cat might be best for you.

Lastly if you do purchase your cat at a shelter here is a list of questions you might want to ask:

  • Why is the cat up for adoption?
  • Is it known who the previous owners were?
  • Is there a personality profile on him/her from the previous owners?
  • If the cat was a stray what was the situation in which he/she was brought in?
  • Was the animal abused before coming to the shelter?
  • Is the mother and/or other littermates here (if you are adopting a kitten)?
  • Has the cat been examined by a veterinarian and is the cat fully vaccinated and neutered/spayed?
  • What is the cats demeanor as he/she has displayed thus far, does the cat get along with other cats, etc.?