Appearance

Lets talk about the cat...

Coat length is one of the most obvious distinctions in cats.  Do you prefer a long-hair such as Persian (whose hair can attain a length of 8 inches), or a Domestic Short Hair?  Or something in-between?  There is even a so-called ‘hairless’ cat (the Sphynx).  Consider the grooming requirements, both in terms of time (for you to groom) and expense (visits to the parlour).  Can you manage the daily brushing your Persian will require?  [Even the Sphynx is high maintenance, as it requires frequent wipe-downs and baths].  What about shedding?  Hair length is not an indicator of the amount of shedding.  All cats do shed, but some more than others.  Is someone in your family allergic to cats?  Perhaps then you should consider one of the hypo-allergenic cats, such as the Sphynx, or the Devon Rex.  [Remember though, that hypo allergenic means ‘less allergenic’ and not ‘not allergenic’.]

Despite similarities, there are small, medium and large cat breeds (leaving aside issues of overweight and illness).  The Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest are large cats (males commonly in the 6-10 kg range), while the Russian Blue averages less than half their size.

There are a number of cat breeds with special features, such as the hairless cat (Sphynx); the tailless cat (Manx); cats whose ears flop over (the Scottish Fold).  There are also genetic mutations, such as the Munchkin, which is a dwarf cat with very short legs.   Does one of these have particular appeal for you?  

Dont forget the Dogs?

Are you (and your children) comfortable with a dog that can look you directly in the eye, without standing on its hind legs?  Are you worried about stepping on a miniature?  Seriously, size does matter.  Large dogs eat more, and everything from tick treatments to medicines, kennels and toys, costs more.  Do you have an elderly parent or relative living with you, someone who is perhaps a little frail?  Could they cope with a bump from a large dog or a swipe from a happy, bullwhip-like tail?  Might the kids injure a toy breed by playing too roughly?  Do you have the time and interest to pursue the necessary training?  [All dogs should have some training, but obedience training is essential for a large dog, else he might take you for a run, literally.]  

Long-hair or short?  Consider the grooming requirements, both in terms of time (for you to groom) and expense (visits to the parlour).  What about shedding?  Hair length is not an indicator of the amount of shedding.  All dogs do shed, but some more than others.  Is someone in your family allergic to dogs?  Perhaps then you should consider one of the hypo-allergenic dogs, such as the Italian grey hound, or poodle.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you must do your research before getting a new pet.  There are a variety of breeds that could fit your specific needs, you just have to do you research and find one that is perfect for your lifestyle. Take into consideration: energy levels, size, coat, if they slobber a lot, are they very vocal, intelligence, genetic health problems, temperament etc.There are numerous books available, describing the different breeds and what their characteristics are.  Even books that will help you explore what you want and don’t want in a pet, books that learn you more about shelter cats, and how to choose one.  Get on the Internet.  Talk to or visit a breeder, breed associations or go visit a animal expo.  Meet some of the pets and talk to their owners.

Don’t make your decision based on emotion or gut feeling.  Just because you love Garfield cartoons, or cheered for Sylvester against Tweety Bird in Disney movies, loved 101 dalamations or cried during the The lady and the tramp, doesn’t mean that’s the right pet for you.  Look around, do your research, and then make a commitment to the new member of your family.

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