So, you’re looking to be owned and ruled by a cat, right?
Contrary to picking out a new puppy, choosing to purchase or adopt a new kitten is completely different. You don’t ever own a cat….they own their humans!
Choosing a cat isn't just a matter of vet checkups, neutering and health concerns. It's not even necessarily by looks. The most important reason to choose a cat is to find the one who's going to become a good roommate--and maybe take over your life! Age, gender, breed and looks matter, but it comes down to personality. To know yourself is know your future feline! However, we still must advise you to plan for a cat.
Make some initial decisions based on why you want a cat. Do you like cat shows and want a purebred who will win awards and enjoy showing off in front of judges? Are you replacing a cat that died of old age, if so do you want one that reminds you of your departed pet or a cat so visually different you know that's who it is on sight? How large is your home? What's your budget? What are your habits? Look into different breed personalities online.
Kittens are terminally cute, but they require more care and watching over. They may not have the litter box down yet, and they go through a wild phase at around 6 months of age when they are unstoppable bundles of energy. Kittens need several trips to the veterinarian for vaccinations, checkups, and finally, neutering or spaying. Perhaps most important, it is difficult to predict what a kitten will turn out like when it grows up, in both looks and behavior. If you have any other cats, how they feel about the newcomer ought to be taken into account. If you have a cat that is lonely and you are getting a second cat to keep her company, consider taking her with you on the trip to see the cat you want to purchase. Let him or her help to choose the companion. Good planning when getting a kitten or grown cat is usually the best recipe for a good match to your new life-long feline friend.
Breeders, Private Owners and Purebreds
Purebred cats are uncommon, estimated at between 1% and 3% of all cats. There are about 40 recognized cat breeds. Each breed consists of a closely related group of cats with similar looks and personality. For example, typical Siamese are slender, active, people-oriented cats that tend to vocalize a lot. Not all Siamese have these characteristics, but most do. A purebred kitten will probably grow up to be typical of its breed in looks and personality; a non-purebred kitten may turn out quite different from what you expect.
Many people are attracted to purebreds because they want a cat with a particular color, size, or hair length. For example, you might be interested in Russian Blues because you like the blue-gray color, or you might be interested in Maine Coons because you want a big shaggy cat. If you're more interested in specific personalities, a purebred might be more predictable. While any personality type can be found among the non-purebred population, figuring out which one has which may not be as straightforward unless you are looking at adult cats.
If you do want to buy a purebred cat or kitten, you will need to look for a good, responsible breeder. Try to talk to more than one breeder before buying a kitten. Look for honest people who care about their cats' welfare, and who have good-natured cats. Talk to breeders about inherited health problems. Ask about how the cats are raised. If possible, visit the cattery before buying a kitten.
Listen to your intuitions; if you feel anything is "not right" about this breeder, go to another breeder. A good breeder asks you questions, too, to find out if you are a good home for a kitten. The breeder may also ask that you sign a contract requiring you to care properly for this kitten. This is normal, and is a sign of a responsible breeder. Expect to pay $300-400 or more for a "pet quality" kitten, depending on the breed and your area. Breeders also may have purebred adults available at low or no cost to a good home.
Private owners of purebred kittens will sometimes advertise in the paper, on bulletin boards, and in Cat magazines. These kittens are usually well cared for and you can meet them in a home environment. Make sure you are getting a healthy, well socialized kitten, don't get a kitten that is too young (younger than 8 weeks). Mom and Dad cat will usually be on the premises and it’s a good idea to look them over and interact with them as well. Always ask questions and find out about the primary vet that has monitored the care of the kittens and give them a call before you buy.
Animal Shelter Adoptions and the Mixed Breed Cat
Most cats do not belong to any particular breed. These cats are often called "mixed breed" cats. They are also known as "domestic short hairs" or "domestic longhairs." Domestic short hairs and longhairs vary tremendously in looks and personality. They come in a wide variety of color patterns and may sometimes closely resemble specific breeds even when they are not. Each one has its own unique personality, regardless of what color it is or how long its hair is. Domestic short hairs and longhairs are easy to acquire. In fact, many of these types of cats are flooding the shelters because there is more of them than there is demand. An animal shelter or Feline Rescue is a good place to pick up a cat and save it from death in the bargain. Look for a clean, healthy cat. Look for signs of friendliness and liveliness. Talk with the people caring for the animals for any information on a particular animal they can give you; they can often tell you a lot about a cat's personality. Don't overlook the adult cats. At the animal shelter, be prepared to pay a fee, answer some questions about the home you will give the cat, and perhaps give some references. This is normal. The fee covers some of the costs of operating the animal shelter. The questions are meant to ensure that adopted cats go to good, stable homes. Most will require that you have the cat spayed or neutered. Most shelters or agencies will do it prior to adoption while others will require you to do so within a month or two of acquiring the pet. This is a good and responsible practice and is intended to reduce the population of kittens returning to the shelter.
Our final thoughts...
So, after reading all the advice above you're seriously thinking about getting your first cat and you are sure you want a cat in your life. Splendid! You may have some preconceived notions that you want a particular breed of cat, or that you want a kitten instead of an adult kitty. But before that important decision just remember to do some homework. Like life itself, there are many factors involved in choosing a cat, some of which you may never have considered. We are always here to help you in making that decision. On the other hand, you may find yourself lucky enough to be chosen by the cat to become its life-long human pet!