Proud mother of- the Fab Four!
|Purred: Sat Feb 14, '09 8:58am PST |
|I agree with other posters--a Persian seems to be what you're looking for. Himalayans and Birmans also have their fans, but Persians are, from my observations at cat shows, smallish and laid-back cats. As for the Chinchilla thing--for some weird reason, it seems that Persians aren't just lined up by color at cat shows the way Maine Coons are, but the different colors are considered different breeds. So, a Chinchilla is just a Persian with a certain kind of coloration. Probably the reason that Persians are categorized differently from any other breed is that Persians, like it or not, are still the main focus of the cat fancy world. Also, they come in so many colors--Maine Coons do too--unlike some other breeds like Russian Blues (Russian Whites, anyone?).
It's said that long haired cats tend to be more laid-back than short hairs. Certainly if you go to a cat show and watch the different rings, the Persians are all basically fluffy cushions, and the Abyssinians and Orientals are all screaming their various opinions at the judges.
Persians have been around for ages, and certainly are not hard to come by. I definitely agree with the poster who warned you not to buy from a pet shop. A good breeder will provide you with a much better cat than a pet shop will, AND at a lower price, and you will have the added advantage of having a relationship with the breeder that lasts at least as long as the cat's lifetime--a real advantage when you need help or advice.
Of course, I know that you haven't decided yet that you want a Persian. I'm just sort of using them as an example. But if you DO choose a Persian, be aware that there are smushy faced show Persians, and the so-called "doll face Persians" who have less exaggerated facial features. Smushy faced show Persians tend to have problems with their tear ducts and noses, and some are so smushy faced that they are unable to eat from a plate. Really. So I'd go for a doll face Persian myself.
You want a long hair cat, but short hair Persians, called Exotics, come in lots of colors, have the same kind of personality as Persians, and are easier to take care of, since they have short fur. I'm not really into Persians myself, but I have a cat show friend who produces amazing Persians and Exotics, and sometimes I look at the Exotics and think, gee, I'd like to try one of those...
If you get a long haired cat of any breed, be prepared for grooming tasks. If you have a short haired moggie, you might never need to give him/her a bath, but long haired cats need the occasional bath, first, because they really cannot keep all that fur clean on their own, and second, because a bath helps get rid of loose and dead fur, thus lessening hairball problems. My Maine Coons get bathed regularly, and we have no hairball problems.
On to distinctions such as show quality, breeding quality, and pet quality--I've been to enough cat shows, and had enough conversations with breeders (and am now a breeder myself) to be able to say that it's sort of a scam. I would tend to guarantee that any cat you buy at a pet store is not going to be "show quality," but the distinction between the different ranks of cats sold by breeders can be quite random. For example, my breeder just sells cats; if you want to show the cat you've bought, fine. I bought my Harvey thinking he was "just" pet quality, and right now he's something like number 13 among Maine Coons registered with the CFA internationally. Why? Well, he's not a bad cat. There's no such thing as a perfect cat; he's got a long, long Maine Coon body, gorgeous fur, beautiful eyes...but his profile doesn't have enough of a dip, and his ears are splayed. So, why the high ranking? Because I put him in lots of shows. Almost any cat with a CFA number can become a Champion. Becoming a Grand Champion is something else altogether, but becoming a Champion mostly involves putting your cat into a show with six rings and having the cat declared the number one cat of that classification in the Open Class. This can usually be accomplished in one or two shows, even if you have a mediocre cat.
Okay...I'm sure you're not interested in showing cats, but I just wanted to make it clear that this whole show class and pet class distinction is largely artificial. Now, there ARE cats who actually can't be shown--a kink in the tail, for example, will disqualify a cat. But otherwise...it's largely up to how much energy and money the owner wants to put into showing the cat. So, if you buy from a breeder, be a bit leery of these random show/pet quality classifications.
Having said all that...We still haven't determined that you want a Persian, or that you necessarily want a purebred cat at all. If you DO want a Persian, or a Himalayan, or a Birman--in the U.S., there are rescue groups for purebred cats, and assuming that you don't want to show your cat, that's a good way to go.
Also...If you're not really stuck on breed, then going to a shelter or rescue center and looking over the cats there might be the best thing after all. Persians have been around for so long that you can most definitely find a Persian or Persian mix at a shelter. Or just a domestic long hair. A reliable breeder will try to match you with a cat that meets your wants, but shelter people know their cats well, too, and will do the same thing.
As for the guinea pigs...sorry, can't help you there. I used to have two cats who were AFRAID of my pet rat (long story) and even the goldfish.
Sorry for the long post...As a novice breeder, breeds and breeding are my major interest right now, and I just go on and on. But--don't forget--ALL cats are lovely, so take your time to find the right one, but don't be surprised if your new kitty chooses YOU rather than the other way around!
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