Ask a Behaviorist
Share this image

Four Things to Consider Before Choosing Which Cat to Adopt

You've made the decision to adopt; now it's time to learn the behaviors and needs of different breeds and ages, and which fits you best.

 |  Jan 24th 2014  |   18 Contributions


After you have decided to adopt a cat, you need to find one who will fit your lifestyle and household. There are many lovely cats and kittens in need of great homes. Some are in shelters, others in catteries, and still others are offered by friends. Each is an individual -- with his and her own special personality and individual look.

How do you choose? You cannot take them all.

Many people choose from their heart -- adopting cats with whom they form immediate attachments. Other adopters base their decisions on looks alone. Although emotional connections and appearance are important, there are other factors to consider before bringing home a new feline companion. Before beginning your search, ask yourself the following questions. The answers will help you identify cats who will be great matches for you and your household.

girl looking at the cat by Shutterstock.

Long hair, short hair, or no hair?

All cats need grooming -- long-haired, short-haired, or no hair. Regular maintenance keeps fur coats from becoming matted and tangled. Grooming also helps circulation and rids the skin of dandruff, dirt, and oils. Although all fur coats need care, some require daily attention, others can get by with less.

Long-haired cats such as Persians and Himalayans require daily maintenance. Because their fine textured fur mats and tangles easily, they need daily brushings. If you love the look and temperament of long-haired cats and enjoy brushing them every day, these may be a perfect fit. They are not right for you if you do not have the time for daily grooming sessions.

Not all long-furred cats require a rigorous grooming schedule. Norwegian Forest Cats, Siberians, and Maine Coons are examples of long-haired cats who are fine with being brushed every few days.

Short-haired breeds, such as the Abyssinian, Siamese, and Domestic Shorthair, do not need much help in the grooming department. These cats do well with weekly brushings.

Naked cats such as the Sphynx and Peterbalds have special grooming needs. Even though they do not wear fur coats, weekly baths are mandatory because oils build up on their skin. Also, furless cats are sensitive to temperature changes. They need to be kept warm in cold weather and their delicate skin protected against sunburn. These sweet kitties enjoy the warmth and protection of cat sweaters.

Check out Catsters cat breed list to find out about how much maintenance specific cat breeds require. 

Slow mo or full speed ahead?

Age, breed, health, and history help determine cats’ activity levels. Cat breeds such as Bengals, Savannahs, and Abyssinians live up to their reputations of being high energy and constantly on the move. They love climbing, playing and interacting with their favorite people -- all at full speed. Others, such as British Shorthairs, Ragdolls, and Persians, are low-keyed and laid back, preferring a more sedentary lifestyle. Lounging on a comfortable sofa or in a warm lap is preferable to racing around the house. If you are someone who loves to wind down and relax after a hard day of work, then you may want to adopt a cat with a calm temperament. On the other hand, if you enjoy being entertained by energetic cats, search out an active breed.

Age makes a big difference. Kittens are little balls of energy and they play every chance they get. Everything and everyone in their worlds become something to stalk and attack. The only times they slow down are when they nap and eat. Everyone loves kittens, but depending on your circumstances, they may not be the best adoption choice. Youngsters need lots of attention and guidance. Additionally, keeping them safe and accident-free entails making changes to the home. Adults are calmer in comparison to kittens. Although they enjoy playing, adults are usually satisfied with one or two daily play sessions.   

Do not overlook elderly cats. They are wonderful companions. Although they may enjoy an occasional low-key play session, most prefer relaxing and just being around their favorite people. Unfortunately, many shelters euthanize older kitties because they view them as unadoptable.

Maulee, the author's 20 year old cat

Vocal conversationalist or silent communicator?

Some cats are natural communicators, while others are a bit more subtle in their vocalizations. If you live in an apartment with thin walls, your neighbors may not appreciate your adopting a loud, vocal cat. You may want to check out quiet communicators such as a Scottish Fold or the Somali.

On the other hand, if you enjoy holding conversations with your cats, a vocal conversationalist may be the perfect cat companion for you. Cats such as Siamese and Bengals have loud communication skills and enjoy conversing loudly with their favorite people.

Genetics?

If you are interested in adopting a particular cat breed, factor in genetics. Some breeds are vulnerable to developing specific genetic or hereditary diseases. This does not mean that all cats of a specific breed will develop the disease, but they are more susceptible. If you are adopting or buying a cat from a breeder, ask the person whether he or she tests for the diseases. Reputable breeders breed their cats for health and temperament as well as looks. They are doing their best to breed disease out of their lines. Cats with mixed parentage may be more robust then cats of specific breeds, but they may develop other medical issues that may or may not be hereditary.

When it is time to bring a new companion home, meet and spend time with likely candidates. Connect with your heart but also try to make a decision based on your research. Of course, we know life does not always happen as we plan it. A sweet, irresistible kitty may show up at your door who steals your heart away. 

For more articles and feline facts, follow Marilyn on Facebook!

Got a cat behavior question for Marilyn? Ask our behaviorist in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. If you suspect a behavioral problem, always rule out any possible medical issues that may be causing the behavior by first having your cat examined by a veterinarian. Marilyn can also help you resolve cat behavior challenges through a consultation.

Marilyn, a certified cat behavior consultant, owner of The Cat Coach, LLC,  solves cat behavior problems nationally and internationally through on site, Skype and phone consultations. She uses force free methods that include environmental changes, management, clicker training and other behavior modification techniques.

She is also an award winning author. Her book Naughty No More! focuses on solving cat behavior problems through clicker training and other force-free methods.  Marilyn is big on education—she feels it is important for cat parents to know the reasons behind their cat’s behaviors.  She is a frequent guest on television and radio, answering cat behavior questions and helping people understand their cats. 

Find out how Catster can teach you more about your cat:

Read more by Marilyn:

Contributions

Tip: Creating a profile and avatar takes just a minute and is a great way to participate in Catster's community of people who are passionate about cats.

blog comments powered by Disqus