Many people make a big mistake when adopting a cat. They do not have a plan and end up making an impulsive, emotion-based decision. How to choose the right type of cat for your family requires a careful evaluation of your family’s needs and lifestyle. The following are important considerations that will help you choose the right type of cat for your family:
Kitten or adult cat?
Keep in mind that a kitten is an adorable ball of energy on a huge learning spurt, curious and extremely playful. This can make having one around frustrating and often exasperating. Family members should be available to devote time for proper supervision and to keep the kitten out of trouble.
The plus side is that you can nurture and train the kitten to your own specifications. However, there are no guarantees that your efforts will produce the right type of cat for your family once it outgrows its kitten personality.
Adult cats are often calmer, better trained and less mischievous. If you are looking for specific personality traits, adopting a mature cat who exhibits the temperament you seek makes more sense. An adult indoor cat will have already been litter box trained and will have indoor manners.
Children in your family
Young children often want an adorable kitten to call their own. Many parents adopt one without really considering whether or not their child is old enough. The Humane Society of America does not recommend adopting a kitten if you have young children. Kittens are fragile and children do not always understand what this means and often play too rough, which can injure the kitten. When this happens, you will have a veterinarian bill, a possible pet death and a very upset child.
If you remain convinced that a kitten is the right type of cat for your family, always be present to supervise and never leave the kitten alone with your child.
Cat breeds and personality
No two cat breeds are exactly alike, just as no two cats are exactly alike in temperament or personality. There are ways to pin down the type of cat you want by studying breed guidelines. Some breeds of cats are mellow and want companionship, but require a lot of attention. Others prefer not to be touched as much and live a more independent life. One of the most important considerations for how to choose the right cat for your family is to decide what personality will best blend with your family’s lifestyle.
Cat size and fur type
Some cat breeds are quite large while others are smaller. Depending upon the size of your home and any physical limitations you or other family members may have, it is a good idea to determine the mature size of a particular breed of cat you have in mind.
Also consider grooming requirements and extra cleaning chores for long-haired cats. Do you or your family have the time for these extra tasks? If not, can you afford a professional groomer? Long-haired cats need to be groomed on a weekly basis or their fur will become matted in knots.
Pedigree or mixed breed
If you have very specific requirements in mind, carefully research breed guidelines and breeders in your area. Be aware that many breeds are prone to certain types of medical problems. Reputable breeders will offer health guarantees with their kittens for a specific period of time.
Often mixed-breed cats are healthier because their gene pool is more diverse. Animal shelters are filled with cats needing homes. By becoming acquainted with a couple at the shelter that catch your eye, you can evaluate their personality and consider a “test” home visit, an option now offered by many shelters.
Other family pets
Before bringing a new cat into your home, it is only fair to consider the needs of your existing pets. Most cats can eventually learn to get along with other cats when careful introduction steps are followed. Cats and dogs can live in harmony if their temperaments match, but there are high-strung, aggressive dogs that will not accept a cat in their home. Birds in a cage will engage any cat for long periods of time. However, even if the bird is safe, it can become stressed or traumatized if left alone in the home with the cat.
Making the decision to adopt a cat requires more than just a big heart. It requires assuming a responsible and realistic attitude. Learning how to choose the right type of cat for your family also demands an investment of your time. This is a small price to pay to be sure that your new cat quickly becomes a beloved member of your family.
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