Picking The Right Cat
How to know which cat to adopt.
This can be easy or difficult.
Cats can have unique personalities. Some are in your face and purring. Others are aloof.
The question is, if you choose the wrong one… will it change? Perhaps. Some can be an actual challenge.
Nice if they were the perfect fit for your lifestyle.
How to improve the odds for that perfect cat.
First, decide if you want a male or female. Reminder, an altered cat is happier and healthier. The earlier the altering, the better for you and your pet. Males will have less desire to wander and less aggression. Females won’t go into heat and be more content.
I’m an advocate for indoor only cats. Only exception are barn cats, they catch mice. Confined indoors their entire life isn’t an issue. In fact, they will most likely live longer. No interaction with other cats that may have fleas, diseases, and no cat fights. No worries of attacks by other wildlife or hit by a vehicle.
A pampered indoor lifestyle will increase their chance of living a longer, happy life.
Do you have a breed in mind?
There are many breeds. This blog references Siamese because I understand them. They are challenging and fun. Every day, they make us laugh.
But many personality types exist within the various breeds. Persians are work with their long coats. Breathing problems are a concern with this breed.
Maine Coons are very large and easy going. They can be around 27 lbs. Which is a massive cat to lift. I can’t imagine one of those crashed on my lap.
How are the kittens raised?
Showed in cat shows for a 10 year stretch. Great place to decide what breed you fancy. An opportunity to chat with many breeders of the personality types. Are the kittens raised under foot? Or caged with little interaction with people?
Visited a few breeder’s homes over the years. The worst was when they had them confined in a tower (yay, it was a strange house) maybe 4 levels. Five of us, with the owners, ascended the tower to see their cats. Within seconds, they were flying off the chicken-wired enclosure, freaking out of control. To calm the cats, we vacated the room. Exquisite lilac point Siamese cats, but never considered buying from them after that episode.
When I raised kittens, we handled them from day one. Yep, I kissed them on the nose. I told my daughter and her friends to handle the kittens, just don’t stress out their mom. The interaction with human smells before their eyes opened made the transition simple once they had vision.
Ideal situation is for kittens to be handled on their first day. And continued until they go to their new home. Raised with love, a calm environment with adult male, female, and children. If there’s a dog and plenty of other cats, they should adjust well.
Of course, ideal… is not always possible.
How do you pick the right cat for you?
Most CFA breeders won’t sell a kitten before 4 months old. The plus is, the breeder knows the kitten’s personality.
I bought my last cat, Lucy, sight unseen from a reputable breeder I met in my cat showing days. I knew the quality of her cats and her policy, so no fear of not trusting her. She had 4 blue points, 2 male and 2 female. The littlest she told me had the best personality. Okay… that was the one I wanted. No plans to show the cat, but all her cats are show quality.
A breeder knows their kittens and with 4 months of rearing them will be able to determine if what you want is a match in personality.
How can you pick a cat if the options above don’t apply?
Are you getting one from a home? If so, ask to see the kitten’s parents. This was my mistake when I bought Andy many years ago. The male was out wandering around the kittens, being super friendly. Surprised that they confined the mother.
After a few years of raising Andy, he became aggressive. A sweetheart most times. Other times, he was unpredictable and out of control. Well, I’m sure his mother’s personality was similar. He loved cats and kittens, but not people. At 8 weeks, too young to identify his true personality.
You may choose to get a cat from the shelter. Wonderful. They also need a forever home. Inquire how the shelter has socialized the cat. Do they know the cat’s history? And the circumstances of how they acquired the cat or kitten.
The more history helps. But never a guaranty of how the animal will act in your environment. Are you willing to work with them when behaviors are not acceptable?
Since I raised kittens under foot, they learned how to interact with people. Having a teenager and her friends around helped to socialize them.
Taught the kittens not to bite or scratch when we played with them. A paw held when they started digging in or slight hold on their chin as they chomped down, stopped the behavior promptly.
Found it important for them to relax when having their claws clipped.
One kitten was shy and retreated to the den (the box at the bottom of the cat tree) I dragged him out where the others were. His confidence grew when he learned how to run. Like taking a shy kid and teaching them how to play with others.
Never give up on a cat. Try to commit unless the situation is impossible. The rewards just may be worth it.
Unfortunate, but not everyone is proactive in raising sociable kittens. Some kittens are just ignored. To expect them to interact with people on their own is irresponsible.
Molly, I got from a breeder after the first one I had purchased from her died from kidney failure. Leaving the second one I bought from her as an only cat. She (Maggie) cried and cried looking for her. To our horrors, she was losing weight. Time to get a companion. Number 3 cat from the breeder looked very similar to the one that died. Maggie stopped crying and resorted to hissing at the intruder. But now she was putting on weight. (Maggie’s Story)
Molly was 2 1/2 years old. The breeder had no kittens when I needed a new cat for Maggie.
Molly was terrified of her new home. Could I continue with this recent addition? But for Maggie’s sake, I hung in there, determined to make it work. Here is Molly’s story.
When she learned how to purr, she purred if I talked to her.
Maggie died when Molly was 10 1/2 years old. She loved the status of being an only cat. Her first few years were troubled. Was only fair to let her be number one cat.
It took work to socialize her. She never hissed, scratched, or bit anyone.
Seven years of giving her love, she became quite the social animal when people visited. Insistent on navigating visitor’s laps or in their face with purrs.
Molly never got on counters or dressers. Only scratched on the little scratching board we got for her. I’m glad I put the effort into making her part of the family. Molly deserved a good life, and she blessed us with her unconditional love.
Part of picking the right cat is deciding what cat you want. Male, female, breed, or a mixed breed. Are you committed to making the new relationship work? Handle the cat before you take it home and realize it might be terrified of the new surroundings.
How to handle the unhappy cat.
You can let them get used to their new home on their terms. Hiding in another room isn’t the best solution. Molly hid under a desk. I dragged her out and closed the bedroom doors.
She had the kitchen, living room, and bathroom. The latter wasn’t a friendly option for her, and the kitchen lacked hiding places. I pulled the love seat away from the wall to keep her from remaining there to hide. She had a few limited escape routes, so she had more exposure to us and Maggie. She bonded with Maggie first. Took months for her to trust me enough to sit on my lap.
Don’t expect miracles. They might not love and accept their new forever home at first. The experience is daunting for them. Most cats need time, others adjust to their new environment quickly.
Have you ever had to really work at getting a cat comfortable in their new home?
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