Which Cat Breed Is Right For Me?

kittens in a basket

So you have decided to add a new cat to your family. That is exciting news! But now you need to find the perfect kitty – how do you know which cat breed is right for you?

When deciding on the perfect cat breed for you or your family, it’s important to consider factors related to the size, activity level, grooming requirements, and temperament of the breed. You will also need to consider cost, to make sure you pick a breed that fits your budget.

This article will discuss the different factors you should consider when deciding what breed of cat is right for you. Read on to learn more about how to choose the right one for your family.

Why It Is Important To Find The Right Breed Of Cat For You

Sometimes we don’t pick the kitten, it picks us. Sometimes it happens in the spur of the moment when we lay eyes on a fluffy ball of fur and instantly fall in love. Other times we may not be sure what we’re looking for and end up with a personality type or breed that isn’t quite the right fit.

It’s important to pick the right cat for you because, if you don’t, you may end up with a cat that just doesn’t mesh with your lifestyle or your family.

For example, if you are busy person then a cat that demands a lot of attention in time is not a good choice. If you have small children then a small or nervous type is not likely a good choice.

A pet that is not a good fit for you or your family may end up getting rehomed or, even worse, euthanized because it is unwanted.

How To Figure Out What Breed Of Cat Is Right For You

A good place to start is to go through the list of things you need to consider and then use your responses from those to research different breeds, looking for ones with those traits that are most important to you.

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a cat breed;

  • Size
  • Temperament
  • Energy level and exercise needs
  • Shedding
  • Grooming needs
  • Cost
  • Breed health risks
brown tabby munchkin kitten

What Size Of Cat Breed Should I Get?

When considering what size of cat breed to get, the cat that you think you want may not necessarily be the cat you should get.

For example, you may think you want a large breed cat like a Maine Coon or a Savannah cat; however, these cats are not a good fit if you live in a small apartment due to their size and activity levels. Likewise, if you are looking for a lap cat you also may not want a large breed cat.

On the other hand, if your family is loud and boisterous with active children about, then a small, timid cat would not be a good choice. You want a cat that isn’t bothered by all the activity and is big enough that it won’t get hurt too easily.

If you have room in your life for a large cat breed, then here are some that fit the bill:

  • Maine Coon Cat
  • Ragdoll Cat
  • Ragamuffin Cat
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Siberian Cat
  • Savannah Cat

Note that the Savannah cat breed is a hybrid of a wild cat and a domestic cat, and is not legal to own in many jurisdictions.

The smallest cat breeds include:

  • Singapura Cat
  • Dwelf Cat
  • Munchkin Cat
  • American Curl
  • Siamese Cat
  • Devon Rex

If you are looking for a small cat breed, then remember that the females of all breeds tend to be smaller than the males. This means that a male from a smaller breed can easily be bigger than a female from a medium-sized breed.

As an example, my daughter has two Devon Rex cats, a male and a female. The female is a pretty little petite cat, weighing in at just 7 pounds. The male, on the other hand, is a big boy, with a winter weight that approaches 14 pounds – not “small” at all!

What Is The Best Cat Temperament For Me?

If you have young children in your home, one of the most important considerations is temperament. Some breeds are naturally more gentle and patient than others, and these qualities can make a big difference in getting along with kids. 

Some of the cat breeds known for having a gentle disposition include:

  • Maine Coon Cat
  • Ragdoll Cat
  • British Shorthair Cat
  • Himalayan Cat
  • Birman cat
  • Manx Cat

If you are looking for an active cat that likes to spend a lot of time with you, talk to you, play with and maybe even take for walks, then consider these breeds:

bengal cat in a tree

Energy Level And Exercise Needs

The energy level and exercise needs of a cat breed should also be taken into account. The great thing about cats, though, is that they can get their exercise indoors, and do not need to be taken outdoors as dogs do.

Some breeds, such as the Bengal, have high activity levels and require more space to roam. Size is a factor here as well, as large breed cats like the Maine Coon need ample space to run and play.

My Bengal cat is still a kitten, yet she uses my whole house at least twice daily to get her exercise in. I lose count of the number of laps that she does from one end of the house to the other, over, around, and under the furniture.

Fortunately, I have another cat that likes to play and run as well, so they help each other get their exercise. I honestly think they’d go crazy in a small apartment without enough space for their needs.

If you have a small living space or want a companion who is calm and quiet, you’ll want to avoid cats with high energy and exercise needs.

Shedding: What Is Your “Hair Tolerance” Level?

Some people don’t mind cat hair even when there’s a lot of it. Others, not so much. I have to admit that I was – and still am – in the latter group.

After my last dog passed away, I was without a pet for several years. I came to appreciate the absence of hair on my clothes, in the corners, floating in the air, and even my food! As much as I love animals, I was reluctant to change that.

Then came the opportunity to adopt a rescue Sphynx. A chance to have a cat again AND no hair! It was a win-win situation.

But no one stops at one cat. Soon, I had a Bengal kitten to keep the Sphynx company. As a kitten, she still isn’t shedding much, and as a shorthair breed it won’t be unbearable when it does start. Regular bathing and grooming will keep it in check, for the most part.

You will need to determine your own “hair tolerance” level. Hairless cats do have downy hair, but you will likely not even notice it. Shorthair cats shed, but the shorter hairs are less noticeable than that of longhair breeds.

If your hair tolerance is low, stay away from breeds with long, thick coats like the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Ragamuffin, and Persian breeds.

What Is The Cat Breed’s Grooming Needs?

Even if you don’t mind shed hair all over you and your house, those longhair breeds require regular grooming, or else they will get terribly matted. Are you ready for that? Grooming is beneficial for all breeds, but some require more than others.

Longhairs should be groomed every few weeks or months, depending on their coat type – the longer the hair, the more often you’ll need to groom. Even shorthair cats need to be brushed and bathed regularly, especially during seasonal shedding cycles.

If you are looking for a low-maintenance cat in terms of grooming, then look for cats that require minimal grooming maintenance such as the Sphynx, Bengal, Devon Rex, and other hairless or shorthair breeds.

However, don’t assume hairlessly or shorthair means no grooming. Hairless cats need regular bathing to help prevent oily buildup on their skin, but at least you don’t have to brush them all the time!

Some owners of cats with high grooming needs take their pets to the groomers every few months. This might be an option for you.

orange and white longhair cat

Are There Any Breed Health Risks?

Another factor to consider when choosing a cat breed is their health. Some cats are more prone to certain illnesses or genetic conditions than others.

For instance, the Persian and Himalayan breeds both have a risk of suffering from polycystic kidney disease, which can lead to renal failure. Large breeds like the Maine Coon are also predisposed to hip dysplasia, a condition that can cause lameness and arthritis.

Several breeds, such as the Bengal and the Maine Coon, are known to have genetic risks for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition that leads to congestive heart failure and reduced lifespan in affected cats.

The best thing to do is research the breed’s health risks and talk to your vet or breeder about them before you bring home a new cat. Reputable breeders will do testing to screen for genetic diseases, but for some diseases, there are no tests.

Cost: How Much Am I Willing To Spend?

Last but not least, consider your budget. Some breeds are more expensive than others, so you will need to decide how much you are willing to spend on a cat.

For example, purebred cats tend to cost more than crossbreeds or mogs (mixed-breed cats). The cost of the cat is also determined by whether you are looking for a pet-only or show-quality cat.

The rarer the breed, the more it is going to cost you. Hybrid breeds, such as the Savannah cat, are very expensive and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most other breeds start at around $1000 to $1500 for purebreds and go up from there.

Some breeds require more frequent care, such as the Persian cat which needs regular bathing and brushing. This can add up over time in terms of grooming expenses.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the perfect cat, start by making a list of the characteristics you would look for in a cat. Then take a few minutes to read up on the different breeds and their characteristics to narrow the list.

You can also visit your local shelter or rescue center to meet cats of various breeds and talk to experienced owners about their experiences. You can also research online, comparing different breeds and reading reviews from other owners.

Taking time in advance to research the right cat breed for you is a smart move. It will help you avoid spur-of-the-moment decisions, and help ensure that you get a pet that’s just right for your lifestyle.

kitten, white, cat

Author

  • Dr. Wendy Wilkins, DVM, PhD

    Dr. Wendy Wilkins is an experienced veterinarian and epidemiologist with over 20 years of expertise. She holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and a Doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Throughout her career, Dr. Wilkins has excelled in clinical practice, academia, research, and regulatory veterinary medicine. She is a respected voice in knowledge dissemination, delivering factual information in a readable and understandable manner through articles, books, and public engagements.

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