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How to choose the right cat breed

Virginia Blackburn / 07 August 2015

Whether you live in a flat or a sprawling country house, there are cat breeds to suit all locations. Find out which cat breed is best for your circumstances.

Choosing the right cat
Ragdoll cats are very popular with children because they go limp when picked up

Cats have never been more popular: according to the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Pep Population report in 2014, 13 million households have pets – 46 per cent – and of those, 14 per cent, or 7.9 million, have at least one cat. Who could blame them? Mysterious and beautiful, these graceful creatures provide both companionship and practical assistance – it’s a rare cat owner who has a problem with mice. But different cats suit different households. Which one is best for you?

Life in a village

To be honest, just about any cat will suit life in a village. The first evidence of cats living with humans comes from a 9,500 year old Cyprus grave, which contains both human and feline remains and cats have been constants ever since.

Life in a city and indoor cats

City living tends to mean smaller houses or flats and in some cases the cat will have to stay indoors – not a cruelty as long as you choose your breed carefully and understand that an indoor cat must have been one all its life.

British shorthairs, with their quiet and friendly temperaments, are ideal housecats, as are Persians, which are placid and friendly. However, Persians with their long fur do require daily grooming, so you might want to consider a short haired Persian, known as an Exotic. They have the same flat face and calm character, but a lot less fur.

Ragdolls are ideal indoor cats, playful as they are, and there are some people who believe they should only be kept indoors. They are very friendly and gentle, but they do need attention too.

Life with children

As a general rule, cats that live with children should not be too territorial and be able to put up with crashes and bangs and being pawed about. Make sure your chosen breed is not prone to biting, either. Russian Blues are affectionate and playful as are Abyssinians and Birmans are extremely easy going.

Burmese cats are very good with children, Manx cats are sociable and Persians love lots of attention, although see the grooming note above. Ragdolls, which go limp when picked up, are also very popular with children.

Life with dogs

Not all cats and dogs fight like cats and dogs, although it does make it easier for everyone if you introduce them when they’re kittens and puppies. Japanese Bobtails are energetic and playful, Turkish Angoras have energy and can outsmart anyone, especially a hound, Siberians come from Siberia, which means they are tough little creatures and Maine Coons are very laidback. They also have rather more in common with our canine friends than most cats, as some of them will not only fetch a ball but will tolerate being put on a leash.

Life on a farm

Many cats on farms will be working cats, expected not only to sing for their supper but to provide it for themselves by way of keeping the rodent population down.

These cats will not usually be pedigrees, but tough little moggies, in some cases semi-feral.

If you want to do a good deed in the cat world then it is worth consulting cat rescue organisations, who may have cats that are not suitable as domestic pets but will work their passage on a farm. Alternatively, get kittens bred to working mothers from other farms.

Allergic owners

People who are allergic to cats are actually allergic to the cat’s saliva which is spread around during grooming and so should avoid long haired cats. There are no cats which are totally hypoallergenic, but the following breeds are easier to live with: Balinese (actually quite long haired but produces less of the culprit, the Fel D1 protein), Siberian (ditto), Oriental shorthairs, Javanese, which have longish coats but not undercoat, the Devon and Cornish Rexes and the hairless Sphynx.

But whatever your situation, don’t rule out other breeds of cat or moggies, which can be as delightful as any pure bred. Just remember to make sure you see any kitten in the situation it has been reared in and check that it has been handled regularly and is used to human contact. A lifetime of pleasure awaits.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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