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Finding the Perfect Cat or Kitten for You and Your Family


Some people say they are exclusively "cat people," meaning they only want to have a cat as a pet. That doesn't mean that just any cat will be the right companion. When choosing a cat to be your companion, be certain to make the choice that will work best for both you and the animal.

An athletic, highly energetic cat is fun to watch, but a cat can be a challenge to care for. A shy, sensitive cat probably wouldn't thrive in a home with lots of hullabaloo. The first step to choosing a cat is evaluating your lifestyle so you can find a cat with similar needs.

Some people only want a purebred, while others take great delight in their basic domestic crossbreed. Hair length is another decision to be made; long-haired cats require daily brushing and combing, but tend to shed less than short-haired cats. Do you have the time needed to raise a well-behaved kitten, or would a mature, mellow adult be a better companion? Once you have decided on what the right cat for you will be like, it's time to start the search.

Where Can You Find a Cat?

* Breeders: you should spend time researching to find a reputable breeder with years of experience

* Animal charities: these are usually a great source for a first time pet owner. The experienced and dedicated staff will be able to give you advice and knowledge

* Friends or neighbours: this can sometimes be a good source, as you will know where your pet has come from.

* Never buy through personal advertisements in papers - you don't know what you are getting

Whether you look for your feline friend at a local animal shelter or from a breeder, take your time and ask plenty of questions. When you find a cat that catches your attention, spend some time watching her, and watching her watch you. Does she vocalize to get your attention or act aloof? These behaviors can give you insight to a cat's personality.

Ask for the opportunity to interact with the cat. Is she shy around strangers such as yourself, but confident with her caretakers? Or is she skittish with everyone? Remember that a cat acts differently when a stranger is present, and that cats in shelters often act very different than they usually would because of the stressful environment. Most humane societies and animal rescue groups gather a history on each animal they take in. This can tell you what the cat's likes and dislikes are, whether it is comfortable around children or other cats, etc.

If you have other cats or dogs at home, consider their personalities when choosing a cat. If your existing cat is older than 10 years and used to being the only cat in the house, she might not welcome a newcomer. A dog with a high prey drive will be provoked by a high-energy kitten. If you have no pets at home, consider adopting two cats. Many animal shelters have special pricing for "two-for-ones," and the cats make great companions for on another when you are not home.

When you bring a cat into your home, you make a commitment to always meet her needs. Advances in cat nutrition and veterinary medicine mean that many cats live 15-20 years. If you buy a kitten for children remember the cat will be part of the family long after your kids have left home! Before you get a pet, be sure you can take care of it for life.

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