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5 Expert Tips on Choosing the Right Cat for You (2021 Guide)

savannah cat looking at something

Cats have an average life span of 13 to 17 years. They’re a long-term investment and relationship, so it’s essential to make sure that both people and cats find a perfect match with each other.

There are many things to consider and boxes to check off when you start thinking of bringing home a new cat. It’s easy to get lost in the details as you think about what kind of cat you want to bring home.

Therefore, we’ve laid out some expert tips that will help you stay grounded and anchored as you start to choose the right cat for you.

1. Consider How Much Time and Money You Have

It’s no surprise that adding a cat to your home will take up more of your time and money. Here’s how they can specifically affect your living expenses and your time.

Neva Masquerade cat in shiny blue bench
Image Credit: Oleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock

Cat Living Expenses

There are upfront costs of purchasing the cat and additional supplies. Here are some things that you will have to buy before bringing a cat home:

There are upfront costs of purchasing the cat and additional supplies. Here are some things that you will have to buy before bringing a cat home:
  • Food and water bowls
  • Food and treats
  • Litter box and cat litter
  • Carrying crate
  • Scratching post
  • Grooming tools
  • Cat bed or perch
There are also several ongoing expenses that you will have to cover throughout the cat’s lifetime:
  • Annual vet bills
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm medication
  • Cat litter
  • Cat food and treats
  • Toys
  • Replacing litter boxes and scratching posts or mats

These costs will vary depending on where you live, so make sure to do your research on the average expenses that cat owners have to pay in your area. One significant expense to look into is the average rate for veterinary care.

Cats can develop a health condition later in their life that can require more veterinary care. Some cat breeds have specific genetic health concerns, and treating and monitoring these issues can become very expensive.

Cats Are a Time Commitment

Along with money, cats will also take up more of your time. Contrary to popular belief, not all cats are independent and require minimal attention. There are many cats that love being around their humans and interacting with them.

Depending on your cat’s personality, you might spend a lot of time playing with them. If they have long, thick coats, you will have to spend both time and money keeping them well-groomed.

It’s also important to consider if you want to bring home a kitten or an adult cat. Kittens are more likely to live longer with you than an adult cat that already has a few years under its belt.

Also, kittens are adorable, but they’re very energetic and need a playmate. Adult cats tend to be calmer, and they’re more established in their personalities, so you have a better idea of what to expect when they live in your home. They can be more independent than kittens, but again, not all cat breeds enjoy solitude.

cat breeder and his devon rex cat
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

2. Do Research on Different Cat Breeds

Different cat breeds will have their own unique temperaments and care needs. It’s important to learn about certain qualities and traits that can affect and change your daily life. Here are some questions to include in your research:

Here are some questions to include in your research:
  • Is the cat breed more independent or social?
  • Can the cat breed be an indoor cat or outdoor cat?
  • Does the cat breed have high energy or low energy?
  • What grooming needs does the cat breed have?

Answering these questions will start to help you figure out certain cat breeds that may be the right match for you.

young woman working with her pet cat
Image Credit: ORION PRODUCTION, Shutterstock

3. Make a List of Cat Breeds that Match Your Lifestyle

Once you start gathering information on different cat breeds, start narrowing your search to cats that match your lifestyle. This can really help create a harmonious home for both you and your cat. Consider the following factors as you search for a cat.

Your Living Situation

Introducing a cat to the rest of your family or roommates can have a strong impact on dynamics. If you find the right kind of cat, it can bring a lot of joy to your home. However, a cat that isn’t a good fit can create a lot of stress and strain on existing relationships.

If you have young children in your home, make sure to find a cat that has a patient temperament. If a cat prefers solitude, it may prefer living in smaller households or with just its owner. Some cats would rather be in the middle of a lot of action so they might do better in homes with multiple people where there are fewer occurrences when they’re by themselves.

Overall, make sure you know if a cat plays well with children and needs a lot of attention or prefers to be left alone.

The type of home you live in can also contribute to whether or not a cat is a right fit. For example, if you bring home a cat that prefers to be outdoors, it won’t do best living in a high-rise apartment where it’s not free to roam outside on its own.

Other Pets in the House

Some cats do well with other pets, while others may be more territorial, and they should be the only pet in the house.

The type of pets you already have can affect the kind of cat you bring home. Certain cat breeds have a strong prey drive, so they won’t do well with smaller pets. Some cat breeds have confident and brave personalities, so they can handle living with dogs.

Your Availability

Some cats need more attention than others. They may require more time due to factors like companionship or grooming. If you’re often out of the house, make sure to find a more independent cat breed. If you’re typically home or there’s usually a person in the house, you can bring home a cat that loves and thrives on human companionship.

Cat owners who don’t have time to commit to a cat’s grooming needs should opt for a short-haired cat. Some long-haired cats can pass with minimal grooming, but many cats with double or triple coats require more time for brushing and bathing to ensure their coats are healthy and mat-free.

young boy playing with cat
Image Credit: Ilona Ilyés, Pixabay

4. Don’t Hesitate to Ask the Breeder or Shelter Questions

It’s vital to find a reputable breeder or animal shelter because you want to make sure that you bring home a healthy cat. When you visit a breeder or animal shelter, make sure that the facilities are clean and that the cats generally appear healthy. Reputable breeds will also be a member of cat registries, such as the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

A good breeder and animal shelter representative should be open and willing to answer any of your questions. Make sure to ask about a cat’s or kitten’s health and vaccination records. You can also ask about the cat’s personality and preferences. If you’re meeting a breeder, you can ask to meet the kitten’s parents and about the kitten’s pedigree.


5. Spend Time with Cats

Once you’ve found some reputable breeders and animal shelters, it’s time to interact and spend time with any potential cats you’d want to bring home.

When you interact with a cat, look for any obvious signs of health concerns. It should have a clean coat and be at a healthy weight.

Most breeders and animal shelters have spaces where you can spend time with a cat. Some cats may be shy with strangers and be more reserved, so their natural personalities might not shine through during your first encounter with them.

You can always ask the breeder or animal shelter staff about the cat’s personality. Not all cats will have temperaments that match their breed’s typical characteristics. So, it’s important to get to know a cat for its unique personality.

It’s not just important for a cat to match your lifestyle. You should also feel a connection with the cat. Be patient and wait for the cat to approach you. With permission, you can try to gain a little more trust by feeding the cat treats. If the cat has a favorite toy, you can use the toy to play with the cat.

Cats are adorable, but don’t let that distract you. If your gut is telling you to try playing with a different cat, listen to it. Having a good connection with a cat is more important than looks and breed type.

colorpoint cat avoiding human touch
Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock

Conclusion

Bringing home a cat can create some significant changes in your life. Therefore, the right cat and owner need to find each other. Remember that searching for the right cat doesn’t mean finding a perfect cat, just like how there’s no such thing as a perfect cat owner.

There’s going to be a learning curve for both a cat and cat owner, but it certainly helps to bring home a cat that matches your lifestyle so that you have an easier time adjusting to each other.

Finding the right cat may take some time, but cats can become very beloved family members and wonderful companions. If you find a good match, it’ll be worth the time and investment you put into your search. Soon, you’ll get to a point where you just can’t imagine living your life without your cat.


Featured Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

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