Looking after a cat is not particularly difficult, and it has been helped greatly by the availability of prepared, balanced foods, plus other items such as specially designed grooming tools. Even so, there can be significant differences in terms of both care and character between the pedigree breeds which you should consider before finalising your choice. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a cat which is incompatible with your lifestyle.
You need to choose a breed carefully, based on the time which you have available for tasks such as grooming.
Longhaired cats are far more demanding in terms of care than their shorthaired cousins.
Most of the special needs of cats stem from their appearance, which is why, generally, an ordinary shorthaired moggie cat is the easiest type to care for, with its coat requiring minimal brushing. At the other extreme, Persian Longhairs need to be groomed on a daily basis, so as to prevent their long, flowing coats becoming matted.
The compact face of these cats and similar breeds such as Colourpoint Longhairs means that the drainage of tear fluid from their eyes can also be a problem, sometimes running out of the corner of the eyes down over the fur. You therefore need to be prepared to wipe this area regularly in order to keep the fur clean. A similar problem may also arise at the other end of the body in the case of longhaired cats particularly when they are suffering from digestive upsets.
ODD COAT PROBLEMS
Other changes in the coat have also had an effect on the needs of particular cats, as with the various Rex breeds. In such cases, grooming is very straightforward, but you need to watch out for the problem called ‘stud tail’, which is caused by an excessive output of oil from the glands at the base of the tail. This area will need to be washed off to prevent the risk of infection developing here. You must also ensure that such cats do not become chilled, because of their relatively thin covering of hair, when the weather is cold.
The situation is even more pronounced in the case of the rare Sphynx breed, which is virtually hairless. Not only are such cats at risk from the cold, they are also vulnerable to sunburn as well, and they require close supervision as a result.
You can obtain combs with rotating teeth which are especially useful for grooming longhaired cats. The rollers effectively massage the hairs gently apart, breaking down minor mats, rather than pulling them — and causing the cat discomfort — as will occur with an ordinary comb.
White cats which have one or both eyes blue in colour are likely to be partially or totally deaf. They are therefore more vulnerable to passing traffic.
Cats do not suffer from the relatively high incidence of inherited or congenital problems seen in dogs, although Siamese are occasionally afflicted by a squint and a kink in the tail.
There can be significant differences in behaviour between different breeds of cat. Persian Longhairs for example are less active than Siamese, so plan your home (or choose your breed) accordingly. Siamese are athletic climbers, and liable to knock over ornaments even on top shelves.
Another aspect that varies with breed is the age at which a cat matures. As a general guide, the bigger breeds take longer to mature than smaller ones. Siamese and Oriental cats are often able to breed at the age of six months. At the other extreme, Ragdolls and Maine Coons may not mature until they are over a year old.