There are a huge number of pedigree cat breeds, and their number grows yearly, with new breeds constantly being developed. This article looks at their different physical characteristics, the way they behave, and the amount of care they need.
Choosing a pedigree cat is a big decision, especially for those cat lovers who have never had a cat of a specific breed before. It is easy to choose entirely by looks, and many people do this. However, it is far better to know a little about each breed's personality. Of course individual cats are all different, but there are certain traits exhibited by most members of a particular breed, and it is good to know about this. You also need to know how much care and attention your new cat is likely to need. So here is a brief overview of the different breeds available. It is divided into types in the way in which it is usually done at cat shows in the UK, but this is purely for simplicity.
Persian cats are beautiful, and have always been very popular, often topping the breed popularity list in both the UK and USA. Persians tend to be relaxed and laid-back in temperament, and many of them purr almost all the time. They are very relaxing cats to be around for this reason. Unlike some other breeds, they probably won't climb trees...or your curtains. But some people do prefer more lively cats, so Persians aren't for everyone.
However, the most important thing to know about Persians is that they need a great deal of care, with many of them requiring daily or even twice daily brushing. If you cannot spare this amount of time you should choose another breed, perhaps a semi-longhaired cat if you like the long-haired look. Every year, rescue organisations end up with Persians whose owners couldn't cope with the daily grooming; make sure you aren't one of them.
Those who like the Persian temperament but not the long hair may prefer an Exotic, which is a short-haired version of the Persian. This could perhaps give you the best of both worlds.
Included in this group are Birmans, Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, Siberians, Ragdolls, Somalis, and Turkish Vans. These cats will require less grooming than Persians, but you will still need to brush them at least once a week, and some of them need more grooming than this. Maine Coons, Norwegian Forset Cats, and Siberians tend to be intelligent and sociable. Maine Coons in particular are very vocal, and some of them talk to you all the time. Birmans are quieter, and some owners claim they are not very intelligent. Ragdolls are exceptionally laid-back and very friendly, although tales of them flopping in your arms like a ragdoll are somewhat exaggerated. Turkish Vans love water, to the extent of sometimes taking a bath with their owner! So you have quite a wide choice of personalities within the group.
British shorthaired cats are the ancestors of British moggies, and tend to be friendly and easy to take care of. They come in a huge variety of colours, and are extremely popular. Also included in this category are the tail-less Manx and - perhaps a little oddly from the point of view of categorisation - the curly coated Selkirk Rex cats. These have a temperament more like Persians, being quiet and laid-back, but they require very little grooming
These include the Russian Blue, Abyssinian, Cornish and Devon Rex, Tonkinese, Bengal, and some less common breeds. These cats are all short haired and easy to take care of, but they differ hugely in personality, and you should read up about them in detail before committing yourself. I have found Russian Blues to be quite vocal and demanding, but not everyone agrees about this.
Burmese cats are very popular and easy to take care of. However, they have strong personalities and need lots of attention from their owners. Those who are out at work all day may find their Burmese cat becomes depressed, and they would do well to acquire two of the breed, or perhaps get a cat which is better coping by itself.
Siamese and Orientals are lively, loud-voiced, and loving. However, even more than the Burmese, they want to be around their owners, and if left alone may become unhappy or even destructive. In this respect they are more like dogs than the average moggie or the more laid-back cat breeds. They always want to be top cats in a multi-cat household, and can be very domineering and bossy. So they may not mix in well if you have other cats, and you will need to be careful in a multi-cat household, particularly if you have a gentle cat such as a Persian, which may be thoroughly pushed around by a more dominant Siamese.
The above is of necessity only a brief overview, and the cats are divided as is done by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in the UK. Other countries – and indeed other cat organisations - may have different methods of categorisation, and indeed different breeds. And there are always new breeds coming along – if you want something unusual or different, look out for the Australian Mist, Nebelung, or Lykoi cats.
Prospective owners should do a lot of research into the different breeds, if at possible. One of the best ways of doing this is to go to a Cat Show, talk to breed owners, and if possible meet some of their cats. There are Cat Shows quite frequently all over the UK, and there is a list on the GCCF website. But hopefully this article has given you a bit of an idea as to what type of cat would be right for you. And remember, whatever cat you choose, it will most likely end up as the best cat in the world to you – and that is how things should be!