Selecting a feline companion

Owning a cat or a kitten is a great experience and they make wonderful companions.

Welcoming a cat or a kitten into your home is an exciting time for you and your family and there are many things to consider, such as their nutritional needs, caring for their health and wellbeing and your family. For example, if you have young children this may influence your choice of a kitten or an adult cat.

Take your time selecting a cat or kitten, there are a variety of breeds with different characteristics. Researching cat breeds will help you learn more about the different breeds, life spans, health concerns and general behavioural traits to help you make an informed choice. You can also choose to adopt a cat or a kitten from a shelter such as the RSPCA or the Cat Protection Society.

If your family have agreed on a particular breed, where do you find a breeder? Look for a responsible breeder who belongs to the registered body in each state and territory. The Australian National Cats Inc (ANCATS) is the national body for registered cat breeders and operate under a Code of Ethics.

There are many beautiful breeds to consider but keep in mind that a pure breed kitten will be at a different price point than a cat or kitten from a rescue group or shelter. Compliant breeders can provide certified pedigree certificates detailing the generations within the bloodlines. Compliant breeders are also required to ensure various health testing (specific to breed) has been conducted.

Please be aware of non-compliant breeders, those who are not registered and are not breeding to meet the pet welfare and the future of the breed.  Hundreds of thousands of cats and kittens find themselves in rescue shelters each year, which may be a result of non-compliant breeders, stray and/or roaming cats and kittens, and feral cats.

You may like to consider reputable rescue groups or adoption shelters.  You will find cats, and at times kittens, looking for forever homes.  Rescue groups and shelters work tirelessly to rehome cats and kittens. Cats and kittens are vets checked to ensure they are medically and behaviourally sound prior to adoption, which includes desexing, vaccination and microchipping.

Some considerations:

Boy’s Vs Girls

There are many opinions around the age-old debate about who’s the better sex – boys or girls?  There really is no clear winner, but we each may have preferences that influence our decision.  Generally, all cats are independent and seem quite self-sufficient, but it is important to remember that they all require lots of care and affection from their pet parents. Whether a cat is an indoor cat or can go outside during the day they will display their natural behaviour for their surroundings and their personality. Ensure you provide a rich stimulating environment that safeguards their health and welfare.

Long-Hair Vs Short Hair

Cats self-groom however all cats should be brushed at least weekly decreasing the occurrence of hairballs and preventing tangles. All cats shed but there is more work in a long-haired cat which should be brushed or combed daily or every few days.

Cats and kittens should be generally checked over by their pet parent each month, checking their claws, ears, eyes, coat and skin, teeth/mouth, and movement.

Living with Children

Most cats tolerate and engage with children well; however, we would suggest that children should not be left alone with any animal. In many instances, cats will enjoy the company of children, and pet owners can be one of the most enriching relationships you can offer your child.  Teach your child to be kind to animals and to handle them with kindness. If a cat no longer wishes to engage, look for the cues and allow them to hide or seek refuge.

There’s no one size fits all when bringing a cat into your family, and in typical cat fashion a cat or kitten may choose you.  A pedigree, a domestic or crossbreed cat can prove to be the perfect cat for you.

Spend time with a cat or kitten before taking it home. Whether purchasing from a breeder, a rescue group or shelter it is important to have the opportunity to engage with the cat/kitten. If you are purchasing from a breeder, watch how the kitten interacts with the breeders, its parents and siblings, and ask for information about the health and longevity of the breeding lines.

Good nutrition is essential and we would recommend age-appropriate food from a PFIAA Member. Check your food is suitable for the life stage of your kitten or cat, considering their size, activity level and environment. You may want to consult a veterinarian to confirm if you need to feed more or less food, and what kind of food is best suited to their needs.

While a Birman possesses dog-like attributes, a Siamese cat loves to talk, a Ragdoll cat is known for being quiet, affectionate, and docile or maybe you would like a spirited breed, then a Bengal may be for you.