I consider myself something of an expert on cat ownership. Over the years, I’ve had probably 35 or 40 different cats and due to the amazing variety of personalities that cats can have, I’ve learned a lot and maybe it will help you if you are looking for a kitty to love.
I got my first cat for my sixth birthday. My Mom arranged for a neighbor boy to bring the cat over and he arrived at our doorstep with a tiny striped tabby kitten in his pocket. It was love at first sight and we were inseparable. I was an only child (well, much-older and married sister). So often my cats were my only playmates.
|Yes, that is adorable six-year-old me with my cat Aladdin
and her two kittens Aladdin Junior and Bob – hey, I was six!
After that, we always had cats of every possible variety, sex, size, and age – usually 3 or 4 of them at a time. Sadly, my Mom would let them go outside, so many of them met sad ends. Now that I’m an adult, I’m a lot more careful with my cats, and keep them safely inside.
Cat or Kitten?
So the first important question – cat or kitten? Unless you have a burning desire to do a good deed by rescuing an adult cat from the shelter – they have a ton of them, but they often have “litter box issues”. I would get a kitten. Unlike puppies, they are a piece of cake to train, and when you raise them yourself, you can socialize them correctly from the start. I start my kittens in a bathroom or small storage area with just a litterbox and their food and water.
There are 3 reasons why I do this:
1. To cement their litterbox habits. This usually isn’t a problem as long as they are left with the mother for at least 6 weeks. She will train them for you, and usually (fingers crossed!) they will remember it for life.
2. To keep them safe. Little kittens haven’t much sense, and they can chew on electrical cords, strangle themselves on window blinds, or have stuff fall on them. Or they can just get lost in the house somewhere and if they are very shy, you will have a hard time finding them.
3. To protect them from adult cats. Adult cats are usually pretty tolerant of kittens once they get used to the idea, but at first, they usually will freak out and scare the kitten. We carefully supervise all interactions for the first few weeks.
We let them out whenever I am home and spend lots of time snuggling and socializing my kittens and gradually introducing them to the adult cats. I will NEVER have another puppy so long as I live (they are just SO much work), but a kitten is usually a pure joy to have.
Male or female?
I have strong feelings on this. Male and female cats to me are totally different creatures and as in all things, I prefer males. I have 3 sons, a husband, a male dog, a male cat (plus a female kitty we inherited from a neighbor) and I prefer to work with men at work.
In my opinion, they are just lots easier, plus I think they are friendlier. I’ve had a good mix of male and female cats. I think the male cats (always neutered – so they aren’t true males) are more loving, less prone to health problems, and just more mellow in general.
Most of our females have been extremely smart, but VERY independent. Mostly the “you-may-pet-me,-you-peasant” variety. Notice that I said MOST – I have had some females who were clingy in the extreme and insisted on being petted constantly, and I’ve had some males who were super smart, but always friendly.
So, it depends on what you want – lots of love and attention – male. More independent and can be admired from afar – female.
Purebred vs. regular cats?
I can’t really answer that one. Most of ours have been rescues of one type or another – either neighborhood rescues or kittens we’ve bought from the shelter. I’m always amazed at the money people are willing to shell out on purebred dogs, but most of the time, you can’t GIVE a cat away. I think that is just universal injustice.
If you mix dogs wrong, you can get some very ugly and messed up dogs. Not so with cats – you can mix them up every which way and still get the cutest cats ever. So, I would go purebred only if you are looking for something very specific – I would love a ragdoll or a pixie-bob – they are supposed to have unique personalities. I’ve also heard that Maine Coons are great cats, but I’ve had great luck with just regular cats.
Now, here is my opinion on some different varieties of cats I have had. Note, this is only my opinion – your mileage may vary, but I’ve had several of each type, so I think I’ve got some good stereotypes going here.
I have had several of these over the years as did my Mom and they were always our favorites. They are extremely smart – will do tricks, understand simple commands quite well, and are very talkative. I’ve never had one with a litterbox problem, and they have been the most affectionate cats for me.
I have a Birman currently and he stays by my side constantly – he even snuggles under the covers and naps with me. I feel like I can just tell he really loves me, as much as a cat is capable.
If you’re wondering what a Birman is – they are characterized by four white mittens (or gloves) on their feet, but can come in a variety of generally Siamese color variations. My Yeti is a beautiful Birman that I got from a pet shop – the one cat I actually bought because I couldn’t resist him. He has ice blue eyes, and tons of soft, fluffy cream-colored fur that gets EVERYWHERE. I tell him he’s too pretty to be a boy, but he is definitely the alpha male of all time, even when he was too tiny to back it up. He has picked fights with every cat that has crossed a toe into this house, and he’s quite nosy with the human visitors too. He always has to come and see what they are doing here.
I tell him he’s too pretty to be a boy, but he is definitely the alpha male of all time, even when he was too tiny to back it up. He has picked fights with every cat that has crossed a toe into this house, and he’s quite nosy with the human visitors too. He always has to come and see what they are doing here.
I’ve had more grey cats than anything. Everything from your basic grey tabby to Smoke Persians, and Russian Blues (I think I’ve had two of those). They tend to be sociable and smart, very loving, totally easy-going, fairly quiet cats. Mine tend to be quiet anyway because I talk to them a lot. If a cat feels “heard” and like you are playing attention to their needs and wants, they typically won’t just randomly meow a lot. After my Himalayans, grey cats are my absolute favorites.
|Shamus O’Sullivan (Guess when we got HIM – St. Patty’s Day!) being
adorable and helping me pack for a trip.
I’ve had four or five calicos (calicoes?) – both tortiseshell (black background), and traditional white background. And every one of them has been pretty much the same. Very smart, very independent, very female (calicoes are genetically female with a rare sterile male). They clearly consider you staff rather than family, but they are gorgeous cats.
|This is Lucy-fur! Sweet kitty, but dumb as a rock and crazy to boot!|
I’ve had a number of black cats and I like them. But they are always a bit mysterious and I think a little more stand-offish and skittery than grey ones. Nike was my second-favorite cat after Yeti. He was a Tuxedo cat – black with a white vee on his face and chest and white paws. He had high tops in the back, low tops in the front. That’s why we called him Nike Sneakers Frankenweenie (the boys had a part in it too!).
Like Yeti, he was almost scary smart. I’ll bet he had a 50-word vocabulary of words he clearly understood, and had a very feisty personality where other animals were concerned. He would chase a German Shepherd without any hesitation. We had him for 17 years and he clearly ruled the roost!
|Nike Sneakers – Tuxedo cat|
I’ve just had a couple of these. They are gorgeous cats, but they are known to be extremely vocal and I think a bit prissy. Not the type of cat you can just roll around on the floor or play fetch with.
Orange cats are fairly rare as are most redheads. I’ve only had one orange tabby and he was a nightmare. The only cat we could never get to use a litterbox. We lived in an apartment, so he didn’t get to stay long. I would leave him in a bathroom with nothing but a litterbox and would find a small lake in the morning. I know some people love them but I tend to steer clear of them.
So, there’s my cat menu – take your pick and take your chances. My best advice is to pick the smartest cat you can find. Smart cats make great companion animals. They can easily be taught to do simple tricks like fetch items or sit up and beg for treats. And they typically don’t have the dreaded litter box issues, which is a problem I’ve never been able to resolve.