Getting a cat

Deciding to get a new cat is so exciting, but also can raise lots of questions. For example, what breed would you like? Can you handle the challenges of a cheeky kitten, or would a calmer senior cat suit your lifestyle more?
Getting a Cat
Getting a Cat
Getting a cat

Indoor safety

When getting a new cat, it’s important to think this through thoroughly, but once you know the answers, you can look forward to a future of cuddly companionship and lots of fun with your furry friend.

So, where do you start and what can you expect from a feline addition to the family?

Why cats make the perfect companion

There's no doubt about it, cats make great pets. After all, what’s better to come home to at the end of a tough day than a contented purr from a loving bundle of fur?

Studies have shown that pet owners are generally healthier and happier than non-pet owners, but remember that getting a cat is a big responsibility and a lifetime commitment. When you are ready to make this commitment, there are several advantages of cat-ownership that you can look forward to:

  • Owning a cat has been proven to reduce stress.
  • Cat owners generally have lower blood pressure than non-pet owners.
  • You can benefit from a stronger immune system and recover from illnesses faster than non-pet owners.
  • Children growing up with cats generally have fewer days sick than those who don’t have pets.
  • Cats are very loving and full of character, but also treasure their own independence, meaning they can be less high-maintenance than other pets.
  • Cats can help people recover quicker from emotional traumas, such as bereavement."

There are lots of benefits to owning a cat, but it’s important to choose your cat carefully to make sure you’re well suited to your fluffy friend. The cat you choose will depend on your lifestyle and personal preference. For example, you might want a senior cat you can cuddle on your lap, or have a special breed in mind that you’d like to raise from a kitten.

Our PetCare experts suggest some points to consider below before making the commitment to get a cat.

What breed of cat should I get?

Pedigree cat sitting upright

There are over 60 different recognised breed and colour varieties of pedigree domestic cat in the UK, meaning that you have lots to choose from when buying a cat. Pedigree cats come in seven basic varieties:

  • Persians
  • British
  • Semi-Longhair
  • Burmese
  • Oriental
  • Siamese
  • Foreign

The greatest advantage of buying a pedigree kitten or cat is that you should know something about what to expect from your pet. For example, a pure-bred Siamese is more likely to be vocal, mischievous and demanding of your attention. Buying a pedigree kitten should also give you an insight into how big the kitten will grow up to be, how long their coat will be and any breed-specific health problems that they might experience.

It’s important to remember that unfortunately inter-breeding sometimes occurs, which can mean that pedigree cats are more vulnerable to genetically inherited disease or behavioural issues. This, and other information specific to a breed should all be considered carefully when getting a cat.

For more information about pedigree breeds and how to choose a cat, take a look at our breed selector.

The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy can provide a comprehensive list of breeds in the UK, with links to their official breed clubs. Further information is also available on the International Cat Care website.

Crossbreeds have two pedigree, but different breed, parents. In fact, many new pedigree breeds have been created through careful crossbreed matches (for example, the Tonkinese was created by crossing the Siamese with the Burmese).

Whilst some crossbreeding happens on purpose to create a new breed, most cases today will be the result of an accidental mating, where a pedigree female has encountered a male from another breed instead of the 'mate' intended. In crossbreeds, it is sometimes possible to see some behavioural and physical traits from both breeds in the kitten it produces.

Two cats next to each other crossbreed icon
Two cats next to each other mixedbreed icon

Otherwise known as moggies, these cats come from an entirely non-pedigree background. These cats are usually categorised as either 'domestic shorthairs' or 'domestic longhairs'.

If you’re thinking about getting a mixed breed cat, remember that you won’t know exactly what a mixed breed kitten will grow into, as you won’t know a lot about what breeds make up their DNA. For example, this could mean that they could have a more mischievous personality, or their coat markings may change. Luckily, unlike dogs, cats are not that significantly different in size or shape, so you won't be too surprised by how your kitten grows up!

Moggies are often generally healthier than pedigree cats, as they have a large gene pool to call on and fewer inherent genetic problems. They can also have more balanced and well-rounded feline personalities! Ultimately, mixed-breed kittens and cats are also generally less expensive, and easier to find.

Should I get a cat or a kitten

Between them, as long as they have been neutered. Some may say that females are more loving and males are more independent, but you may find yourself with a cuddly mummy's boy, or a self-reliant female. When choosing a cat and picking their gender, bear these handy tips in mind:
Generally, males are a little bigger than females. Un-neutered toms can are more likely to wander away from home, which can increase their risk of fighting with other cats they come across or being involved in a traffic accident. Boys that are unneutered are also more likely to spray urine to mark their territory. Un-neutered females can be very vocal and difficult to keep indoors when they come into season. They can become pregnant from as young as five months old, meaning that your kitten could soon be having kittens herself! Cats from rescue homes should usually already be neutered, but check with the centre advisor beforehand. If you need more information on neutering, visit our FAQs page. Your choice of sex may be determined by any existing cats you have. If you already have a sociable (neutered) male cat, a young (neutered) female may be the best choice for both him and you. The cost of sterilising a female is generally more than for neutering a male, and more still if she is already pregnant. Most re-homing charities will have already neutered their cats before they put them up for adoption. Whatever decision you make when choosing a cat that’s a perfect fit for your family, you have an exciting time ahead of you making memories with your new four-legged friend! Read our guide on making your home cat friendly for more information on how to make them feel as at home as possible.
Tortoiseshell cat walking