This delightful ailment can be treated by adopting one of the furry darlings at a local shelter, but a pedigreed kitten is also an option
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Every kitten is adorable, but some people look for breeds with a certain look, size, personality, activity level or other desirable trait. From Abyssinians to Turkish vans, there’s a pedigreed cat to suit anyone’s feline desires.
Not everyone starts out looking for a particular breed. Sometimes their choice of cat is a happy accident. That was the case with Ramona Marek of Portland, Oregon, who began looking for a new kitten after the death of her 15-year-old Maine coon-mix. Marek’s previous cats had been found — in a ditch, on the side of an expressway, in an apartment complex laundry room. But this time, she and her husband searched several local shelters and rescue organizations, as well as Petfinder, with no luck.
“The kittens we were interested in had either been adopted or were on hold,” Marek says. “We went to a cat show in hopes of finding a kitten for adoption, since shelters often have a space at the shows.”
She didn’t find a kitten, but she did learn about cat breeds that matched the traits she was looking for: longhaired, social, affectionate. They included Maine coons, Norwegian forest cats and Siberians. With no shelter kitten available yet, Marek located a Siberian breeder who had a litter of 6-week-old silver tabby kittens, to be available when they were 12 weeks old. They put down a deposit but continued looking for a kitten to adopt. None turned up, and a month later, they went home with their little prince, Tsarevich Ivan, who still rules 13 years later.
Some people seek out cat breeds with reputations for being hypoallergenic, such as Siberians, Cornish rexes and sphynx. No cat is truly free of allergens, which are found not just on skin but also in saliva and urine. Individual cats may produce less of the proteins that trigger allergies than others, so spend lots of time with several different cats to make sure you’re comfortable around them before acquiring one.
Cats such as Persians are often in demand for their beautiful appearance and gentle nature. If there is such a thing as a couch potato cat, the Persian is it. The beautiful longhaired cats have a drawback, though: They shed. A lot. They also require daily grooming. Cat lovers who like the Persian personality but not the time required to comb them may choose an exotic, a shorthaired variety. Another consideration: Some Persians have a flat face, which can cause them to have breathing difficulties. Avoid cats with extreme characteristics.
Want an active, mischievous cat who might enjoy an adventurous lifestyle? Consider an Abyssinian, but know what you’re getting into. The cats are highly intelligent and can run you ragged as you try to stay one step ahead of them.
Any cat, pedigreed or not, can experience health problems, but some pedigreed breeds may be prone to specific diseases or conditions, ranging from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to periodontal disease.
“Be educated about potential health issues,” says veterinary cardiologist Sarah Miller, DVM, who lives with a pair of Maine coons. “Make sure the breeder is screening for the health problems that are inherent in the breed and that the breeder is breeding responsibly in order to keep these problems out of their lines.”
Buy from a breeder who puts the cat’s health and welfare foremost. That includes being willing to take the cat back at any point if you’re unable to keep him. Buying from a breeder has other advantages. Think full-time “tech support” from an expert. A reputable breeder will always be there to answer questions about behavior or development.
Before acquiring a pedigreed kitten, learn as much as possible about the breed by talking to breeders and other owners about activity level, health concerns and grooming requirements.
“Look at the kittens and both parents, if possible, and ask many questions,” Marek says. “For me, the experience was positive, educational and rewarding on many levels.”