Choosing a Cat Breed

Pedigree cats come in a bewildering array of shapes, sizes, colours, patterns and fur length, but do not be swayed by looks alone; beneath each furry (or, in some cases, 'furrily' challenged!) exterior is a quite individual personality, some more demanding than others. This gallery will give you a fair idea of what to expect and you can see examples of recognised breeds at any all-breed show.

Characteristics and Personalities

Longhaired or Persian cats are generally laid back and relatively undemanding, apart from the regular grooming required to keep their coats free from knots. The British Shorthairs have a similar attitude ('the next best thing to a fireside moggie' as one breeder describes them). In general, neither of these breeds is particularly energetic or athletic.

At the other end of the scale, there are Burmese, Orientals and Siamese. Given half the chance, these breeds would be working out at the gym every day, preparing themselves for the next Olympics Games - and they expect their owners to share their activities with them.

The six breeds classified within the Semi-Longhair section - Birman, Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cat, Ragdoll, Somali and Turkish Van - are more outgoing in personality than the Persian Longhairs, but not usually quite so demonstrative (or noisy) as the Burmese, Siamese and Orientals. Although their fine silky coats do not mate easily, these breeds still require regular grooming.

The Foreign section contains a multitude of differing breeds; old favourites, such as the Abyssinian with its 'wild cat' ticked coat, the elegant Russian Blue, the Korat, another blue-only variety, the pixie-like and mischievous Devon Rex and the similarly curly-coated Cornish Rex, as well as newer varieties, such as the Burmillas and Tonkinese. More recent imports, which are currently unrecognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, include the Sphynx, Singapura, Bengal, Japanese Bobtail and Ocicat.

Choosing your Breed

Before you make a decision on a particular breed, go and visit them 'in the fur' in a domestic situation. Your cat may well live to be 18 years or more and you need to be sure that you and your cat are going to be compatible. A home visit will tell you far more about the breed's personality and behaviour than any amount of words and pretty pictures!