Once you have decided to share your life with a cat the next decision you will need to make is what type of cat you would like. Purebred or mixed breed. So what is the difference?
A purebred cat is a cat who has been bred to meet a specific type (set out by the various cat councils throughout the world, this is known as the 'breed standard') and who are only mated with cats of the same breed (there are exceptions which we won't go into that in this article). Purebred cats, therefore, meet a specific type. There are slight variations and colours, but they should mostly have the same form. Ears, eyes, body type etc.
A moggy is a mixed breed cat of unknown origin. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are generally bred by pet owners, are former strays or farm cats (or any other number of places) and don't conform to a particular breed standard.
So which is best, a purebred or a moggy?
This entirely an individual choice. There is no right or wrong.
Domestic (mixed breed/moggy)
Most of the pros and cons aren't deal breakers. If you don't really care about the look of the cat (be it big and fluffy or long and lean, black, grey, white, ticked, long or short haired) then a mixed breed would be the perfect companion for you. While you can get a good idea of the temperament of particular breeds of cat, I think with careful selection it is possible to find that with a mixed breed cat too if you take your time and do your research.
I have always said that purebred cats should be purchased from REGISTERED cat breeders and mixed breed cats from cat shelters. I don't recommend pet shops (unless they are working alongside shelters) or free to good home kittens. Before you decide on what cat to get, have a serious think about your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a cat. This can help you to narrow down your choices.
Questions to ask include:
- Do I want a lap cat who always wants to be with me, or would I prefer an independent cat?
- How much time will the cat be on his own? If you are out for long periods of time would you consider adopting two cats?
- Do I want a longhaired or shorthaired cat? Do I have time to regularly groom a cat with a long coat?
- Do I have a preference for colour or size?
- Do I want a male or female?
If you want a domestic (moggy) and know what you are looking for in a cat then speak to the staff at your local shelter who have spent time with the cats and can narrow down the best ones to meet your specific needs. Not everybody wants a super friendly or talkative cat, or maybe they do, some people prefer more independent cats who will come and hang out sometimes but don't need to be on or next to you 24 hours a day, other people love having a constant shadow.
I don't recommend adopting a free to good home kitten, for a number of reasons. It won't have been health checked, you know nothing about the health status of the mother or the kittens. Most people think a free kitten is a cheap kitten, but by the time you have paid for vaccinations, microchipping and desexing, you will be way out of pocket compared to paying a nominal fee for a cat at a shelter.
Whatever type of cat you decide to adopt, purebred or mixed breed, spend time with the kitten before you make a final decision. Does he seem to be friendly and outgoing? Is he in good health? Sometimes a cat or kitten in a shelter environment can be very scared, however, if you spend a little time with him he will come out of his shell. It can be a very traumatic experience for a cat being in a shelter, so don't discount the cat who sits in a corner with his back to you. Once again, speak to the shelter staff, because they often know the cats better than anybody.
I can't say which is better, a purebred or a mixed breed. I personally love both. I currently have a male Singapura and Oriental and a mixed breed girl. I love them all equally. I do love the Burmese cat, they are a beautiful breed with such a lovely temperament, I have had three and I can't go past them and will no doubt have another one in the future. But I will always have a mixed breed too. It's been a mixed bag for me. The cat who stole my heart more than any was a black and white domestic by the name of Eliot. She was my first cat and my soul mate.
I know a lot of people talk about hybrid vigour of mixed breed cats which is seen as a big plus. Having written in great detail about health issues and purebreds, I know some breeds can be predisposed to certain disorders, just how common they are I really can't say. With advances in medical screening and DNA testing, it is now easier to have parents and/or kittens screened. So if you do choose a purebred, do your homework, find out if the breed is prone to any particular genetic/medical conditions and if they are, is testing/screening available and ask the breeder if and what guarantees they offer.
And before I sign off, I would like mention adopting adults. These cats are often the last to get a home, you know what you are getting (size wise), and they really do appreciate getting a second chance in life. Kittens are adorable, but there are many great pros to adopting an adult cat.
Burmese photo courtesy Flickr.
For more information on the different breeds of cat, read here.