Choices, choices - adopting a cat comes with a lot of decisions. So what about purebred cats versus stray cats? One packs serious charisma and gets great PR, the other will make your heart melt with their sad story. And then there is the third, more secret option. Which one is right for you?
Purebreds come with many amazing qualities - they’re often gorgeous, have predictable and amazing features that they have specifically been bred for, and you sort of know to certain extent what you’re signing on for - both physically and personality-wise. It is the closest you’ll get to designing your perfect pet.
Additionally, they usually get a good start in life - they ideally get raised in a loving environment, taught the basic skills that every kitten needs to face the world, get all their medical check ups, and even come with a warranty for the new owner if something should go wrong.
Of course, this is provided you do your research and take the time to select a responsible breeder, who actually puts the wellbeing of their kittens before the money they can make of them. Amateur breeders, commercial breeders and pet shops who buy from kitten mills will not give you these particular benefits, unfortunately, so make sure you go about this right.
Then, there are certainly downsides to consider.
First off - you’ll pay good money for a thorough-bred kitten. Part of this is to cover the medical expenses, but part is also due to the attention, care and maintenance that the breeder puts into their kittens. Some breeds are more exclusive and high maintenance, making them more expensive still.
Additionally, inbreeding and breeding for specific traits due to popular demand and working with an often limited gene pool makes breeds prone to breed-specific medical issues. Persians, for instance, typically have allergies and breathing problems due to popularity of big eyes and tiny, short muzzles. And those can become expensive to treat as well.
Lastly, to get a quality kitten, you’ll have to be patient. Good breeders do not overbreed their queens and will schedule and announce litters well in advance, allowing you to reserve one 6 months and longer in advance.
Breeders usually offer kittens in particular, but it does not hurt to ask them about any adults they may still have, if you think that this is a better fit for your lifestyle.
Strays and Rescues
They are definitely cheaper at first, easier to come by and then there is the benefactor bonus - the satisfaction of giving a grateful kitty the home they deserve. Diversity is their middle name. They come in all kinds of different shapes, colours and sizes, and have just as much variety in their personalities. The chances of you finding just the right cat for you amongst them are definitely high.
Additionally, they tend to be the hardiest breed, as they have the benefit of a very large gene pool. This allows for even more diversity on a genetic level, often resulting in a better immune system, more even-tempered personalities and no risk of ‘designer flaws’ causing odd medical problems such as the breathing issues in Persians.
On the other hand, it is possible that life hasn’t always been so kind to them and as flexible, hardy and resilient as they are, this does take its toll. Problem behaviours caused by previous owners, lack of proper socialisation and staying in an environment with a lot of other cats, increasing contamination risk can definitely cause issues with regard to both the physical and emotional health of your future kitty.
However, with a bit of research into the background of your potential future kitty, you can gauge the risks, anticipate any potential problems and discover your diamond in the rough. Many are perfectly well-behaved, loving and resilient cats who have already been trained and raised for you. And potential problems that surface are often easier to fix than raising your very own kitten. Take your time at the rescue, getting to know the candidates and do a thorough background check.
The perfect compromise
There are rescues out there for specific cat breeds - especially for adult cats. If you absolutely love the look and temperament of a specific breed, but want to help out a rescue kitty, do take this option into consideration.
These animals tend to be rather popular for rescues though so they may still cost you more than your typical rescue. And you will still have to ask about any breed-specific medical issues. Luckily, since they are mostly adults, a lot of the guesswork and statistics will already be taking out of the equation and you can just request their medical history.
So, for your own sake and the sake of your future cat, be honest with yourself about what you want and expect from your new companion in life. Don’t apologise for your preferences, but do make sure to do the research needed in order to keep your expectations realistic before making your final decision.