Tag Archives: adopt

Q&A: What are the healthiest breeds of cat?

Q: What are the healthiest breeds of cats? I’ve heard some breeds inherently have more health problems than others. I do understand all breeds can develop problems also.

A: First, I want to be very upfront about the fact that I do not condone cat breeding. I don’t think most people who breed cats are bad people, but there are enough unethical and uneducated breeders, and so many cats waiting to be adopted, that it’s something I can’t personally recommend.

That said, there are a lot of natural breeds of cat (no human intervention required) that are wonderful and unique. If you want to look for one of the natural breeds in shelters in your area, I think that’s a perfectly good way to look for a cat that is a good fit for your home.

But you also have to be careful because there are breeders who breed natural breeds of cat in an unethical manner to meet demand for these cats. To quote Catster:

Sphynx and the Rex breeds arose due to a spontaneous natural mutation. However, the inbreeding that produced their unique coats and body types has resulted in serious issues. All of these breeds are very prone to heart disease, joint issues, bad teeth and severe digestive issues. Their unusual coats also leave them very susceptible to fungal infections

If you want a healthy cat, you shouldn’t buy a cat from a breeder. Adopt. But if you’re set on buying from a breeder, don’t do so until you have done a TON of research (and don’t rely on information the breeder gives you, do your own research).

What makes any cat healthy is a very large gene pool. The healthiest cats are those who are not “pure breeds.” This is especially true of cats who are bred to have features that themselves cause health issues, which is usually due to inbreeding in order to meet the demand for a specific breed.

According to Purebred Cat Rescue, Persians are “absolutely unfit to live outdoors due to physical makeup.” Their super-flat faces result in misaligned teeth, which can lead to excessive tartar buildup and decay. Many Persians’ noses are so smashed in that their nostrils are too small for them to breathe naturally and they need surgery to correct the problem. Similar problems arise in other breeds.

Now that all that is out of the way, let’s look at some healthy natural breeds:

  1. Egyptian Mau One of the few naturally spotted cat breeds, The Egyptian Mau has very few issues as far as breed is concerned, this cat makes a wonderful pet since it has fewer chances of being diagnosed with something so specific to its breed. Cats 101 video:
  2. Maine Coon While hip dysplasia can be a problem for larger Maine Coons, they are generally hardy cats. If you have a healthy Maine Coon kitten, it will usually remain healthy throughout its life. Cats 101 video:
  3. Russian Blue This striking breed is very healthy, and absolutely gorgeous. They’re also very smart. Cats 101 video:
  4. Turkish Van is one of the oldest known domestic breeds on the planet (an ancient breed). They usually love water, and are good swimmers. Cats 101 video:
  5. Siberian Another ancient breed, this cat has a much lower level of Fel d1, which is the protein that causes some people to have allergic reactions to cats. Cats 101 video:
  6. Norwegian Forest Cat I have a Wegie, and she’s the best. She’s 21 years old and still very healthy.The official cat of Norway, also known as the Skogkatt, the Norwegian Forest Cat  was a companion to the Vikings. It is a large, semi-longhaired cat. Smart and discerning, these cats are perfect for those who want a more laid back companion. A few bursts of energy followed by long naps make these kitties easy to exercise. Cats 101 video:

  7. Rescued The healthiest, best cats you can find are mixed breeds, millions of which are awaiting adoption right now. So don’t hesitate to go to your local shelter and check out the cats. Ask if there are cats that maybe aren’t doing their best at the shelter, so you can spend a quiet moment with them. If you’re looking for 2 cats, ask if there are any bonded pairs. Some shelters are forced to break up cats who have bonded, and that can lead to bad outcomes for these cats, so it’s important to ask if you are able to handle 2 cats. Bonded pairs generally transition to new homes more easily. If you aren’t sure, ask about fostering the cat(s) you like to see if it will work out. Many shelters are happy to work with you.

    And NEVER rule out senior cats.

Q&A: Low Maintenance Cats?

Q: I’m finally able to get my own cat! What should I look out for when I want a low maintenance cat? 

A: Congrats!

These are the most important ones: adopt, avoid long-haired breeds if you don’t want to brush them, avoid cats like Persians with shorter muzzles, get either a mixed cat or a natural breed (they have fewer health problems), and get one that is over 4 years.

Whenever the time comes for me to adopt another cat, I will go for a senior cat (over age 7). They are so chill and cuddly, and what you see is what you get. They know what they like, they aren’t aloof like younger cats who are generally more interested in play and adventure. And, if well-cared-for, cats are living into their 20s these days. I have a Norwegian Forest Cat (a natural breed, whom we adopted), whose name is Kagome, who just turned 20, and she’s very healthy. In fact, if we didn’t have vet records to prove it, our vet would not have believed us about her age because she’s in such good health.

When you go to the shelter: If you can, spend as much time with different cats when you’re there. If there is a free-roam room for the cats (where cats interact with each other and just hang out), and they allow people in there, just go hang out. You should ask if you can come back several times (they should be perfectly fine with this), and—even if you think you found the perfect cat in the first 5 minutes—make at least 3 visits where you spend at least 15 minutes (I would spend an hour) hanging out with the kitties each time.

Pay special attention to those who seem shy. A lot of cats don’t do well at shelters because they are so used to being in a home with people all their lives. Make sure to ask if they have cats there who seem to not be doing as well in the shelter environment. And go see if the kitty wants some pets or treats. If you think you get along, but want to see how they are at home, ask if you could foster the cat for a little while to see how things go. This way, you’re helping the cat no matter if you keep it or not. And you can provide a report about how the kitty does indeed do so much better in a home, and that could help kitty get adopted faster.

I’m so happy for you! May you and your new furry buddy have many happy years together! And send us a pic with a follow-up when you find your cat.

Q&A: How Do I Get My Kitten to Like Petting?

Q: My kitten is 4 months old. She bites me every time I try to pet her. How do I get her to like petting?

A: This is absolutely normal. Kittens do 3 things: eat, sleep, and play. They cannot control any of those things. They need food and sleep to survive kittenhood. Play includes the use of claws and mouths because 1) they need those to hunt and 2) other cats have fur and thick skin that can withstand it. That’s why you don’t use your hand as a toy when playing with a kitten. They must learn to hunt very quickly because, for many cats, soon they will be on their own, and if they don’t learn to hunt, they will die.

So, from an evolutionary perspective, she’s learning to hunt by play. Most kittens this age are learning their independence as well. Depending on the kitten, it is possible to get them to be cuddly, but this is usually when they are too tired to play. And even if you can’t cuddle with your kitty right now, if you bond with her through play, she will repay you later.

My little guy is now 19 months. He’s super empathetic, very smart, and he will cuddle with me when he knows I’m not feeling well (which is often, since I have MS and chronic pain that is unrelated to the MS). He and I have such a close bond that he pets me when he wants to soothe me. It’s adorable! But at 4 months, he only cuddled while sleeping.

Stiles in my lap, petting me before snuggles.

So let me tell you how we developed this close bond.

  1. Play is THE key. Play with her several times a day until she starts panting. This fills her need and it gets out all that baby energy. With a kitten this young, I recommend at least 3 play sessions a day. My baby needed 5.If you use a string (elastic string is the most fun, with feathers or other toys at the end) toy and use it to make them do a lot of running and climbing to get it, this wears them out fast. If she’ll chase a toy that you throw, that’s a good way to do it as well. My little guy started playing fetch when he was about 5 months.
  2. Praise, praise, treats. Make sure you praise her when she does things that she’s supposed to, when she gets the toy during play (you should allow her to get the toy frequently, this triggers the reward center in her brain, and that is also key because she will later relate that reward to being with you even without play.) Try to get her to eat a treat or two out of your hand. This is also creating a good association with you, and building that bond.
  3. Eat after play. With play done, and a full belly, she’ll be sleeeepy.
  4. Gently handle her several times a day. Pick her up to carry her to her food (even if it isn’t necessary), to a different room to play with her, etc. They’re wiggly, but if they know you will put them down quickly when they protest, they will start being more comfortable with it.
  5. If you have a plush blanket, put it on your lap, and encourage her to sleep on your lap. Don’t force her. But if she’s wiped out, she’s more likely to snuggle into your warm, inviting lap.
  6. You can pet her head, rub her cheekbones, rub under the chin, but don’t do it too much. You’ll interrupt her sleep, which will make your lap less inviting. Right now you’re just creating the bond.
  7. Never raise your voice to her.  Cats don’t understand the concept of punishment. If she’s somewhere she shouldn’t be, just move her (gently) to someplace where she can be. If she’s climbing shelves that are off limits, you need to provide a cat tree or something else for her to climb on. Always give alternatives. Praise her when she uses the alternatives.

If you keep this up, then once that kitten play stage starts to calm down in a few months, she’ll trust you, she’ll associate you with all things good in her world, and she will be sleeping in your lap and asking for petting in no time.

Why Cats vs. Dogs Is a Stupid Debate

Since long before the internet became a thing we all depend on, there has been this debate raging. Every time I think maybe we’ve all gotten over it, it comes up again: Which is better, cats or dogs?

I explained in my last post why this debate isn’t helpful:

Asking which one is better does not give us knowledge. It confuses the issue, and the facts get lost in the fog. And because there is no logical, objective answer to this question, it leaves people feeling vulnerable, and thus they are likely to get overly emotional (also because we love our pets a great deal). When has a lack of logic, plus overly emotional people, ever equaled positive discourse on the internet?

And now I would like to address people who hate either dogs or cats because they love the other one. If you are not one of these people, you are excused, and may go on with your day. I’m not talking about personal choice of pet. If you want to say you prefer to have a dog, or you prefer to have a cat, or hamster, or ferret, or skunk…whatever it is, that’s okay. I’m not talking about you.

I am so, so tired of people having these stupid debates about which one is better. If you’re one of these people, let me ask you something: Do you like elephants? Does that make you hate zebras? When you go to the zoo, do you go and look at just one animal? Does seeing meerkats frolic and play somehow diminish your enjoyment of cheetahs? If so, you might have a problem. A problem with logic, surely, but possibly a mental one as well.

I like dogs. I like cats. I understand cats and dogs for the most part. Cats can be harder to understand if you aren’t in the habit of thinking too deeply about pets. I get that. You actually have to try to think like a cat, to empathize with them. Most people can’t even put themselves in another human’s shoes, much less empathize with another species. I get that. But they are very social, highly intelligent creatures that can show just as much (and sometimes more) affection as our canine friends.

So, just understand that when I see you talking about how dogs are better than cats or cats are better than dogs, I see an imbecile talking about how hamsters are THE BEST! THE BEST! AND THAT’S WHY FERRETS SUCK!!!!

Do you have cats and dogs? How do they get along? Tell us your stories! Leave a comment or email us at stories at littlecatdiaries dot com!

Q&A: Cats vs. Dogs

Q: My husband and I finally bought our first home, so we can get a pet. I want a cat, but he still wants to be open to getting a dog. How can I convince him that cats are better pets?

A: Congrats on buying your home! I recommend doing the bulk of painting and any other work that would cause harmful fumes, dangerous environment, or other pet-unfriendly situations before you adopt.

Now onto your real question…

Which is better: elephants or giraffes? Whales or immortal jellyfish? Hamsters or ferrets? You might find these things in the same sort of habitat, but they are completely different animals.

Asking which one is better does not give us knowledge. It confuses the issue, and the facts get lost in the fog. And because there is no logical, objective answer to this question, it leaves people feeling vulnerable, and thus they are likely to get overly emotional (also because we love our pets a great deal). When has a lack of logic plus overly emotional people ever equaled positive discourse on the internet?

Adopting a pet is a big deal. It’s a great responsibility, and I’m very happy that you and your husband are ready to take this step. Instead of looking at this situation as cat vs. dog, you should look at it as trying to find the best companion for both of you. And if you plan on adopting a young cat or dog, this is a responsibility that will span more than a decade (likely even a few if you don’t allow that pet outside on its own, feed it the best diet for that animal, get regular vet care, provide enrichment, etc.).

There are differences between cats and dogs, some minor, some major. It also depends on the breed. For example, our last dog, Alaska, acted much more like a giant cat than a dog, and there are cats that are more dog-like (like Ragdolls). So you need to consider a lot of factors before selecting an animal to adopt.

The main difference comes down to this: Cats consider us to be equals. Dogs consider us to be superior.

Write down all the things that you want in a pet.  Have your husband do the same thing. Make sure these are qualities that are real and not just stereotypes. Don’t attach these things to either cats or dogs. Just list the qualities.

There is a great deal to consider, so take time to really think about this, and try not to let your biases or preconceptions color your true thoughts, wants, and needs.

Answer the following questions in your notes:

  • Will you be able to live with pet hair, a litter box, scooping poop from the yard or on a walk (cats can go on walks too), and the occasional wear-and-tear caused by pets?
  • You say cats are better. Why? What qualities do they bring to the home that you would like to have in a pet? Remember, avoid using the words “dog” or “cat.”
  • How much space do you have inside and outside your home? Do you have a fenced yard? Will you want an outdoor enclosure (a catio or better fencing) so your pet can spend time safely outdoors?
  • How much time do you have to spend with a pet? No matter what pet you choose, you need to make sure you have the time. It isn’t true that cats are okay spending most of their day alone. They need at least 15 minutes of play twice a day (more for a kitten or young cat), and they need snuggle time or relaxing time just to be with you (at least 3 hours, but ideally more).
  • What is your activity level? Are you sedentary or physically active?
  • Do you have the financial resources if your pet has a medical crisis and has high veterinary bills?
  • Do you have someone who can be a secondary caregiver if you are away from home? If not, how will you provide care for your pet when you travel? This is another huge difference between cats and dogs. You can have your dog stay with friends or family, but a cat is strongly bonded to its territory (your home), so you will have to find someone to come to your home to feed the cat, play with the cat, and just hang out for an hour or so every day.
  • Make a list of things you don’t want in a pet. Remember to write down your reasoning.

Then compare notes, have a discussion about whose responsibility it will be to do certain tasks (or if you will alternate) like walking the animal, cleaning up the poop, feeding, playing, etc. When you have an idea of what kind of pet you want, go to the animal shelter and meet dogs and cats. Ask lots of questions about anything that comes to mind.

If you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye about which pet you would prefer, then try fostering a cat or dog for a few months, then fostering the other kind for a few months. This can be a great way to figure out if an animal will really fit into your family.

Also, why rule out the possibility of adopting one of each? There are plenty of cats who like dogs and dogs who like cats waiting for a loving home. Closing your mind to possibilities before you’ve even met prospective pets seems like a bad idea to me.

Each cat and dog has its own personality, just like people. Some of those personalities will not mesh well with you and/or your husband. So also keep in mind that just because one specific animal isn’t a good fit for your family, that doesn’t mean that all members of its species will be the same.

Good Luck! Let us know how it goes.