Ah cats; they're the stars of the internet and hold a special place in many hearts all over the world. They're adorable, fluffy and sometimes feisty, and their antics have us enraptured every single day. They really are a perfect pet.
While those who don't love cats say they're aloof and cold, those who do love them know that we are just their happy, grateful staff and cats our masters. They don't need to be walked, are usually very clean and particular when it comes to toileting and love to just fill our lives with sweet fluffy cuddles.
So for those considering a cat as a beloved family pet, there are a few things to consider:
Purebred or rescue?
Animal welfare is important and many of us want to do our bit by choosing a rescue cat. Temperament can be an issue, however, and the animal will be living with you for a long time. If you go for a rescue, make sure to spend a significant amount of time with it first and if it has temperament issues or has been mistreated, make sure you have patience to make a loving space for it in your life.
If you choose a purebred, make sure you locate an accredited breeder who breeds the animals in humane conditions and also spend time with the animals to assess temperament. Here are some tips from Purina that you should read through before choosing a kitten or cat.
If you're a large, rambunctious family then you'll need a cat or two with an outgoing, unruffable nature. Smaller, quieter families can have a more timid feline.
Think about getting two
Most cats love a bit of companionship, so if no-one is home during the week, consider getting two kittens at the same time and they'll be buddies for life. The more social breeds such as Siamese and Burmese will thank you for it.
Inside or outside; or both?
You need to think about where you live. If you live on a main road, it would be wise to have an indoor-only cat so it doesn't meet a grisly end that traumatises the family. You could look at installing a cat run or enclosure so they can safely spend time outside.
If you are happy to let the cat outside, ensure that it is inside around dusk so local wildlife is safe from these agile hunters.
Do you have time to groom a long-haired cat, or would you prefer a low-care coat?
Which breed should I choose?
Once you've made some decisions about what kind of cat would suit you and your family, you can start looking at shelters (support no-kill ones) and breeders. Adopting a rescue animal is absolutely encouraged, however here are some breeds whose personalities can be vouched for when it comes to families.
Dr Harry said many years ago on his show Talk to the Animals, "...the best pet for a family is a Burmese cat and the second best pet for a family is another Burmese cat."
It's true that this affectionate, gregarious and fun-loving breed is best in a pair. They are super intelligent and get bored if they spend long hours alone. If they have a built-in mate from the start, they will stay out of trouble and be the most adorable companions for you and the kids that you could ever imagine. In fact, they're almost human.
They're often dubbed 'the dog cat' because they demonstrate loyalty and love for their family much like a dog does.
Burmese come in a wide range of colours, but the original colour that usually gives the best and most typical personality traits of the breed is the brown. They will sit on your keyboard, jump on any available lap and look at you with eyes of love. They will take over your life, and you will love every second of it.
2. BRITISH SHORTHAIR
The stunning British Shorthair cat is most famous as a British Blue; a sturdy and stout animal with a placid, affectionate temperament. This breed has many colour variations, however, from black and white to red to brown.
They don't love to be picked up or carried around, nor are they as playful as other breeds, however the British Shorthair is a sweet-natured and loving family cat, and is one of the most ancient of the known cat breeds, thought to be brought to the UK by Romans in the first century AD.
They are adored for their easy-going, affable nature and strikingly chunky appearance and they are equally happy as an only cat, or one of many. A variation of the British Shorthair is the quirky Scottish Fold (with child in top image), which is an equally charming and suitable breed for a family.
The adorable and dainty-looking Ragdoll is actually a hardy and exceptionally playful cat. They are best known for going limp when they're picked up but they are also willing participants in a game of fetch and hide-and-go-seek.
Children inevitably adore these relaxed, funny and interactive cats which come in a range of colourpoint colours and have striking blue eyes. They are known for being one of the most laid back and tolerant breeds and will grow to be quite large at three to four years of age. They are long-haired, so require grooming.
4. EXOTIC SHORTHAIR
While the Persian cat belongs here right beside the Exotic Shorthair in terms of temperament, the Exotic Shorthair wins out because of its comparatively low-care coat. They're the short-haired version of the Persian, but don't require the long hours of grooming in a busy family environment, but still do need a brush down every now and again because of their dense fur.
Exotics love children and although they are not a very active breed, they are tolerant of touch and play and they love affection. They are happy to spend long hours inside and without company and make perfect family house cats.
For a breed that came about accidentally, when a male Chinchilla mated with a lilac female Burmese - the Burmilla has become entrenched in the ranks of most beloved cat breeds.
The Burmilla isn't quite as active as a Burmese, yet retains all of its most charming sociable character traits. It's also not quite as relaxed as a Chinchilla, so will often traipse off on adventures to other people's houses, bringing back stolen trinkets. For this reason, they are best kept inside where they make a most adoring pet for the family.
The Burmilla is known for being attuned to the feelings of its humans, responding vocally to conversation and inserting itself into social situations. As they are active and sociable, it's best for a Burmilla to have a feline mate to keep it company.