Getting a cat
Cats are the most popular pets in Switzerland. If you are also thinking about getting a cat, you should, first of all, inform yourself about a cat's needs and behavior. Adopting a cat should always be well considered. After all, one takes on the responsibility for a cat's entire life – up to 20 years.
Requirements to keep a cat happy
Although cats are considered very independent, they cannot live entirely on their own. You must fulfill some requirements to make sure you and your cat feel comfortable together. These include:
- permission from the landlord (also for a cat door, cat stairs, and balcony security measures)
- enough time to groom and play
- enough space for a cat tree, litter trays, and hiding places
- holiday and emergency care
- enough money for emergencies
- secured balcony for indoor cats
Our checklist highlights some crucial questions that you should ask and answer honestly before getting a cat.
The right breed matters
There are about 70 different cat breeds worldwide. Although the breeds do not differ as much in appearance and character as dog breeds do, there are also considerable differences between the individual breeds of cats. These differences can also affect the way of keeping a cat. When choosing two cats, the characteristics of both breeds should be taken into account, as not all harmonize well with each other.
European domestic cats
Most domestic cats do not belong to any particular breed and are often described as "European domestic cats". Therefore, they come in all sorts of colors and fur lengths. Most European domestic cats have a strong urge to move and hunt. Therefore, they should not be kept indoors. Especially cats that were born and raised on a farm or in the wild need to roam freely.
Oriental cat breeds such as Siamese, Burmese, and Balinese are considered very people-oriented and "talkative" – they meow a lot and loudly. These are slender and athletic cats that are very playful and curious. Therefore, they should be kept busy – either outdoors or at least with access to a secure outdoor area. Oriental cats are also considered very social and should never be kept alone.
Hybrid wild cat
When wild cats are mated with domestic cats, "hybrid wild cats" are born: Bengal (domestic cat x leopard cat) and Savannah (domestic cat x serval). Those kinds of cats are usually very active. They need a lot of space to climb, jump, and run. Keeping them inside and without any activity is not recommended. Keep in mind: the shorter the period of cross-breeding with a wild cat, the more the hybrid cat will be like the wild cat in its behavior. Hybrid wild cats are shy and aggressive, sometimes nocturnal, and often mark with claws and urine.
In addition to very sporty breeds such as the oriental cats and the hybrid wild cats, there are also cats with a more leisurely character. Those cats are better suited to being kept indoors. However, they are also happy – depending on their characteristics and previous experience – to be outdoors in nature. These breeds include the British Shorthair, the British Longhair, the Ragdoll, and the Sacred Birman.
Do not choose a cat solely based on its appearance! If you are interested in a certain cat breed, inform yourself about the characteristics and get to know them before buying one.
Breeding for visual appearances has always been accompanied by health problems. Therefore, certain breeds are to be judged as the result of torturous breeding.
Cats with short snouts
The noses of some breeds are bred to be much shorter than the original ones. These cats often suffer from a narrowed respiratory system and an excessively large soft palate, which results in breathing problems. At the same time, the nasolacrimal ducts are often blocked, which causes streaks of tears on the face and promotes inflammation. Short-nosed cats also tend to have rolled eyelids. Another typical problem is the defective positioning of the teeth, which leads to problems when eating and promotes dental calculus as well as inflammation of the gums.
Breeds affected: Persian, Exotic Shorthair, British Shorthair, British Longhair, Selkirk Rex
Cats with lop ears
The ears play an essential role in the body language of cats. However, cats with lop ears are limited in their communication with other cats. Lop ears are caused by a malformation of the cartilage in the ears. The genetic disease (osteochondrodysplasia) also damages cartilage and bones in the rest of the body. The consequences are severe pain in the joints, for example.
Affected breeds: Scottish Fold, Highland Fold, Poodle Cat
Cats without tails
Due to a deformation of the spine, certain cat breeds suffer from a shortening of the tail. Unfortunately, other parts of the spine are almost always pathologically altered, which can lead to pain, incontinence, and paralysis. Cats also need their tail to balance and to communicate with other cats.
Affected breeds: Manx, American and Japanese Bobtail, and others
Cats with short legs
A disturbance of growth shortens the hollow bones of so-called "Dachshund cats". As a result, the front legs are often shorter than the hind legs. These cats cannot move around normally due to the painful strain. Consequently, cats with shortened legs are more likely to suffer from arthritis, arthrosis, and slipped disks.
Affected breeds: Munchkin and new breeds resulting from crosses with it
Curly-haired cat breeds
Curly-haired cats do not have a topcoat, only an undercoat. While their fur is curly, it is also brittle. Therefore, the fur only insulates to a limited extent. The whiskers are also curled and brittle, making this essential sense of touch useless for the cat.
Affected breeds: various Rex breeds (Devon, Cornish, and others)
Cats without fur
Cats without fur often suffer from impaired hair growth. As the hair falls out, kittens quickly lose their pubescence and are more or less naked in adulthood. To counteract the lack of insulation due to the missing fur, these cats have an increased body temperature. That leads to higher energy consumption. The whiskers of these cats are wavy, twisted, brittle, or sometimes entirely gone. Affected cats are thus missing an essential sensory organ. In addition, cats without fur often have massive skin folds on their head or legs. They are also prone to fungal skin infections and they dislike grooming themselves probably because their rough toungue feels painful on their bare skin.
Affected breeds: various Sphynx breeds, Peterbald, and others
Cats with pure white fur are often hard of hearing, especially the ones with blue eyes. But also pied cats and those with green or copper-colored eyes can be affected. The reason for this is a degeneration of the inner ear, which is linked to the whitening of the fur and the iris of the eye. Cats with blue eyes also often lack the tapetum ludicum, which they need for good vision in the dark. Furthermore, white fur increases the risk of skin cancer.
Affected breeds: Persian, Turkish Angora, Turkish Van, Exotic Shorthair, and others
If you are interested in a breed affected by torturous breeding, take a close look at the breeder. Refrain from buying if the cat's parents show torturous breeding traits.
Where should you get the cat?
Have you decided on getting a cat and made up your mind about the breed and its characteristics? Then, most likely, the question arises as to where you should get the cat. There are several options to choose from:
- animal shelter
You can find information about the different sources as well as advantages and disadvantages in our handout "Where should the cat come from?".