How to choose a cat for your family


How can you tell whether a cat's personality will fit your family's lifestyle? Dr Katherine Miller of the ASPCA explains how to choose the right cat.

How to choose a cat for your family There is a cat out there for every person and every family. Not all cats’ personalities are alike, so before you choose a cat, examine your family’s unique lifestyle to find the perfect feline fit.

  • Animal shelters are an excellent place to find a domestic short hair breeds as well as a host of adoption options from kittens to geriatrics to special-needs cats.
  • Younger cats need more attention and supervision. The first year of a cat’s life is a lot of work.
  • Older cats may be more suited to older people or people with a slower-paced lifestyle.
  • For households with young children, an older cat might be more suitable than a fragile kitten.
  • If you’re looking at a purebred cat, educate yourself first. Use the internet to investigate the unique traits and needs of specific breeds.
  • Every breed has a range of personalities, so a breed is not an exclusive indicator.

RON: I'm Ron Corning for and you want to help you choose the right cat for your family. Joining me is Dr. Katherine Miller who's an animal behaviorist with the SPCA. Dr. Miller thank you for being here.

DR. MILLER: Yeah my pleasure. 

RON: So this notion of choosing a cat really comes down in many ways to making sure that your lifestyle matches the cat's lifestyle which is something we often hear we dogs, but not always with cats. Why? 

DR. MILLER: Cats have a wide range of personalities and lifestyles. So before you go out to adopt a cat, it's really important to take stock of your own personality and lifestyle and what you're looking for in a companion. So that when you do go out to a shelter and look at cats, you have a good sense of how well that cat meshes with what you're looking for. 

RON: Another general notion might be that a cat can stay home alone or wants to be alone and independent more so than maybe a dog. Not always the case though right?

DR. MILLER: That's true. Younger cats, kittens need a lot of attention and a lot of supervision, but then there are even adult cats that are very social. Cats are very social creatures and they do need to have social companionship. Some more than others.

RON: So in considering that the idea of adopting an older cat--the benefit in that might be that you have a better sense of the cat's behavior. 

DR. MILLER: Absolutely an older cat may be a great match for a lot of different people. Particularly older folks, people who have a mellow lifestyle. There are older cats who fit in very well in that sort of situation. Don't rule out an older cat. It could fit very well into your lifestyle. 

RON: How do you match a cat to a family that has small children? 

DR. MILLER: A younger kitten might be too fragile for example for a very rambunctious two year old who has a lot of energy to burn. Whereas an older cat is a little more robust, a little more, um, very mellow and laid-back may be okay for that situation. 

RON: People might also have a notion that certain breeds behave in certain ways. That Siamese cats are a little more gentle, others are a little more rambunctious. How true is that to form? 

DR. MILLER: Within every breed there's going to be a range of personalities and activity levels.  All I'm recommending is that before you take a pure-bred cat home, go online, read about the breed: its behavior, its propensities, what its particular needs are because they do have some particular medical needs or some special care that might be required for that breed. 

RON: Alright Dr. Katherine Miller thank you. Practical good advice. I'm Ron Corning for 

meet theexpert
  • Dr. Katherine Miller

    Dr. Katherine Miller Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Dr. Katherine Miller is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer with the ASPCA’s ® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) National Programs Office. more about this expert »

mom-to-momNew Baby

family funfinder