Which cat breed should a first-time owner pick?

Havana Brown 'Cocoa' reclining by Helmi Flick
Havana Brown ‘Cocoa’ reclining by Helmi Flick. My current pick as the best breed for a first-time purebred cat buyer. Image is copyright Helmi Flick.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

People ask “Which cat breed is best for first time owners?” You’ll see a lot of answers on the internet with long lists of many breeds all being suitable for first-time buyers which tells you that there is little difference between the breeds on this criterion according to these authors.

So what does a first-time adopter of a purebred cat look for? I’d have thought that the following list would be uppermost in their minds:

  1. Ease of caregiving
  2. Lowest cost of caregiving which is linked to 1
  3. Suitability for indoor life
  4. Suitability for being left alone – i.e. separation anxiety resistant?
  5. Great appearance

Any conclusion is going to be subjective to a certain extent. It’ll often be down to personal choice at the end of the day.

I think that of the above factors the most important today is cost which is largely dependent on the inherited health of the breed as the other costs of caregiving are very similar.

Ease of caregiving

What does ‘ease of caregiving mean?’ It must refer to a cat who’s likely to be the easiest to look after which means inherently the healthiest and a temperament which is less likely to result in conditions such as separation anxiety and innappropriate elimination (peeing outside the litter tray). A calm cat with a good temperament would be good for the first-timer.

The character has to be a major factor as the first-timer is more likely to make mistakes which may upset the cat.

Cats like the hairless Sphynx are not really suitable for first-time buyers as they need specialist care. And you can say the same about the high filial wild cat hybrids. What you want is a solid, mild-mannered, cat that looks good.

The Ragdoll comes to mind. The British Shorthair is also popular. The American Shorthair is often overlooked because they look a bit like moggies but they are a great cat for indoor living.

RELATED: Are Cat Breeds Less Healthy than Random-bred Cats?

In terms of temperament I’d choose the Ragdoll for ease of caregiving although you’ll have to groom her daily.

Cost of caregiving – linked to inherited health

This comes down to two areas (1) the need for specialist care and (2) the size of the breed as bigger cats eat more! The second point is relatively minor however.

The Ragdoll I have mentioned but they are big. That said not all Ragdolls are big. A nice female would be little bigger than a typical domestic cat.

The Persian doesn’t really fit this criterion as they can be a bit nervous and have litter box issues and their coat needs owner intervention to keep in good condition. Plus they have a lot of health issues due to extreme breeding (flat-face and breathing issues plus polycystic kidney disease).

Cost of caregiving is linked to inherited health. Good health means lower costs. Some breeds almost demand that the owner takes out an insurance policy. The Maine Coon comes to mind with sadly a list of inherited diseases. I can’t recomment the Maine Coon.

The Siamese is a popular mainstream cat breed but once again is often and sadly bred to extreme with a rat-like face and super-slender body conformation. My research years ago judged the ‘modern’ Siamese as the most unhealthy breed. So, no, I can’t recommend the Siamese as a good choice for a first-timer.

I have three pages listing the cat breeds and under each breed is a short summary of inherited illness or none. Click this link to see the first of the three pages. Note: the third page does not contain this information.

The Havana Brown, Japanese Bobtail, LaPerm, Nebelung (longhaired Chartreux) and Pixie-bob have no reported inherited disease at the time of writing the list (around 2012). I must also include the American Curl as one of the more healthy breeds. This breed will not suit everyone as the appearance is questionable, I’d say.

Sadly the Ragdoll is also predisposed to HCM as is the Bengal. I cannot recommend these breeds for this reason. HCM is a serious heart disease which is likely to lead to increase vet bills and/or the need to take out an insurance policy; not good for a first-timer.

The Scottish Fold, made more popular by Taylor Swift’s adoption, is a symbol of poor breeding practices and cannot be recommended. Osteochondrodysplasia is seen in ALL Scottish Fold cats.

Suitability for indoor life or being left alone

Domestic cats of any breed should not be left alone all day while being confined to the home. This in my view does not work for the cat; any cat of any type. Of all the breeds, the Ragdoll is said to be the most suited to a modern cat lifestyle by which I mean indoors all the time.

Great appearance

The cats with great appearances that come to mind are the Maine Coon, Ragdoll and contemporary Persian or Exotic SH but the latter two are bred to extreme (and their appearance is questionable) and will not suit many people and in any case they have problematic inherited health issues.

Havan Brown. A handsome cat breed. Image: MikeB under a Canva license.

Conclusions?

My gut feeling is that the most important factor/criterion in deciding which cat breed to adopt for the first-timer is: health! πŸ’”. It has to be. Poor cat health leads to worry for the human caregiver and added expense. The healthiest breed is probably the best breed for the first-timer. What is it!?

That can be difficult to assess as there are different ideas on which breed is the healthiest.

I am going to choose the HAVANA BROWN. And this is a really good-looking cat breed too. Or the LaPerm. These are both less well-known breeds. But I think this assessment is fair as the big mainstream breeds tend to carry the most inherited health issues.

Read more on this breeds by clicking on the links below:

Hope this article helps a bit. It is a very flexible topic which is why you’ll see a huge range of answers and recommendations.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

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