Pedigreed Cat Breeds - Birman, Russian Blue, Maine Coon
When Dr. Sarah Miller’s family decided to get a cat, the choice was obvious: two Maine Coon kittens. As a veterinary cardiologist, Dr. Miller had seen many Maine Coons in her practice, and she liked the breed’s generally laid-back personality and large size.

The kittens are 7 months old now, and Dr. Miller says they have been a great choice for her family. At 14 pounds each, they are large enough to be good playmates for her three young daughters. “The girls can do anything with them,” she says, and the kittens will "just sit there and purr. One of them is obsessed with water, and he has jumped in the bathtub with them. They are just hilarious and great.”

The cats also get along with Lucy, Dr. Miller’s aging Golden Retriever. One kitten, Vincent, spoons with Lucy and enjoys kneading the dog’s belly.

Pluses of Pedigrees

Why choose a pedigree cat over a domestic shorthair or longhair? Like Dr. Miller, you may prefer a cat with a tendency toward certain traits such as personality, size or coat type. For instance, some pedigree cat breeds may be more likely to get along with dogs and children or enjoy walking on leash. Some, such as Oriental Shorthairs, tend to be talkers, while others typically let out nothing more than the occasional gentle mew. If you are a boater or have a swimming pool, you may choose a cat breed that is known to enjoy playing in water. (Of course, every cat is unique, so even with pedigree cats, there’s no guarantee that a cat will display specific behaviors associated with the breed.)

“I chose my Maine Coon, because I’m more of a dog person, and I liked that Maine Coons were described as being the most ‘dog like’ of the cat breeds,” says pet owner Carol Gravestock. “Fred was mellow, loved dogs and the water, and would fetch." 

She adds, "I know you can get this temperament in any cat, but choosing a breed that has been intentionally bred for this type of personality increased my chances of getting a cat most suited for my home and lifestyle."

The Spice of Life

Pedigree cats often offer a variety of coat colors and patterns. Though there are many beautiful bicolor, tabby, pointed, solid and tortoiseshell mixed-breed cats, you may be attracted to the unique appearance of a certain breed. And if you want a cat with a hairless, curly or wiry coat; folded ears; a bobtail; or one with a coat that’s spotted like a wildcat, you may be likely to find him from a breeder.

Their interesting history is another appealing point to pedigree cats. You may appreciate the romantic mythology of their heritage — think of the Birman, said to have acquired his striking appearance as a reward from a blue-eyed goddess — or choose, say, a Scottish Fold in a nod to your Scottish ancestry.

Cat lover Sally Bahner has had Russian Blues since 1987. She says the history of the breed is fascinating, as are the variations in appearance depending on the regions from which the cats come.

“It’s truly an international breed,” she says.

The Downside of Pedigrees

Are there drawbacks to pedigree cats? As with any animal, the answer is yes.

Some pedigree cats are prone to certain health problems. For instance, some breeds, such as Persians, may be bred to have extremely flat faces, which can compromise their ability to breathe. Persians can also be prone to polycystic kidney disease, a heritable condition. Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats and Ragdolls are among the breeds that can be likely to develop a type of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Hairless cats may develop skin problems.

It’s essential to buy from a breeder who tests for heritable conditions. It’s also important to take grooming and other care needs into account. Long-haired cats may need daily combing and brushing, depending on the texture of their coats. And don’t think you can escape daily care if you get a hairless cat. They have their own skin care requirements, including regular moisturizing and baths. Do your homework and know what you’re getting into as far as health and care of pedigree cats.

There are many wonderful cats in the world, both mixed and pedigree. Any of them can make fine feline companions, but when you have specific needs or desires, you may find yourself turning to a cat who may be more likely to have the characteristics you’re looking for.

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