By Gerry White
Good… you’re still here, so we’ll muddle forward assuming that Fluffy is more than “The Cat”.
Why is this so important? First of all, Fluffy is subject to many of the same feelings we experience…love, indifference, anger, curiosity, and so on. And since Fluffy is now a member of the clan, it comes down to this: What do we want for her? Do we want her to endure, or do we want her to enjoy? Do we think food, water, and shelter are enough, or do we want her to have a happy existence? Obviously, the latter is true. She gives us boundless love, and we’re obligated to do more than make sure she’s being fed. Which means we have to learn what makes her –not us– happy. I’m reminded of the fellow who buys his wife a new set of socket wrenches for Christmas.
(Look…it was only that one time, okay?) We also have to learn what makes her (Fluffy, that is; not the wife) unhappy, too. And we should know about any peculiarities that lurk in her genetic makeup. Equally important is that we need to respect her personality …yes, she does have one. So let’s begin by looking at a few of the common breeds, and please understand: I am not referring to your cat, but to breeds and species in general.
American Shorthair: Perhaps the most common of all cats in this country, was once dubbed the Domestic Shorthair, but was renamed by the Cat Fancier’s Association in 1966. These loveable creatures came to us from Europe with the earliest settlers, as working-cats (mousers) on the ships, but soon became domesticated and revered as special pets. A brown tabby, for example, was offered for sale at the second-annual Cat Show in Madison Square Garden, for $2,500…in 1896! The American Shorthair is, perhaps, the most social, most family-friendly cat of all. However, since they have evolved in this country for so many years, they’re susceptible to ailments that stem from these surroundings, and from the diets we expose them to, such as: Kidney and heart problems, respiratory ailments, viruses, and so on. Also, while other breeds may “lock on” to a particular personality or disposition, the American Shorthair will demonstrate many different personalities; they mimic human behavior very closely, and it’s something we need to be aware of and to respect.
Oriental Longhair (Angora): These cats present a few things we need to be especially aware of. First of all, they’re obsessive about grooming, so hairballs can be a problem that may need daily help (brushing) from us. Angoras have an extremely delicate nature, and that extends to eating habits…they’re generally fussy, and this, too, can be a problem. Typically (not always), the Angora is physically smaller in weight than, say, the average Shorthair, and as such they cannot tolerate extended periods without food, so feeding is a caution. Also (typically), Angoras are considered to be somewhat more “fragile” than many breeds; in multi-cat homes, the Angora is touted as the one to be intimidated by other cats most often. On the plus side…they have incredibly sweet, warm dispositions, and they’re great around children.
Persians: Generally, they have a laid-back attitude, and are claimed to do well around children. However, a small conflict is that Persians are also known to be moody, stand-offish at times. Persians are a robust breed of feline, good eaters, easy to maintain, and they’re very affectionate…when in the mood. A known, inherent risk with Persians is a disease called Feline Polycystic Kidney Disease, known as Feline PKD. (http://www.felinepkd.com)
Siamese: Oh, these cats! So lovely they are, so sleek, such elegance and dignity, and what talkers! But there is a price tag, and it has nothing to do with $$$. Siamese are a healthy, hearty breed of cat that evolved with class. You’ll see them in a handful of color variations, but not many. I happen to have a black Siamese. These cats are unique in almost every way, starting with their “immediate” personality that we must respect (or risk being swatted). When they’re in the mood to be loved, you may as well just do it, and when they’ve had enough, you’d best stop…right now. Siamese owners will tell you they’re wonderful around children, but I wouldn’t support this; Siamese are typically a one-person cat and generally not fond of little-people which, of course, small children cannot understand. So unless you own stock in Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid Company, I wouldn’t recommend mixing little kids and Siamese cats under the same roof. On the plus side: Siamese are energetic, not prone to diseases, and are very loveable (to the primary caregiver). They’ll require places to hide and plenty room for running, jumping, and climbing. Because of their firm, fixed personalities, they like what they like and nothing else…and that extends to diet. Siamese are very much set in their ways; expect it to be so.
Maine Coon: It would be hard to find a more beautiful creature than the Maine Coon cat. It would also be hard to find one that’s more curious, more fun-loving, and more full of himself! These guys are always into something, led by their perpetual curiosity; they leave not even the smallest area unexplored! Because of the long, shaggy coat, hairballs can be a problem, as can their ever-present desire to be outside. They have an easygoing disposition, they’re very loving and affectionate, and their wild-northern history lends them to be a tough, hearty breed, with a few exceptions. Males, they say, tend to be “clowns”, while the female retains a bit more dignity. (Gee…this sounds familiar.) On the negative side: Maine coons are susceptible to a few inherited conditions: Hip Dysplasia, which causes weakness and soreness in the hind quarters. And cardiomyopathy, which can present anything from a mild heart murmur, to severe heart problems.
These are but a few examples of cats and their uniqueness, and for obvious reasons we cannot outline all the breeds. But the examples do point out that our kitties are individuals, with individual needs and considerations. Whatever breed or species Fluffy happens to be, it’s our obligation to learn as much about her as we possibly can.
Disclaimer: Kathy Fatheree is not at all a medical expert. Contents of this web site are a collection of Kathy’s assist feeding experiences as well as the experiences of other cat owners who have assist fed their cats. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Kathy Fatheree or anyone associated with this web site cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using the information on this site.