There are many different types of cat from which to choose and they come in a variety of shapes and colours. The first choice is between pedigree and non-pedigree. Some people are attracted to pedigree cats because they admire certain characteristics which have become recognizable in a particular breed. For example, a Siamese may be preferred for its exotic appearance and flamboyant nature, or one might yearn for a Persian with its beautiful luxuriant coat. Unless you know of a particular kitten or cat at a rescue centre, the best way of obtaining a pedigree cat is directly from a breeder.

In this way you will be certain of the cat’s origins, who has been caring for it, its medical history and its parentage. Reputable breeders always ensure their cats are given a thorough health check by a vet, as well as the required inoculations for their ages before releasing then to new homes. Pedigree cats do not come cheap, so be prepared for a high price tag. Make sure you read up on the breed of your choice as some are more prone to certain diseases than others. Take into account the amount of attention it may require; long-haired breeds need a thorough daily grooming session.

Pedigree cats tend to look more striking and exotic than their mixed-bred cousins, so bear in mind that the possibility of theft is correspondingly greater. For this reason, you may decide to construct a run in your garden to restrict your cat from roaming.

Should you decide that a non- pedigree or ‘moggie’ is for you, you may have made a wise decision. They are robust, hardy, more resistant to disease than pedigree cats and are readily available from rescue centres. An attractive feature of non-pedigree cats is that although they are all beautiful, each one is unique and has its own particular characteristics.

Many people would always choose a non- pedigree cat right, as they are particularly robust and usually live to a ripe old age. They are also resistant to many diseases; but above all, they can be sure that each one is unique. Pedigree cats, on the other hand, are valued for the particular characteristics of their breed; for example, the Siamese for its sleek appearance and out going personality, or the Burmese opposite for its beautiful coat and striking eyes. If this is the case, always buy from a reputable breeder.

It is only comparatively recently in the history of cats that they have been domesticated, and selective breeding is still in its relative infancy. As a result, the range of cat breeds is quite small when compared with dogs, and domestic cats still – with a few exceptions, such as the Sphynx – very much resemble their wild ancestors. There is also much less diversity between the different breeds compared with dogs. One of the main reasons, for example, that different cat breeds are broadly of similar size, is the fact that the African Wildcat – ancestor of today’s domestic cat breeds – does not vary significantly in size throughout its range. On the other hand, the Grey Wolf – which is the original ancestor of the domestic dog – varies hugely in size across its range and, therefore, domestic dogs vary greatly in size, too.

Thanks to advances in DNA technology, studies of the domestic cat’s genetic history are now a reality, and so it may become possible in the future to confirm the origins of breeds, as well as their relationships to each other. What is already evident is that, until very recently, there was no other input into none of these hybrids was subsequently developed into a breed at that stage. In the USA, a number of breeds are currently being developed from wild cats, but recent restrictions on the keeping of such animals as pets looked as though they might put paid to this trend and that there would therefore be little scope for developing new breeds by further hybridization. However, the development of new breeds continues apace. It remains to be seen, though, whether any will attain the popularity of the Bengal.

The true longhaired cat is the Persian, also sometimes known as the Longhair. The breed is probably descended from matings between Angora cats, which originated from the Ankara region of Turkey, with others from Persia now Iran. It is said that the first examples of these longhaired cats reached Italy and France in the 16th century. It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the cats acquired pedigree status. Persians are now bred in a staggering array of colours and patterns.

The typical Persian cat has a luxuriously silky coat that consists of long guard hairs and shorter down hairs. Unfortunately, because of the nature of their coats, even the most fastidious self-grooming Longhair will still need daily grooming by its owner. If you are considering owning a Longhair, the time taken for such regular grooming must be taken into consideration, as well as the fact that being year-round moulters, your carpets, clothes and furniture are likely to be liberally coated with cat’s hairs, too. However, there is no denying the unbeatable opulence – and placid, friendly nature – of the Persian cat.