Over the years, I’ve had my share of both mixed-breed cats and their purebred counterparts.
Our 2 longest-lived cats were as mixed as you could get. But Star and Topaz, our Siamese cats, made it well into their teens.
Each breed has its pros and cons, as we can see from looking at some of the better-known ones.
Persian & Himalayan
With their long, fluffy coats and jewel-like eyes, Persians convey a sense of luxury. Despite their haughty look, they are loving, companionable and low-key.
Those gorgeous coats mat easily, however. These cats require daily grooming plus a bath now and then. Their eyes can get a little runny, so you’ll need to wipe away the runoff. And because these cats are not very active, you’ll have to clip their claws regularly.
Persians, especially the flat-faced ones, are susceptible to breathing and eating problems. “The shorter the nose, the more problems they have,” according to Dr. Letrisa Miller, DVM.
Writer Lori Soard says Himalayans are “just another color variation of Persians,” so the same considerations apply.
I don’t think it’s possible to be indifferent to Siamese cats. People either adore or abhor them. They are totally over-the-top, all-or-nothing felines.
Siamese crave human interaction and want to be involved in whatever you’re doing. Star used to plunk her elegant self right smack in the middle of whatever board game we were playing, oblivious to the pieces she sent flying every which way.
As Michigan Siamese Rescue says, they have “a very distinctive voice, and they all ‘talk,’ although some do so much more than others.” Even our Iris, the gentlest Siamese soul ever, could bellow like Ethel Merman when she felt the situation warranted it.
So, if you don’t want a talky cat, keep moving.
Abyssinian & Somali
Abys are people-oriented. Like Siamese, they don’t like being left to their own devices — they’ll just complain about it in softer voices.
Abyssinians are the athletes of the cat world, and “Why walk when you can leap?” seems to be their motto. If you don’t care to share your home with a feline flying Wallenda, then look for a more placid breed.
Their teeth aren’t grand. Abys are prone to gingivitis and tooth decay.
Then there’s renal amyloidosis, a kidney disease that shows up in some Abys. It also shows up in many other cat breeds, “but, unfortunately, some veterinarians incorrectly label it as a purely Abyssinian disease,” as Cats of Australia points out. They are not all tragedies waiting to happen, but many people act as though they are.
Somalis, meanwhile, are the long-haired cousins of Abyssinians. You need to comb them regularly or their fur will mat.
Burmese & Bombay
Burmese are chatty, inquisitive cats. They’re also highly intelligent and take to leash and harness training easily if you start when they’re young, according to Donna Pawl, who has worked with the breed for years.
They’re usually good with children and most dogs, though Pawl cautions against bringing them into a household with an aggressive or dominant cat or dog.
These cats aren’t loners. “Burmese and their close relatives, the Bombays, are very affectionate cats who usually do their best with a cat friend if they will be left alone during the day,” says Pawl.
Burmese are generally long-lived. They are, however, prone to asthma, sinus problems and dental issues.
The Manx, or tailless cat, is active, playful and intelligent. They tend to be 1-person cats but are sociable on general principle and get along with other pets.
That unique look and the bunny-hop walk come with a price, however. Manx syndrome (sacrocaudal dysgenesis) “causes varying degrees of taillessness, some of which can be fatal. In severely affected cats, there are serious spinal defects including a gap in the last few vertebrae, fused vertebrae or spina bifida in newborns,” according to Veterinary Pet Insurance.
This is another well-loved breed, rivaling Persians in popularity. It is also one of the oldest natural breeds in North America.
Maine coons are friendly, intelligent cats and are often called “gentle giants.” Their coats mat easily, so regular grooming is a must.
They are big, hearty-looking cats, but they’re prone to hip dysplasia, as are other large breeds. Other potential health concerns include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and polycystic kidney disease. Even gentle giants have their Achilles’ heel.