If you've been around cats long enough, you know that their personalities vary between two extremes: cute and cuddly and angry and irrational. Oftentimes, the type you end up with is up to the luck of the draw. It's hard to see past the unrivaled cuteness of a kitten. This can lead to the unsettling realization too far down the line that you have the wrong cat for your environment.
To help you navigate the murky waters of finding the perfect cat for your apartment, here's some basic info on the best cat breeds, and how to nurture your cat into the feline friend you need to coexist in your apartment.
“There are several cats who can thrive in apartments, including the American and British Shorthairs, Persians and Burmese cats," explains Isabel Ludick, Marketing Director for Excited Cats.
To put it simply, Isabel knows cats. And, her No. 1 choice when it comes to apartment cat breeds is the ever-popular Birman.
“If I had to choose the No. 1 best cat breed for apartments, in my opinion, I'd go with the Birman. These cats are super easy-going, laid back and absolute snuggle bugs. They aren't madly active and prefer taking lap naps rather than running around. They're not overly vocal, they love getting attention yet don't mind when their humans are busy or out for the day."
While it isn't always possible to find a Birman, they're extremely popular in the United States due to the attributes Isabel mentioned above. If you're hoping to find a Birman, you should look for a pink nose, patches of color on the legs, ears, face and tail, as well as light-feeling fur that's soft to the touch.
Unfortunately, selecting a specific breed does not guarantee you specific traits. Cat expert, Pamela Merritt from The Way of Cats, explains the reasoning behind this.
“We might be Siamese fans and think the energy, intensity and verbal abilities we love so much are Siamese. They are actually Alpha traits and are shared with other breeds, such as Abyssinians, Sphynxes and Rexes."
“We might appreciate the quiet beauty of Persians and not realize we don't have to get a purebred Himalayan or Ragdoll to get the traits we like."
“All of these traits can pop up as mixed breeds; even if there wasn't a purebred lurking out there to be the actual Dad or Mom. That is because the genetic potential is in every cat. That is where our purebreds came from in the first place."
As Pamela explains, cats have evolved alongside humans for so long now, that the gene pools and the traits that come with them are not as clearly defined or predictable as they likely once were.
Diving further into the storied history of human-cat-cooperation, the Meowtel team brought up the fact that “Cats and humans have lived together and cooperated for food and other resources for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptian art depicts cats eating fish underneath chairs. In Cyprus, archaeologists have unearthed a 9,500-year-old grave where a cat was deliberately buried next to a human."
When you look at the interactions between humans and cats through this long-term lens, it becomes more clear that nature and nurture play major roles in how cats interact with us today, especially in small spaces like apartments. Leveraging the thousands of years of history we share with our feline friends, it's possible to mold the personality of your cat by nurturing it with intention from the moment it steps foot in your apartment.
While you can't guarantee that you'll get the traits you want based on breed alone, it's important to remember that nurturing plays a major role in a cat's personality, in addition to nature.
Take it from Amy Shojai, CABC, a seasoned veteran in the cat behavior industry. She emphasizes proper kitten socialization as a key part of effectively nurturing a cat to enjoy its new environment.
“Many cats love staying home, and cat social skills depend on cat personality and kitten socialization. Confident cats not only feel less feline stress but they also get sick less, recover more quickly and handle trips to the vet better than shy cats. They enjoy life more and engage with other people and pets more effectively."
When it comes to kitten socialization, Amy teaches the Three T's: touching, talking and timing.
While touching and talking are obvious approaches to forming a fruitful bond with your feline friend, timing may require a bit of extra explanation. When Amy talks about timing, she is referring to the fact that “Kittens easily learn consequences when they make mistakes or do something right. If you tell them that is what I like, or that is not acceptable, they'll learn."
“Since cats do not respond well to punishment, think about catching kittens in the act of doing something right and rewarding the behavior with praise, toys or healthy treats. Give the reward immediately as timing is key to ensure effective communication."
If you've got a feline friend that you love, you can make it work in an apartment. Whether you're searching out a Birman or rolling the genetic dice and leaving it up to a combination of nature and nurture, you and your cat can both thrive in your apartment. You just have to put in the effort.