by Kim Boatman
For most dog owners, cats can seem like a species from another planet. Although there's little doubt that dogs can be the best friend a pet owner could ever have, cat owners sometimes feel like their job is to satisfy the needs of a superior master, one with twitching whiskers and a tail that occasionally swishes with annoyance.
If you're used to the unabashed enthusiasm of a dog, a cat can seem a little like a distant acquaintance simply sharing space in your residence.
But to know one cat -- or cat stereotype -- isn't to know them all, say veterinarians and other experts. You'll likely be surprised that you can find plenty of breeds that defy familiar conceptions about cats.
If you're more comfortable with cats that behave like dogs, consider these breeds:
The beautiful tabby-coated Maine coon is a big-boned cat with the stature and confidence a dog lover is likely to admire, says Dr. Bruce Silverman of Village West Veterinary in Chicago. While stories about 30-pound Maine coon cats are the stuff of legends, these felines typically weigh in the teens. This breed loves to play fetch and is known for its mellow interactions with people and dogs. The human-oriented Maine coon will want to keep a close eye on what you are doing.
While this breed has a beautiful long coat, it doesn't typically require as much grooming as a Persian cat would.
"Siamese cats are known for talking and interacting," explains Dr. Amber Andersen, a Los Angeles–based veterinarian.
Siamese cats are often playful and active. If you want a feline best pal, a Siamese is a good choice. But take into consideration that Siamese are often one-person cats. "They have a tendency to glom onto one owner," says Andersen.
"For dog owners who admire athletes, the Abyssinian might be a good fit, as they'll swing from the drapes and do their Tarzan imitation," says Amy Shojai, a Dallas-based certified animal behavior consultant and author of 23 pet-care books.
The curious, active Abyssinian thrives on interaction.
The sturdy Ragdoll makes a good lap cat with its docile, easygoing nature, explains Andersen.
Looking for a cat that will fit with your dog-centric household?
The quiet Chartreux is known to prefer the company of dogs to that of other cats, says Shojai. You can teach a Chartreux to fetch, and this breed remains playful even at an adult age.
Consider the Cat's Age
If you already own a dog, it's likely easier to adopt a kitten, explains Shojai. "Kittens tend to be easier to integrate into a dog home right away," she says. "Kittens are clueless. They don't know to be afraid. They'll see a dog and think, ‘Oh boy, somebody to play with me. He's just a big, smelly cat."
However, it's difficult to predict just what sort of personality a kitten will develop in adulthood. A cuddly kitten might become aloof as it ages. An active, playful kitten might settle down into an adult cat that is content to watch the action. "If you want a known personality, I recommend adopting an adult," says Shojai.
One nice thing to note about adding a cat to your household: "A healthy cat is going to live at least into their early teens, and some live into their 20s," says Shojai. So that gives you plenty of time to teach your feline companion how to walk on a leash, sit up or fetch. "The ball just needs to be a wee bit smaller than for a dog," says Shojai.
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Pets | Cats: Cat Breeds for Dog Lovers