Acquired: Other (stray, given cat by friend etc.)
Posted Aug 27, 2013
I've owned (or better; opened the door repeatedly for) three DSH (Domestic Short-Hair) mixed-breed cats in my life. The first, Cindy -- named after Cinderella but then it turned out he was a he -- who I found under a hedge when I was four. The second, Carmen, while I was a university student, then the third, Coco, in more recent times. Each of our three C-for-cats had a unique personality and set of quirks. They are a fairly clear example of the unpredictability of a mixed-breed cat.
Cindy was an efficient hunter, and would bring home everything from mice to large rabbits to share. He was an independent cat with little time for children, or people in general. He epitomized the concept of cats owning people, a classic doorway ditherer. When my youngest sister was three he stood undecided in the doorway for so long that my sister slammed the door, leaving Cindy on one side and three inches of detached tail on the other. Two days later when he grumpily returned home, he repaid her with a swipe of claws on her cheek.
For all that we loved Cindy. He would occasionally let us cuddle him and would manage to sit looking grumpy in as many family photos as possible.
Carmen was, simply put, an idiot. She and I parted ways when I moved overseas in my twenties and she relocated to my cousin's home. Within my first year she had managed to jump off our roof and land face-first, mashing her nose into the ground. She had chronic conjunctivitis after that because her tear ducts no longer drained her eyes. She took some special care, often needing to be rescued off some roof or out of a tree. I think she was scared of heights...but couldn't resist the call of the wild.
Our last cat was Coco and she took an opportunity when we were again preparing to move overseas to relocate herself. She was in the care of my family while we packed, and disappeared one day never to return. My children miss her very much, but I wonder how she would have coped going from a life outdoors to apartment confinement. She was our family cat. We had asked a friend for her because my daughter was terrified of cats and dogs as a toddler, and I wanted a cat to help her confidence with animals. Coco was the best possible choice. She was an affectionate cat who gave excellent headbutts, purred at the slightest touch and slept snuggled against our legs. It's no wonder they miss her.
Overall, much as I love the look and personalities of some of the purebred cats, I would still choose to adopt a mixed breed. Even at their quirkiest they have lovable traits -- and much of their personality is based on how they are treated and loved.
Aside from self-inflicted injuries, none of our cats have ever had health problems. We have never had weight concerns or had to worry about too much or not enough exercise, stimulation, or diet. None of our cats had so much as a single flea, or dental problems.
Because you are most likely picking up a mixed breed from a rescue shelter or a private home, there are more risks for health or environmental problems than buying from a professional breeder. But researching the best diet and care will always win out and, when raised in a loving home, your mixed breed cat will be the best choice.
If you have children, I strongly recommend you visit the cat with your children first and let them interact. It's easier to see if there will be conflict before you make a firm choice. You may discover that the cat you love, who is cuddly and happy with you, suddenly starts hissing when small people are around.