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Mixed-breed cat

If you are looking to add a feline friend to your household, but can’t settle on the right breed, a mixed-breed cat may be the answer. In fact, more than 90% of American pet cats are mixed-breed cats—better known as domestic house cats—and can be found lounging in window sills and chasing toy mice in homes across the country.
Mixed Breed Cat Kitten Breed

AT A GLANCE: The mixed-breed cat

  • Playful, entertaining, and affectionate
  • Loves interaction and curling up on your lap
  • Short, medium, or long hair coat
  • Every possible color and pattern
  • Typical lifespan of 14 to 20 years

Physical characteristics of the mixed-breed cat

Mixed-breed cats come in all colors and patterns, including:
  • Black
  • White
  • Gray
  • Orange
  • Tabby, or tiger-striped
  • Tuxedo
  • Calico
  • Pointed
  • Tortoiseshell

One advantage of adopting a mixed-breed cat is being able to choose a cat with any physical appearance you like. If you have always wanted an orange, calico, or grey tabby cat, the perfect mixed-breed can easily be found. Another bonus is that mixed-breed cats cost a fraction of purebred cats, and shelters are typically full of domestic cats waiting for homes. If you adopt from a shelter or humane society, the small adoption fee is used to help care for other pets.

Personality and temperament of the mixed-breed cat

Mixed-breed cats have a variety of personalities, ranging from quiet and aloof to affectionate and playful. Most mixed-breed cats enjoy attention in the form of petting, playing, and snuggling. Even cats who are timid and stand-offish usually become more confident and loving if patiently encouraged in a supportive environment. If you want a devoted companion who is happy to nap through the day, has occasional spurts of playfulness, and spends evenings in your lap, a mixed-breed cat is the perfect choice.

Common health concerns for the mixed-breed cat

The average lifespan of a mixed-breed cat who is housed indoors is 14 to 20 years, but the expected lifespan decreases significantly, to 2 to 5 years, for outdoor cats. Dangers, such as wild animals, vehicles, parasites, and infectious diseases, cause the early death of many outdoor cats, making indoor housing the safest option.

Determining a mixed-breed cat’s genetic makeup through genetic testing will not likely be helpful in identifying common health conditions, since most mixed-breed cats have a mixture of genes from several breeds, and are often many generations removed from their pure-bred ancestors. Most feline health problems are not breed-specific, so it is more helpful to be aware of conditions that affect cats in general, such as:

  • Dental disease
  • Respiratory infections
  • Feline leukemia
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Ocular conditions
  • Lower urinary tract disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

Caring for the mixed-breed cat

The grooming a mixed-breed cat requires depends on its hair-coat length. Short-haired cats require only weekly brushing to minimize shedding, whereas cats with a medium to long coat will need more frequent brushing to prevent matting. Most cats do a good job of keeping themselves clean, and rarely, if ever, need bathing. Cats should have their ears checked monthly for excessive wax accumulation, signs of infection, and ear mites. Nails will need trimming monthly if the cat does not regularly use a scratching post to naturally wear them down.

Cats are at high risk of dental disease if their teeth are not brushed daily and regularly cleaned by a veterinarian. Tartar accumulation on visible teeth surfaces extends down to the tooth root and causes painful periodontal disease, resorptive lesions, and tooth loss. Cats most readily accept tooth brushing that is started when they are a kitten, although most adult cats learn to view brushing as a fun, interactive activity, if approached with patience.

Although indoor housing is safest, cats can easily become bored and overweight if not provided frequent opportunities for play and mental stimulation. Feathers, laser pointers, and battery-operated mice that zoom around the floor can provide hours of fun, interactive play time to keep a mixed-breed cat fit and agile. Since cats are natural hunters, using food puzzles they have to solve to access their dinner can prevent boredom. Scratching posts, climbing towers, and window seats can also help to satisfy an indoor cat’s natural needs. Indoor cat enrichment is critical for a mixed-breed cat’s mental and physical health, and can prevent many feline disease conditions.

The mixed-breed cat is the perfect cat for you if:

  • You want a cat with a unique mixture of physical characteristics
  • You don’t want to pay top dollar for a purebred cat
  • You want to adopt a cat from a shelter or humane society
  • You want a feline friend who will curl up on your lap