There are lots of things to consider if you are thinking of getting a new cat.
1. Why do you want a cat. Is it for breeding/show purposes, or is it just for a pet?
2. Do you already have other pets, cats, dogs, or birds, that might be issues?
3. Do you have young children, who might hurt the cat, or be hurt by it?
4. Are finances a concern?
Let us address these in order.
First if you want a breeding or show quality cat, the only place you will find them is from a breeder, who owns and breeds the same. No cat is considered breeding quality unless it has attended cat shows to prove its’ worth genetically. The cat should also be tested by a veterinarian against any genetic disorders before it is bred. If you want a simple pet cat, then a breeders high costs, might put you off. Breeders sell purebred registered animals.
If you have other pets will they tolerate a new comer? Terrier dogs, or sight hounds, might decide your cat is prey. If you have an adult cat already, it is easier to get another cat of similar age. While they might accept a kitten easier, an adult needs adult food, a kitten needs kitten food. Since cats need access to their dry food all the time – feeding will be an issue. Also if there are going to be fights, a young kitten is not much fight against a stronger adult cat. So the rule here is, get a cat similar in age to the one you already have. If you might want to keep them in another room or get a cat who has been around them before, or one young enough you can train to leave them alone. In general pets who have lived with other pets are better to consider if you also ahve other pets at home.
Third, if you have young children a kitten is not a good idea. Kittens, although cute, are claw agressive. Children also tend to hold them too tight and can be hurt. A mature cat is usually smart enough to avoid young children or knows when to leave. A settled cat might be more friendly for a child to hold than a squirmy kitten.
If finances are a concern you are best off to consider getting an adult cat who is up to date on its vaccinations and deworming. As well if it is already spayed or neutered that will save you a lot of money too. Spayed and neuterd cats have fewer health problems and no risks of certain cancers.
Some other points to make are that there really is little difference in behavior in males or females once they are fixed (spayed or neutered) I have had both and find neither is more friendly, or more playful.
Kittens are more claw agressive. If you are concerned about your furniture consider an older cat, or a breed that is less claw agressive, such as a Persian. Also always provide cat furniture.
Most cats are “domestic”, this meaning they are of no specific breed, if a person tells you a cat is a purebred, they must provide you with registration papers.
The best place to look for a new cat, other than from a breeder (which you can find in CAT magazines) is at a shelter. Shelters have the best selection and honest advice. Because they are non-profit they care more about getting the cat a good home, than about “getting a sale”.
Certain breeds have some positive of negative traits, for example Manx may have more “bathroom” issues, Persians tend to be lazy, and don’t like a lot of attention. If you are looking for a purebred make sure you find one with the temperment that matches your lifestyle, don’t just go on looks alone.
Be very cautious against taking a “free” cat from the newspaper ads, unless it has had a vet check and vaccinations, you could be taking home a very expensive “free” pet. Pet stores are not the best places to look either, as some are only interested in profit.
Never accept a kitten under six weeks of age, seven, or even eight, weeks is better. Cats live well into their teens if looked after correctly so even a one year old cat, is not old.
If there is any concern about allergies, female cats with short hair, and of a lighter color, are apparently less likely to cause allergies, or you can look for one of the hairless, or rex breeds.
When you select your new kitty and get it home it should be kept in a smaller room for a while, especially if you have other pets at home.
Good luck finding the right cat for you.