My mother has kept Persians cats for many years, but now she's suffering quite badly from arthritis in her hands, and had difficulty in grooming her last pet. Any suggestions?

There are some breeds of cat which need very little grooming. The hairless Sphynx breed (top), which featured in some episodes of the television comedy Friends is one example, but not to everyone's taste. These cats are rare and correspondingly expensive. Their lack of hair has drawbacks too, because they need special sunblock rubbed into their skin to prevent them from becoming sunburnt and possibly developing skin cancer if they roam outdoors.

Probably the best choice for your mother could be a Devon rex kitten (below). These attractive, curly coated cats are available in a wide range of colours and patterns, and it should not be difficult to locate a breeder. They have a very distinctive appearance, thanks to their pixie-like faces. In terms of temperament, Devon rexes are playful and inquisitive, and make great companions.

Better still, their grooming needs are minimal, as they lack the usual dense undercoat of most cats. Simply stroking a Devon rex should be sufficient to keep its coat in good condition, although exhibitors of the breed often wipe the fur of their cats with a piece of silk cloth, to create a good gloss on it just before a show.

In this case, do not worry too much if you are offered a kitten with sparse fur. It will take about 18 months until its coat is fully grown. An alternative to the Devon Rex would be its Cornish relative, which has a more wavy coat when adult.