What Are The "Qualities" Of Pure-Bred Cats?
Any discussion about the personality (I resisted spelling it purrsonality - well, almost) of a cat is difficult. Like every other breeder, I think my own breed, the Japanese Bobtail, is the sweetest. For you, the best thing is to read up and then to see the cats.
For reading, I can suggest two good sources. First, read the breed profiles run every month in Cats. They give you a common basis on which to compare the many varieties of pure-bred cats. If you cannot get access to back issues of Cats, or cannot wait for the next profile, read Gloria Stephen's The Legacy Of The Cat. It is, hopefully, in your library. The photos of the different breeds are beautiful, and help capture the essence of many of the breeds. But, more importantly to you, the book very fairly discusses the personalities of virtually every breed of cat you can imagine.
As for "seeing", go to a cat show. You can find out where they are by looking at the calendar in the back of Cats. When you are at the show, look at the cats and kittens, and then talk with the owners. But, before you try and handle a cat, always ask the owner. Never touch one without the owner's permission.
Tell the breeders and exhibitors how you live, and what you are seeking. Most will be very helpful on how their breed fits your lifestyle. For example, do you have children - or not? Do you have another cat - or dog? Are you looking for a lap cat - or a more lively breed? The answers can make a difference.
In turn, you should feel free to ask your own questions. For example, how big will the cat get when it is fully grown? What types of food does it (and should it) eat? How much (and what kind) of grooming or other care does it need? How much does it need the companionship of another cat, another animal, or a person? Is there any difference in the disposition of the males and the females? (There often is, but, contrary to what you might expect, sometimes the males make better, sweeter companions.) Also, if possible, ask to talk with some people the breeders have sold kittens to about the breed and that breeder's cats.
There are some real advantages in dealing directly with the breeders:
First, and foremost, you are getting the cat from the source. If you ever have a question, you can ask the person who is responsible for breeding, raising, feeding, and caring for that kitten. Second, you can see pictures of each parent, or even see the parents themselves. That means you can have an idea of what the kitten may look like when it is grown. Third, some breeders will allow you to visit the cattery, so you can see your kitten's prior home. Now, if you can not, don't worry. Some catteries are "closed", that is no outsiders come in, so that the kittens are protected from exposure to disease. Fourth, the breeders know their breed. And they know it well.
Take your time. You will have the cat for a long time, and we, as breeders, want that cat to go to the best home possible.