Cats make wonderful, cuddly companions and are, for the most part, self-sufficient. The relative ease of cat ownership is one of the reasons they are such popular pets. Nevertheless, bringing a pet cat into your home is a ten to twenty-year commitment! So before taking the plunge into pet parenthood, there are a few things to consider.
Ask yourself the following questions when trying to decide if you’re really ready for a cat:
HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU SPEND AWAY FROM HOME?
While a cat is usually pretty good at taking care of himself, leaving your cat at home alone for extended periods of time is not a good idea. The less companionship you’re able to provide for your feline friend, the less of a companion he or she will be. Cats that are left alone may become aloof, difficult to handle, or unstable. For this reason, many working families will adopt two cats together, so they can provide companionship while the humans are away.
DO YOU TRAVEL OFTEN?
Cats are widely known to hate changes in their routines – one of the reasons they do not usually make good travel companions. Keeping that in mind, adult cats can usually be left alone for a few days with an automatic food dispenser and water fountain, but if you plan to be gone for an extended time, you’ll need a cat sitter to visit daily. Cats that are left alone for several days will become lonely and, as the litter box becomes dirtier than usual, they may begin to eliminate outside of the box.
DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN?
Most cats get along just fine with children, especially if they’ve been around them since they were kittens. However, if you have children or are planning to have children soon, you’ll need to take extra considerations looking for a cat that can fit into your family. Additionally, you’ll need to teach your kids how to behave with cats.
DO YOU HAVE OTHER PETS?
Cats that have been exposed to dogs early in life are more likely to accept them as housemates than those that have never been around a dog. Smaller pets, like guinea pigs, birds, and fish must be kept safe if you bring a cat into the home, since your kitty will likely consider these to be prey! Fish tanks can be an endless source of entertainment for a cat, but please make sure your fish are safe from curious kitty paws!
CAN YOU AFFORD A CAT?
As we mentioned earlier, a cat can be a twenty-year commitment – with you footing the bill. In addition to all the basic things your cat will need, like food, litter, toys, treats, a carrier, and scratching posts, you’ll need to pay for veterinary care – which can add up to be quite a lot of money over a decade or two. Those who have cats in their lives will agree they are worth the expense, but make sure you can budget for it before you bring a cat into your home.
ARE YOU READY FOR THE MESS?
Unless you’re going to adopt a hairless breed, be prepared for cat hair on your clothes and on your furniture! Regular grooming and brushing can certainly help minimize the amount of cat hair around your home, though. Be ready for occasional hairballs and the destruction your cat’s claws will cause (scratching posts will help with that!). And you’ll certainly need to be prepared for the mess of a litter box. Scooping regularly and replacing litter every month will help control odors. Try a litter mat or keep a broom or vacuum near the litter box to keep scattered litter to a minimum.
After considering all of the above, are you ready to adopt a cat? Let us know by posting a comment below.
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