Pets are an important part of the American household. Your pet-owning experience will be most enjoyable if you carefully consider which pet best suits your family, home, and lifestyle. The primary reason cats are given up to animal shelters is unfulfilled expectations, so make an informed decision. Avoid acquiring animals on impulse or as gifts. Take time, involve your family, and give careful consideration to the following questions before selecting a cat.
What’s special about cats?
Cats make wonderful companions. Their entertaining antics and affectionate behaviors have endeared them to millions of owners for thousands of years. Easily housetrained and relatively low maintenance, cats make good indoor pets and most will readily adapt to a variety of households.
What are the special needs of cats?
Feeding, social interaction, exercise, play, and elimination are daily needs that must be met if you want a healthy, happy cat. Some cats have long or thick hair coats that require daily grooming to prevent matting and skin irritation. To reduce the risk of injury and disease, cats should be kept indoors and provided with an enriched environment that includes plenty of opportunities for positive interactions and play. A cat’s litter box must be kept very clean, and filled with the litter type they prefer, so that the cat continues to use it. If there are multiple cats within the home, multiple litter boxes should be available in several locations.
Does a cat fit into your lifestyle?
Cats can adapt to most types of housing if proper accommodations, food, grooming, and exercise opportunities are provided. To help decide if a cat is the right pet for you, answer the following questions:
- Do you have the time to devote to providing for a cat’s needs for care and attention?
- Do you rent or do you own your home? If you rent, does your lease allow you to keep one or more cats?
- Can you adapt your home to allow a cat to express normal behaviors such as exploration, predatory play, and scratching?
- How long is your work day? Do you frequently have obligations after work that would interfere with caring for your kitten or cat?
- Will your new cat get along with your existing pets?
- Do any family members have allergies to pet hair or dander or are likely to be intolerant of normal cat behavior?
Should you get a kitten or an adult cat?
Kittens require additional time for litter box training and socialization, as well as more frequent feeding and supervision. If you can’t make this commitment, consider the purchasing or adopting of an adult cat that is most likely litter trained and will usually adapt well to a new home. Breeders, rescues and shelters should be familiar with every cat they are placing and able to match you with a cat whose temperament and needs are a good fit for your family.
- Seven to nine weeks is considered the ideal time for a kitten to move into a new home.
- Spaying or neutering your new pet is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time to have your kitten spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters.
- Talk to your veterinarian about an appropriate vaccination schedule for your kitten or cat to make sure it is protected from diseases.
- When possible, meet the kitten’s parents — their physical and behavioral characteristics may provide a clue as to how your kitten will be as an adult.
- If you already have a pet (or more than one pet) and plan to get a cat, remember that your other pets may be less enthusiastic about your new addition than you are. Ask your veterinarian about the best ways to introduce your pet to its new animal family.
- String is NOT a good toy for cats. If a cat eats string (or ribbon), it can develop life-threatening intestinal problems. There are many safe toy alternatives available at pet stores.