Are you in the market for the purrfect pal? Cats make the ideal companion. They’re less labor-intensive than a dog but offer more cuddly comfort than a goldfish.
Unfortunately, far too many felines end up abandoned because their owners didn’t understand the finer points of sharing their home. Before you think about adopting a cat, you should know the following eight things.
1. Kittens Aren’t Always Best
Kittens are adorable, and their pics are sure to make you an Instagram hit. However, pets aren’t accessories — they’re living creatures with emotions and physical needs. Like toddlers, baby cats can make a mess of your home, meaning they aren’t necessarily the wisest choice for the impatient.
Older cats come already litter-box trained, and they’re less messy overall. Additionally, they know how to groom themselves — a massive plus if you’ve ever had to clean a poopy kitten butt. They also tend to leave your curtains alone, while their mini-me versions find climbing them irresistible.
2. Evaluate the Other Pets in Your Household
Some cats mingle fine with puppies and bunnies, while others prefer to rule their domain solo. Before adding a cat to your household, evaluate the personalities of any existing pets. If you have an aggressive large-breed dog, you could endanger a feline.
If you do create a menagerie, make sure you treat all your critters for insect pests. Indoor cats can pick up bugs from dogs who go outside to do their business. Even if Fido crossed the Rainbow Bridge months ago, fleas could live for up to two years in your carpet without food.
3. Find the Perfect Litter Box
Some felines get rather particular about the cleanliness of their box. If your kitty starts to have accidents, consider how frequently you remove the poop. You should scoop the litter box daily and change clumping litter anywhere from twice a week to every two, depending on how many cats use it.
If that sounds like a ton of work, there are self-cleaning options available. If you have a bankroll to blow, you can find flushing boxes that attach to your plumbing and rinse litter clean, requiring little effort. Midline models, like the Tidy Cat Breeze system, use a combination of odor-absorbing pads and specialty litter to eliminate odors with minimal maintenance.
4. Understand Their Feeding Needs
One reason male cats may start urinating or even defecating outside the box is crystals. The wrong food can cause bladder stones to form, which causes your poor kitty considerable pain to pass. Females can get these formations, too, but their shorter urethra makes the condition less problematic.
Severe stones can require surgery. However, many cases resolve with treatment and a special diet that keeps them from forming. Don’t assume your kitty is merely misbehaving — call the vet.
5. Get Them Covered
Like humans, feline illnesses can cost a pretty penny to treat. Consider getting your pet covered by insurance so you don’t face the heartbreaking decision of putting them down if you can’t afford surgery or medicine.
Fortunately, this coverage frequently costs less than $20 a month. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
6. Cats Need Playtime, Too
Miss Kitty may not crave car rides or romps in the park, but she needs exercise. Provide ample climbing trees and scratching pads — it helps prevent damage to your sofa.
You don’t want to let your cat become obese. Invest in chaser toys, cat apps and fishing poles that delight you both while getting your feline frisky and well-exercised.
7. A Little Brushing Reduces Hairballs
Even domestic shorthairs can get hairballs. While most do little than leave stains on your carpet, severe cases can cause a blockage.
If your cat frequently dry-heaves but produces nothing, get them checked by a vet — especially if they often seem lethargic. These blockages can prove fatal in some cases and may require surgery.
8. Ferals Can Make the Best Friends — With Time
Do you have a skittish feline who occasionally frequents your backyard for a free meal? If you identify them as feral and have infinite patience, you might get the best pet ever without paying an adoption fee.
Feral cats are wild animals, but you can develop trust. Start by placing food and providing shelter with an escape hatch. Once they become accustomed to feeding time, try lingering nearby without approaching them. Eventually, they may walk over to you — and a cold snap could prompt them to investigate your heated living room. That’s when it’s time to call the vet and start integrating them into your family.
Are You Thinking of Adopting a Cat? Know These Eight Tips
If you are thinking of adopting a cat, make sure you know you can handle the responsibility. If you can master these eight tips, you and your feline friend can enjoy a long, happy life.