Cats as Pets
Tips for First Time Cat Owners
Are you wondering what's involved in having cats as pets? Maybe the kids are pestering you for a cat, or someone has asked you to care for their pet cat. Or maybe it's just been a while since you've had a cat in the house.
This page will cover some of the most common questions that new cat owners have. You may have your new friend for the next 15-20 years, so it's good to really know what it's like to have cats as pets.
What kind of expenses am I in for?
For a healthy cat or kitten, it's pretty simple. There will be a trip to the vet to spay or neuter and some immunizations as well. If you're getting a kitten there will be boosters. Then it's just a yearly exam. Some cats will come with their own health issues, and if so you'll have to add that in.
Pet health insurance is gaining in popularity. It might be a good idea to get some pet insurance information, and get a cost estimate from your local vet to help make a choice.
Cat food and cat litter will be a regular addition to the monthly budget. It's tempting to get the cheapest food, but in the long run you'll save money (in the form of vet bills) by getting high-quality cat food with the best ingredients.
In most cases you'll want to use flea and tick prevention as well, even with keeping your cats indoors. If just one flea finds its way in, it will find the cat and make quick work of taking over.
There will be a trip to the pet store to get all the supplies you'll need. It's easy to forget something, so use our handy checklist when you go.
Should I get a male or a female? I'm worried that a male will spray in the house.
Spraying is a purely behavioral issue, and has nothing at all to do with litter box habits. So, we'll have to look at it behaviorally. Both males and females can spray, though it's primarily a male habit.
Urine Spraying is a marking of territory. It's a habit that is mostly seen with non-neutered males. In many cases, simply neutering your boy will take care of it. If you have him neutered young, the problem shouldn't even develop.
The cause behind this behavior is usually some emotional stress that he is under. This is usually a result of having too many cats in the house at once, or of cats being thrust into the same space together without a slow and careful introduction time.
So, as long as you don't have lots of cats, and your male is neutered, urine spraying shouldn't be a problem for you.
Some people feel that males are more affectionate than females. This is quite a generalization, though. There is such a wide variety of cat personalities, just as human personalities.
Of all my cats, my females have been incredibly affectionate and loving. That said, I suppose I'd have to call the boys uber-affectionate!
I'm allergic to cats. What breed should I get?
Well there are no non-allergenic cats. And since allergies can be mild or severe, you'll have to use your own discretion. For folks with mild allergies, this list of hypoallergenic cat breeds might help. Keep in mind that "hypo" simply means "less" so you may still have a reaction.
It's is so important to make a plan for your cat if you can't keep her. Many cats, even purebred ones, end up in shelters or rescue because their owners can't tolerate them due to allergies.
What kind of responsibilities are involved in having cats as pets?
There are the basics such as keeping the food and water dishes full. And tending to the cat litter box, as well. Plus regular veterinary exams to make sure he's healthy.
And there may need to be some grooming as well, depending on your cats coat type. Longhaired cats should be brushed regularly. They usually enjoy it. You might want to clip their nails on occasion. It's a good alternative to cat declawing, which is being seen in an increasingly negative way nowadays.
Caring for cats is a great way to introduce kids to having some responsibility. Just make sure to oversee the job. Kids can be forgetful, and it's ultimately up to the parent make sure the cat is cared for.
For those who live in small houses or apartments, having cats as pets can be the perfect way to make it a home. They don't need excessive attention, so you can leave for work each day without worry.
If you occasionally need to leave for a vacation or work, your cat will be fine. It might be good for a neighbor to look in on him if it will be more than a couple of days.
It sounds like too much, but I really want a pet.
There are great alternatives! If you are not ready to commit to a cat, we'll assume a dog is out of the running for now. How about something a bit smaller? There is a wide variety of small pets. Turtles, birds, reptiles, and guinea pigs are just a few that come to mind. If this sounds like a better choice for you, here is a great website devoted to everything about all of those little guys: Cool Small Pets.
What is it like to have cats as pets?
Cats are affectionate, playful, and loyal. They do require some work and responsibility. The old notion that they are aloof and independent, so they can be pretty much left on their own is no longer held true.
Having cats as pets means giving them your time, attention and devotion. They need you for companionship, play, and, well everything!
Yet the love, affection, companionship and entertainment you'll get in return will be well worth it.