Fortunately, cats are relatively easy animals to care for. Not that they don’t require plenty of time and energy (all pets do), but they tend to be lower maintenance than dogs, horses, and many caged animals. No wonder they’re the most popular pet in the US!
To decide if you’re ready for a pet cat, ask yourself some basic questions:
- “Why do I want a pet?”
- depending on the cat’s age “Am I ready to commit 5-10-15- or 20 years to a pet?”
- “Do I have a lifestyle conducive to cat guardianship?”
- “What is my contingency plan if I can’t keep the cat? Will a friend or relative care for her if I can’t?”
- “Can I afford food, veterinary bills, and possible emergency expenses?”
If you are confident that a pet cat is the right choice for you and your family, make sure to educate yourself about responsible cat care, and please consider adopting an adult!
Diet – Grooming – Indoor vs. Outdoor – Litterbox training – Exercise – Potential problems
Providing your cat with a high quality pet food ensures that your pet’s nutritional requirements are being met. High quality cat food is low in ash and magnesium, which can (in high levels) contribute to urinary problems. Feeding dry food (kibble) can help keep a cat’s teeth clean and free of tartar. Canned food is fine in smaller quantities, and should be fed in a separate bowl. Kittens under 6 months of age should be fed a diet formulated just for kittens, as their nutritional needs are different from an adult cat’s. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the amount to be fed, which will likely vary between 1/3 and 2/3 cup each day. Clean, fresh water should be offered at all times, and should be changed at least one a day. Cats should NOT be offered cow’s milk, as it can cause diarrhea.
All cats benefit from regular grooming, as it involves close handling and improves their coat and skin condition. Regular brushing is especially important for long-haired cats, who develop painful and unsanitary mats easily in the absense of regular grooming. Nail trims are also important, as a cat’s nails grow curved, and they can actually grow into the nail bed if left uncut. Nail trims, in conjuction with an offered scratching post, diminish destructive household scratching. To learn more about the importance of nail trims and why we DON’T recommend declawing surgeries, click here.
Indoor vs. Outdoor:
The great outdoors may sound like fun for a cat — but there are many dangers lurking outside for our feline friends. These include traffic, predators like loose dogs and wildlife, other cats that carry diseases, parasites, poor weather, poison, and being “adopted” by neighbors. The MSPCA strongly advises that all cats be kept indoors only or allowed outside only under supervision.
The best thing about cats is they don’t need to be potty-trained. Relieving themselves in soft, loose material and burying their waste is an innate behavior, so even young kittens know what to do without being shown. All you have to do is provide an acceptable place for the cat to do his business. Click here to learn more.
Fortunately, it’s easy to provide plenty of indoor activity to exercise your cat and squelch her boredom. Providing a scratching post, especially one with several tiers, as well as a variety of toys, is a great way to ensure that she’ll be exercised physically as well as mentally. And try to carve out some time each day to play with her – save a special toy, like a “fishing pole” style wand, or a laser pointer, for your play time together. Many cats sleep as many as 19 hours a day, so it won’t take much to tire her out.
Cats can develop some unwanted behavior problems, especially if something has changed in the household; a new baby or a schedule change is enough to disrupt the usual routine. Click here to read about some common behavior problems and how to manage them.