Cats as Pets

The addition of a cat to your home as a family pet is a wise choice. Cats are loving, devoted and charming pets. They are easy to care for and do not require a lot of room. They are "at their best" as a full-time indoor pet. Felines are an endless source of companionship, fun and entertainment for you and your family.

However, they are a life-long responsibility and commitment. Before adopting, ask yourself the following questions:

Am I ready to make a long-term commitment? Adopting a cat means being responsible for his or her health and happiness that should take the relationship through all of life's transitions, such as moving. Cats can live 15 to 20 years.

Can I afford the cat? The cost of a cat is more than just the adoption fee; remember to include the cost of food, litter, basic and emergency veterinary care and supplies.

Is everyone in my household in favor of adopting a cat? One adult in the home should be designated as the primary caretaker so that the cat's needs do not become lost in the shuffle of busy schedules. Make sure your landlord allows pets prior to bringing any new animal home.

Do I have at least an hour a day to devote to the care of my cat? A cat requires plenty of love and affection. Though cats are more independent than dogs, they thrive on your companionship. It is also recommended that you consider adopting two cats if there is no one home during the day. Two are company for each other--and two will bring more love into your life.

Am I ready to take on the daily responsibilities of caring for a cat? Although cats are easier to take care of than dogs, they still require daily care, such as feeding, exercise through play and cats require a litter box which needs to be scooped clean every day. Using a clumping litter will help control cat box odor and reduce the number of times you will need to change the litter every month.

Am I willing to commit to understanding basic cat behavior and training? Understanding cat behavior will help you train your cat not to scratch your furniture, or to use the litterbox. Cats are independent, but they can be trained with patience, understanding, and love.

Once you decide that the time is right for a cat, there are a number of things that you should do to get your home ready for the new arrival:

  • Bringing home kitty: Use a cat carrier to bring the cat home; never let the cat loose in the car or leave the cat alone in the car.
  • A room alone: Prepare a room where the cat can live for the first few weeks. A small, isolated room, like a bathroom, is perfect. Place a cat bed, litter pan, and water and food bowls in the room. Do not push attention on the cat or make too many demands. She needs time to adjust and get used to the sounds and smells of your home. Be patient and move to the next step only when you are sure everyone is really ready.
  • Prepare the children: Introduce each child to the cat one at a time in a supervised visit. Remind them it is important to be gentle with and speak softly to the kitten and there will be plenty of time to play with the kitten later. Kittens are not recommended for households with infants and toddlers.
  • Bringing home a second cat: Give the new arrival a room of his own and plan on a two week introductory period. Never force two animals to "interact." Accept that some hissing and posturing is normal and necessary; they will sort out who will be in charge. Do not permit a fight to break out (have a blanket ready to throw over the combatants if this happens). Never leave them together when you are away until they have clearly made their peace. In households with more than one cat, each animal should have their own litter box and food bowl. Give the resident cat extra attention to minimize any jealousy.
  • Feeding: It is recommended that you use a good quality, dry cat food throughout the life of your cat. You can supplement this with canned food, especially when the cat is young and needs more protein for growth. Feed adult cats at least once a day.