Should I Get a Pet Cat?

By kleo

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Cats are beautiful animals that can be wonderful to share a living space with, but is a pet cat right for you? If you are thinking about getting a cat, here are some things to consider.

1. Are Cats Allowed Where you Live?

Before you go any further, this is the first question to ask before you consider getting a new cat.

Whether you rent or own your home, here are the first considerations:

  • Is anyone who lives with you allergic to cats?
  • Is everyone in the household on board with getting a cat?

Even if you will be the main caretaker of the cat, you need to make sure everyone who lives with you is ok with you getting a cat. They will be sharing a living space with a living animal that will change the environment. The cat might shed, be noisy, smell, scratch up furniture or occasionally miss the litter box. Living with a cat does require patience and understanding from everyone involved, so if someone in your house does not agree, then it’s a no go.

If you rent the place you live, you will need to consider the rules your landlord has for owning cats.

  • Is keeping a cat in the building allowed?
  • Is there an additional pet fee for owning a cat?
  • Will you be moving to a new apartment in the near future, and is it likely that apartment will allow cats?

Also consider that the next time you move, it’s going to be a lot more restrictive because you will need to find a place that allows cats. If you’re not willing to make that compromise then it’s best not to get a cat.

If cats are allowed where you live and everyone you live with is on board, continue on to the other considerations.

2. Cats are Needy

Cats need attention from you every day, no exceptions. As social, curious, and playful animals, they are dependent on you to give them an enriching life. Each cat has a unique personality and will require varying amounts of time based on the individual. They will continue to need your attention even when you’re exhausted or sick and don’t feel like devoting any attention to them. Before you get a cat, think about how likely you are to exercise and play with your cat on a daily basis. Remember that there will definitely be days where you’re tired or you just don’t feel like it, but you’ll have to put in the energy and attention anyway.

Plan on devoting at least 30 minutes of time per day to your cat. That should include a few short 10-15 minute play sessions per day. Cats have a reputation of being a low-maintenance pet, which is true compared to dogs, but cats still require daily play time. Different cats will require different amounts of play time based on energy level and playfulness. Exercise is important for cats because they can easily become overweight, and play is important in its own right to provide enrichment and prevent boredom. Don’t forget you’ll also need to spend time cleaning the litter box, vacuuming fur off the ground, and feeding and watering your cat.

If you go on vacation, you will need to find someone to check in on your cat to make sure everything is alright, which is an additional cost.

3. Cats are Expensive

Seriously, these animals are not cheap. They will require a money commitment, including initial costs, ongoing costs for food and supplies, and vet care. It adds up, fast.

The cost of the cat itself will depend on where you get the cat from. By far the best cost effective deal is to get a cat from a shelter or rescue that has already done all the vetting, because vetting a new cat is very expensive. A cat from a good breeder will be very expensive, but for a good reason. Responsible and reputable breeders only breed cats that are in excellent health and have good temperaments, so cats from breeders are more likely to be healthy and have fewer behavioral problems. Here’s a summary of approximate costs of a cat from different sources:

  • Rescue/Shelter: $150, including vetting
  • Breeder: $500-$2,000, including vetting
  • Pet Store: Please don’t ever buy from a pet store
  • Craigslist: $50 rehoming fee + $200 in vetting

Below are some cost estimates for a new cat.

  • Initial Supplies Costs (litter box, toys, bowls, crate): $300
  • Recurring Costs (food, litter, toys): $45/month

4. Cats Need Vet Care

Speaking of the high costs of having a cat, don’t forget the costs of vet care. It’s very important to bring your cat to the vet for a yearly checkup and if you notice anything wrong with your cat.

For your cat’s first checkup and round of shots, you can expect to spend around $200.

For your cat’s yearly checkup and shots, you can expect to spend around $100.

However, also consider the costs for an emergency. If your cat breaks a bone, that could cost $500 and upwards. If your cat accidentally ingests something and needs emergency surgery, that could cost somewhere in the range of $2,000. If you can’t afford to pay for emergency situations for your pet, it’s best not to get a pet.

Plan on putting away about $30/month to save up for emergency funds.

5. Cats Need Training

Cats do not always behave the way you want them to behave. While cats do not need training like dogs do, cats can have unwanted behavior that you will need to approach strategically if you want your cat to stop.  With a proper approach, you can teach your cat how you want her to behave so that you can live peacefully and happily together. However, this can take a good amount of effort on your part. You will need to research the best way to train for the behavior you desire, spend time training with patience, and you may even need to reach out to a professional for assistance. Even with training, unwanted behavior is bound to occur from time to time because new situations arise all the time that your cat will not know how to react to. Here are some unwanted behaviors you might see in your cat that you will need to address:

  • Meowing/Noisiness (for attention, at other noises, to play, from fear, separation anxiety, etc.)
  • Destroying possessions (scratching furniture, ripping up clothes, throwing up on floors, etc.)
  • Litter box issues (cats can stop using the litter box due to stress, change in the environment, medical conditions, etc.)
  • Antagonistic or aggressive behavior (growling, hissing, scratching, clawing, biting, etc.)
  • Waking you up at night (for attention, medical reasons, hunger, boredom)

Every cat is different and a cat might do all or none of the above. The behavior might be easy to fix or challenging. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating. But you can learn how to work through any of these issues if you have the right expectations, a lot of patience, and a commitment to work on the behaviors with your cat.

6. Cat Personalities and Breeds

There are as many cat personalities as there are cats. It’s important to get a cat with a personality that matches your lifestyle. Some cats are energetic while others are lazy and some need more attention than others. Many people choose a cat based on looks instead of personality and then end up disappointed when the cat doesn’t behave how they wanted them to. A good personality match between dog and owner is what will predict a success.

It’s highly recommended to get your new cat from a rescue organization that has cats living in foster homes. Because the cat is already living in a house, the rescue will know a lot about the individual cat’s personality and will be able to match you to the type of cat you are looking for.

You can also select a cat from a reputable breeder based on breed. It’s important to remember though that there is a wide range of quality between cat breeders and it is of utmost importance that you choose a high quality breeder. There are cat breeders out there that will not breed to standard and will breed unhealthy cats. A reputable breeder will be breeding cats to the breed standard so that your cat’s personality will be more predictable, and will only be breeding healthy cats so that your cat will be healthy. Even within a breed, there can be a wide variety of different types of personalities, especially if the cats are coming from different backgrounds.

Whatever type of cat you end up selecting, the most important is that you’ve done your research to make sure the cat will be a good match for your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a cat.


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