How to Know If You're Ready to Adopt a Cat

Cat peering out of box

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So you've decided it's about time you had a cat in your life. Maybe you have a friend with a cat and you've learned first-hand how relaxing it can be to sit with a warm vibrating body in your lap. Or you find yourself alone in your brand new apartment and you can finally have the cat you've always wanted but couldn't because a parent or sibling was allergic.

Perhaps you and your spouse have agreed that the kids need a pet, and you think dogs might be too rough on the toddlers.

Or are you empty nesters who would enjoy having another person to talk about and care for?

A cat is a whole lot easier to deal with and cheaper to feed than a human child. Cats are lower maintenance, too.

Whatever the reason, there are a number of factors to consider before rushing into a decision that you may regret later. The fact is, too often pets acquired by impulse don't work out, and this is especially true with cats, who frequently have their own agendas.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you financially prepared for a cat?: Much like children, cats need the utmost care. This means you need to be prepared for the costs of responsibility for a cat. Costs can typically include spay/neutering, vaccinations, and veterinary care when necessary.
  • Are there children younger than five years old in the home?: Toddlers usually love kitties, but if you bring a very young kitten into your home you may find them loving it to death, literally. Alternately, the kitten could inflict some painful scratches. You'd be better off either getting an older cat that's been around children or waiting a couple of years.
  • Are your silk Queen Anne chair and new off-white carpet extremely important to you?: Cats need scratching exercise, and guess where they'll head first, lacking an approved scratching surface? A good scratching post and regular nail clipping are a must. Another must is a clean litter box and the necessary training for kitty to use it. It is critical that you are willing to make the commitment to provide your cat with the necessities and to put your cat ahead of furniture and other inanimate objects. Accidents happen. Are you willing to live with it? Or will you consider getting rid of the cat at the first sign of trouble?
  • Are planning to declaw your cat?: Please think again! Declawing is actually the surgical removal of the first knuckle of each toe. Whether done with a guillotine tool or by laser, it is extremely painful, and dangerous to the cat and patently inhumane. You will likely find declawed cats at the shelter, and they are usually there because they turned to biting or spraying urine after being declawed. If declawing is your only solution to having a cat, and you're not willing to take your chances with a previously declawed cat, a cat won't be the best fit.
  • Will an adult be responsible for feeding the cat, keeping the litter box clean, and grooming the cat regularly?: This is a serious consideration. Pets are fine for teaching children responsibility, but there should always be an adult around to supervise and make sure the necessary jobs are done every day.
  • Will you have time to be "family" to the cat?: Contrary to popular opinion, cats are very social animals who love attention from their humans. Your bond with your cat will last a lifetime. A lonely, neglected cat will soon find all kinds of mischief with which to amuse herself. Also contrary to popular opinion (among cats), you don't have to be its slave. 15 minutes a day of playtime and petting will make the difference between a happy cat and a nuisance.
  • Are you prepared to keep your cat indoors only?: There are too many hazards to the outdoor life for cats to list here, however, they far exceed any benefits you may perceive of outdoor life for cats.
  • Is your place big enough for a cat?: This is a frequently asked question by readers. The easy answer is that many cat breeds can live very comfortably in a studio apartment, given the right conditions and amount of attention and love given to your pet feline.

If your answers align with these then perhaps it's time you finally get the cute little cat you have your eye on!