Is Cat Ownership Right For You?
Let’s face it – nobody actually owns a cat. It’s more like a mutual sharing of space where each party understands who’s really the boss.
Cat ownership can be a wonderful experience. The joys of being a pet parent include cuddles, tongue baths, loud purrs and a general sense that everything is right with the world. Cats are fairly low maintenance when it comes to taking care of them, but it’s not all snuggles and cute cat pictures.
Cat ownership comes with responsibility, so you need to be sure you’re ready to own a cat before you make the commitment. Here are a few things you need to consider before you take the plunge and adopt your new furbaby.
How Much Does It Cost To Own A Cat?
There are things that every cat needs, and then there are additional costs you may or may not have. Let’s concentrate on basic cat care for now. Before you adopt a cat, you’ll need these items:
- Litter box, litter and scoop
- Food (grain-free varieties are best!)
- Dinnerware (food and water bowl)
- Collar and ID tag
- Grooming supplies
- Pet first aid kit (you can buy these or make your own)
Other cost considerations would be spaying/neutering your cat (most shelter cats are already spayed/neutered), adoption fees and a wellness exam by your local veterinarian, all of which are necessary in order to adopt a cat. You’ll probably want to buy your kitty some toys as well, but a cardboard box is just fine for starters.
These costs aren’t absolutely necessary, but I highly recommend you budget for them for the sake of your pet.
Pet insurance is the big one. You may do everything in your power to cat proof your home, but accidents can happen even in the best of circumstances. Your pet may need emergency care, which can be super expensive if you don’t have pet insurance.
I personally use Petplan Pet Insurance, so I can honestly recommend them 100%. They were my saving grace when Misha got lily poisoning and had to be hospitalized for two days. The cost was well over $1,000, but I only had to pay the $200 deductible (you can get deductibles as low as $50). Pet insurance is so worth it.
Micro-chipping is fairly cheap; our local vet does it for around $45, but you’ll have to update the chip every now and then. While this won’t install GPS in your cat should they escape and get lost, animal shelters will scan any lost pets that are brought in to see if they’re micro-chipped and return them to their owners.
For a better idea of the annual costs of owning a cat, check out Petfinder’s annual checklist.
Can You Make The Commitment To Cat Ownership?
Owning a cat is a lifelong commitment. There are too many stories of owners who have given up or abandoned their cat because they either didn’t know what they were getting into or they simply didn’t want a cat anymore.
A common factor in cat abandonment is aging… of the cat, that is. It’s easy to fall in love with a kitten’s cute furry face and tiny paws, but for some people they lose their charm once they become an adult (yes, people actually abandon their cats because of this!).
Before you even think of becoming a pet parent, realize that you’ll be exactly that – a parent.
Cats need love and attention just as much as human children do, and they feel the hurt of abandonment even if they can’t express it in human language. It’s easy for humans to ignore this because we never hear any complaints from cats, but cats experience emotional trauma and feelings of abandonment just the same.
You should only adopt a cat if you are prepared to:
- Make a lifelong commitment
- Spend time with your cat and show them the affection they need
- Provide healthcare through regular vet appointments and good nutrition
If you aren’t willing to do these things, you shouldn’t own a pet… period.
Is Your Home Cat-Friendly?
You may be able to provide adequate care and affection to your cat, but is your home cat-friendly?
There are many different factors that can make a home unsuitable for cats, including occupants who have pet allergies, other pets and financial instability. If one of the other residents is adverse to cats, that could end up being a bad situation for you and your cat.
It can also be a problem if you have young children because some cat breeds don’t do well with children. American Shorthair and Ragdoll breeds are most suitable for kids due to their mild temperament, but you’ll still have to teach your children how to properly interact with the cat, otherwise either one could end up hurt.
As long as you can provide a loving and stable environment for the duration of the cat’s life, you’re ready for cat ownership. Remember: cat ownership is a privilege that you shouldn’t take for granted!
Adopt, Don’t Shop!
Sadly, most commercial pet stores are filled with cats and dogs from mills while loving animals searching for a home are left in animal shelters until they’re put down. Consider adoption and save a cat’s life.
For more information on finding local animal shelters, including no-kill shelters (where no animals are put down if they aren’t adopted), visit the No-Kill Network.
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