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Top Tips for Getting Your First Cat

Updated on October 18, 2014

Understanding the commitment

Some people see cats as the better option for working people than dogs because they don’t need walking. This can apply to some cats, but it won’t to others. Similarly, taking in a pet from an animal shelter is an admirable thing to do, but you need to be aware of what you could be getting involved with before you do.

There are several questions to ask before even considering the cat question any further:

  • Can you afford a cat?
  • Are there children under five in the house?
  • Do you have time to spend with the cat?
  • Can you cope with the potential damage a cat can do around the house?
  • Is someone prepared to do cat litter duty every day?

Grey Kitten

Source

Finances

Firstly, cats cost money – food, litter, treats, toys, vet fees, vaccinations, spraying or neutering. If you don’t have any free money in the household budget to cover these expenses then it might not be the right time to have a cat.

Many shelters and breeders can stipulate that you have to agree to the cat being an indoor pet so remember this will mean buying enough toys, cat furniture and accessories such as scratching posts to keep them occupied during the day. Items such as cat shelves, baskets, cat beds and other climbing furniture are ideal for cats to work through their natural behaviours but all cost money.

Similarly may be the requirement to have the cat sprayed or neutered. This can recommended for a variety of reasons including health issues, unwanted pregnancies and to stop them straying. While not an expensive operation generally, if cash is tight it may be an issue.

All animals can suffer from accidents or illness that lead to vet fees so you need to know that in an emergency you can put together some funds to pay for the vet costs. While some vets can help out in desperate times and cat insurance is worth considering, it is always worth remembering that these things always tend to happen at the worst moment, so would you be able to access the money?

Cat Playing

Fly catching on the top of a kitchen door!
Fly catching on the top of a kitchen door! | Source

Cat Playing

Time and responsibilities

If you have kids under five, remember this can be a tricky mix. Kittens particular look like cuddly toys to kids and this can lead to nasty accidents and a lifelong fear in the child. It may be worth waiting until your children are older or adopt an older cat that has been around children.

Having young children can also be a consideration as to whether you have enough time to spend with a cat. While generally less demanding that dogs (from what dog owners have said), cats still need attention, time with their human family such as sitting on a lap or with you. They like to play and many need to be groomed as well as the time needed for cleaning litter trays and feeding. If your day doesn’t have a cat gap in it, then again it may be this isn’t the right pet for you.

What do you like best about cats?

What is the one thing you like best about cats?

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Damage and litter

Many people complain about the damage a cat can do around the house and are surprised by it so be aware upfront. Cats claw things, run around with toys with no consideration to the leather sofa, often love climbing things including the curtains and sometimes vomit on the carpet. If these things are a problem for you, then maybe a cat isn’t the right pet.

Cat litter is one of the biggest problems people have with their cat. Litter tray avoidance is the third most common reason given for cats being abandoned at shelters and this is often caused not so much by the cat as the humans not understanding their requirements. Cats are extremely fussy about their litter and have a far better sense of smell than humans do.

Another issue can be them spreading their cat litter around the house, which happens when it is stuck in the fur of their paws and is cast off somewhere else. There are some great designs of cat litter tray to help alleviate this problem. While it may appear that covered in trays are the best idea, not all cats take to these. This is because some cats are wary of entering an enclosed space for fear of what may be hiding in there. open trays have proven to be the most popular with many cats and have now been developed to make use of a range of features to help minimalize the spread of litter.

Taking Over

Whiskey making himself comfortable with the bed covers
Whiskey making himself comfortable with the bed covers | Source

Conclusion

The final thought to consider when considering if a cat is the right pet for you is the size of your home. If you live in a single bedroom apartment, do you have enough room to add another member to your family? Whilst cats don’t need their own bedroom, they do need their own space, even if it is a corner in the living room where their basket is placed. They also need a spot for litter tray and somewhere for a scratching post and other toys. If you don’t have enough room for them, then maybe you should consider waiting until you have a larger home before introducing a new member to the household.

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    • AnnaCia profile image

      AnnaCia 2 years ago

      Love the hub. You have given us so much information and interesting tips regarding having a cat, its needs and care. Thank you.

    • Angela Tempest profile image
      Author

      Angela Tempest 2 years ago from Lanchester, Durham, United Kingdom

      Thanks everyone, I could never be without my cats but feel it is important for people to realize what they are getting involved with when giving one a home. They may be cute but if they are like my four, they are also little terrors when they want to be!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Definitely be certain you can afford them. Vet visits and food and grooming needs all add up.

      Deciding too if you really want to change the littler box and keep it well cleaned is another factor.

      Try not to get a pet on a whim....think it through carefully.

      Thanks for sharing

      Angels are on the way to you this morning. ps

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      So much to consider besides "cuteness" when it comes to caring for a pet. I'm glad that you addressed the responsibilities for taking in a cat and hope that it encourages others to really think before getting one.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've shared some great advice. Cats are wonderful pets, but all the factors that you've described need to be considered before a cat is brought into a home.

    • Angela Tempest profile image
      Author

      Angela Tempest 2 years ago from Lanchester, Durham, United Kingdom

      My two ginger toms are like that, they were from a massive litter that had been abandoned and they are now five years old but haven't slowed down one inch from when they were kittens! Whiskey, the one in the pictures above, is the most intelligent cat I have ever encountered. His brother Jamieson just follows along after him!

    • craftybegonia profile image

      craftybegonia 2 years ago from Southwestern, United States

      Kittens are a lot of fun. I remember when we got our cat, Lilly. She was skinny because she had been abandoned and she looked like a thousand bolts of electricity had fallen on her hair. But with love and time, she has become a gorgeous cat. It is true they are lots of work, but they can be such wonderful pets also!

    • Angela Tempest profile image
      Author

      Angela Tempest 2 years ago from Lanchester, Durham, United Kingdom

      Thanks Heidi, I adore my cats but I also know they can be hard work sometimes and little devils so if I can put that across to people, hopefully that's a good thing!

    • profile image

      HeidiSchlatter 2 years ago

      Very nice article Angela. We're on the same page it seems - I write books about rescued animals and animal care, so I can really appreciate what you're saying here. Love meeting others who are trying to look out for the best interests of animals!

      Heidi Schlatter