If you’re thinking about offering a home to a cat or kitten that’s great news. However there are many factors for you to consider before rushing into a decision that you may regret later. The fact is, too often pets acquired by impulse quite often don’t work out so you have to be sure that the cat coming into your life is right for your family and your lifestyle. Adopting a cat for the first time should be a lifetime commitment, so it is important to do your homework first and that will give you the best chance of a long and happy life together.
Cat character traits
It’s very important to be aware of character traits that all cats share. Their qualities include inquisitiveness, cleanliness, affection, patience, dignity, and courage. Cats are very loving creatures, but in order for them to trust and love their owner, they need to be fed regularly, treated kindly and given lots of care, which builds a strong and trustworthy relationship. All cats come fully equipped with retractable claws which are used for hunting and climbing and sometimes help re-design your curtains and carpets. They also come with night-vision goggles in the form of those beautiful green or blue eyes that have more rods and cones than humans do. All cats are born with hunting and chasing instinct, however some will want to hunt more than others. Some cats will want to be out at night and some are happy spending more time indoors. They are predators and you have to be prepared that your cuddly kitty could come home with his dead prey to offer to you as a gift. Remember, although we refer to cat ‘owners’, nobody really owns a cat. They are very independent and can go and find a new owner if they are not happy with the current one!
These are essential questions to ask yourself before adopting a cat:
About the Cat
Most rescue cats will have had at least one home. Sometimes many more and it is important to find out as much as you can about the cat’s previous home.
• Do you have other pets? A dog for example? If so ensure any cat you are interested in adopting is going to be able to live with your other pet(s).
• If you are an inexperienced cat owner don’t choose a cat that has lots of issues (the rescue centres will work hard to ‘match’ you). No-one wants to see a cat returned because of incompatibility.
• Don’t discount an older cat. Kittens are rewarding but an older cat can be too! And kittens involved more hard work than older cats. Be open minded about your choice.
• Finally be patient. Some rescue cats take weeks before they will trust a new owner.
Are You Financially Prepared for a Cat?
If you have children, you want to care for them the best way you can, and a new cat will be much like having a new child in the family. This means you need to be prepared for the costs of responsibility for a cat.
1. Food of the best quality you can afford
2. Enough toys to keep your cat entertained and fit
3. Cat litter
4. Vet bills including neutering
5. Pet insurance
6. Care for your cat during holidays
Are there children younger than five years old in the home?
Tots 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.
Do you have valuable furniture or flooring?
Face it, cats need scratching exercise so a good scratching post and a good selection of toys are essential to stop your cat heading for your curtains, furniture or carpets. To ensure your kitty uses the litter box, keep it clean as cats do not like using a smelly litter box.
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?
Cats are very social animals and love attention from their humans. A lonely, neglected cat will soon find all kinds of mischief with which to amuse herself. 15 minutes a day of play time and petting will make the difference between a happy cat and a nuisance.
Adopting a cat is an immensely rewarding experience and you can really make a difference.
Adopting a cat is an immensely rewarding experience and you can really make a difference. Once you are confident you are ready to adopt a cat, your life will be enriched in many ways. There are countless benefits to pet ownership, and when you know you saved your furry companion from an unpleasant fate, it makes the bond you share that much more meaningful.
Where should I look to adopt my first cat?
Cats Protection www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat
Blue Cross www.bluecross.org.uk › Rehome a pet
Cats for adoption across the UK www.catchat.org/
It is also well worth considering one of your local rescue centres.