Have you thought about getting a cat? It’s hard to blame you. They’re cute and fuzzy, and when they mew, it seems they’re just begging you to take them home and make them yours. However, there are a few things you should understand before you take the plunge and become a cat owner. Here are five.
1. A Cat Is a Long-Term Commitment
That little kitten you’re eyeing could live as long as 20 years, and it won’t always fit in your hand. Like people, cats grow and change. Like people, cats become attached to their friends and their surroundings. They’re uneasy about moving, and they don’t like changing owners. If you can’t see yourself feeding that cat and changing its litter box 15 or 20 years in the future, it may be best to pass.
2. Cats Can Be Costly
The initial cost of a cat is only a fraction of what you’ll spend over its lifetime. There’s food, litter, toys, bowls, scratching posts, cat carriers and medical care. Some have estimated the ongoing cost of a cat at $800-$1,000 per year. If your cat is injured or develops health issues, the expense can be even greater. Emergency treatment can run into the thousands.
In addition, cats, especially kittens, can be destructive. If you don’t give them something to scratch, they may take it out on your pillows or upholstery.
3. Cats Should Be Spayed or Neutered
Nobody knows how many feral cats there are, but estimates run from 50 million to 150 million just in America. “Fixing” your cat not only fights feline overpopulation; it’s good for a companion animal. Spaying a female cat helps prevent uterine infections and uterine and breast cancer. Neutering males drops the risk of prostate and testicular cancer. Spayed or neutered cats behave better. They’re less prone to yowling, aggressive behavior and marking territory.
4. Cats Are Best Kept Indoors
Indoor cats are healthier and live longer. They don’t get killed or maimed in fights or get hit by vehicles. Outdoor cats are notorious for killing songbirds and bringing home “presents” such as small rodents. With a comfortable environment, cats are just fine staying inside. However, they do appreciate a sunny perch where they can look out the window.
5. Cats Need Human Contact
Cats are domesticated animals. They don’t need as much attention as dogs, but they still need your love. Sometimes they seem standoffish and uninterested in their people, and they can spend a lot of time hiding under the bed or napping, but sooner or later they’ll need human companionship and human touch. In fact, studies suggest that cats will sometimes choose human attention in preference to food.
A cat in your life can bring countless hours of companionship, happiness and even joy. However, there are also costs and responsibilities. It’s important to know what you’re getting into before you bring Fluffy home with you.