The time has come to pick a pet, and after some deliberations you have settled on a cat. Owning a pet can boost your immune system as endorphins are released in the body to make you happy. Looking after a pet benefits your mental health and wellbeing generally.
For many, the love for a cat is different than for a dog. This is what leads people to think we are either cat lovers or dog lovers; however, it is usually other defining factors about a cat’s or a dog’s personality that appeals to us. Dog’s behaviour varies more than a cat’s, and each cat has its own individual quirks that help us decide on a particular kitten.
Deciding Whether a Cat is the Best Choice?
Many households already have other pets. If you already have a dog, then a cat may find it difficult to settle in. Some pets get along, while others will not. If you already have other cats, then a new addition may cause some turmoil as each cat tries to get used to sharing space and vying for your attention. However, with careful management, a new pet will settle into your home and find a way to get along with everyone and every other pet in it!
Choosing a Cat Breed
A cat can live for as long as 20 years, often much longer than a dog. This will require a long-term view in terms of your time and commitment to caring for your pet.
There are as many as 40 different pedigree cat breeds and many variations of mixed-breed cats available. You may already have a preference for a pedigree cat or are more focussed on finding the perfect kitty in terms of age, temperament, colour, sex, size and personality that is not restricted to a specific breed.
If you are specifically looking for a pedigree cat, you will pay a lot more for one. Each breed will have certain characteristics atypical to their breed type from size, colour or appearance. You also have a choice of long-hair and short-hair breeds. Long-hair breeds will need regular grooming to prevent matted coats. If you cannot afford daily time grooming a long-haired cat, then opt for a short-haired variety. Some cats are vocal while others are less so. Irrespective of the breed, your cat will want to spend time with you and appreciate sharing your affection albeit generally on their own terms as cats are not as needy as dogs.
If you want to breed or show your cat, then it will have to be a pedigree variety. You can find out more about specific varieties by getting in touch with local fancier societies. Breeders will be able to advise you on the availability of kittens and the likely costs. Pure bred cats can be significantly more expensive that mixed breed cats.
Once you have found the breed that you want, try and visit the litter as often as you can before making a decision on which kitten you would like. You will not get to take your pet home until the kitten is at least seven weeks old. Choose a kitten that interacts with you positively without showing too much aggression or timidity. Any kitten you choose should look healthy with bright eyes, clean teeth and a shiny fur. Insist on a veterinary examination and ensure a vaccination programme and de-flea regime is in place. As with all young animals, make sure you get to see both of the parents so that you can assess the likely temperament and characteristics of your kitten. Choosing a pet cat from a home that mirrors some of your own domestic situation will help your kitten make the natural progression from one home to another. Socialisation with people will be important to ensure that your pet cat is friendly and outgoing.
Adopt a Cat or Buy a Kitten?
Of course, the general answer is that it up to you whether you adopt an adult cat or kitten or buy a kitten. Many adult cats will already be house trained to use a litter tray. Kittens are playful and energetic and will want more of your time. Depending on your domestic situation and other pets in your home, you may want to consider an adult cat over a bumptious and inquisitive kitten. A kitten will not have developed some of the behavioural issues that may be associated with a rescue cat from a re-homing centre that has been maltreated by a previous owner. That said, cats adapt well to their new environment and adjust well to their new home and new owners.
There are many abandoned cats in shelters and re-homing centres due to cats being prolific breeders and due to people being unable to look after their pet due to changes in their own circumstances. You will normally get to see cats available and be asked questions about your suitability as a new owner. Do not be offended by the interrogation, the re-homing centre staff want to make you aware of any particular individual needs a particular cat has and also ensure that you will be a good and responsible cat owner. Most cats will be neutered or spayed to prevent unwanted kittens or you will be asked to arrange for this operation before you can take the cat home.
The Impact of a Cat on Your Family
A kitten may be playful, mischievous bundle of joy, but a kitten’s claws can be painful to young children left unsupervised. Therefore, just like all child-pet interactions, it is best to keep an eye on things. A kitten will be able to willing to take chances as it learns about its environment but he or she will need to be handled carefully to avoid crushes, falls, and other potential damage to its internal and external body.
Deciding on a Male or Female Cat
You may not have thought about whether you have a preference of gender of your pet cat. Some people believe that as long as your pet is neutered, then they will make home loving pets. Male cats that have not been neutered can display natural but unwanted behaviours from spraying urine while marking their territory, wandering, become injured in fights over un-neutered females and over territory. Female cats can breed from an early age so care needs to be taken over unwanted pregnancies. Arranging a suitable neutering programme with your veterinarian is important irrespective of owning a male or female cat.
For many people, it is more important to consider the cat’s personality rather than make a choice purely on gender. Males will be bigger than females and the sex of your other pet cats will perhaps be a consideration.