Adopting a cat is a big responsibility. Remember that your new cat will be part of your life for a long time. The average indoor cat lives approximately 14 to 15 years, depending on breed, and it is not unusual for pet cats to live years longer. Therefore, it is important to choose the cat that is truly right for yourself and also your family, and establish excellent care habits right away. Here are some things to consider when you adopt a cat.
Cats have different personalities and temperaments. Some are very active, while others are more laid-back. Some like a lot of attention, and some prefer to be left alone. Think about your home life and the type of bond you hope you to build with your cat, and choose one whose temperament is a good fit with your family.
Many cats are social with people, and many love to spend time with other cats. Some are also friendly with other animals, such as dogs or even ferrets. If you don’t have other animals in your home, consider adopting two cats of similar temperament. They will keep each other company as well as you!
Plan ahead for the costs of cat ownership. Besides your initial supplies and adoption fee, you will need to provide food, litter, treats, and new toys on an ongoing basis. You will also need to plan for veterinary costs. At a minimum, a healthy cat needs an initial trip to the vet, and then a physical exam and core vaccinations once per year. Parasite prevention is lifelong, and as cats age blood and urine testing is needed to identify diseases early on. We see cats daily for problems such as accidents, injuries, eating a part of a toy or a hair tie, and other minor and major illnesses. Pet health insurance is now available and policies can be written just for catastrophic problems or to cover even wellness exams. Some of our clients budget for their cats’ health care needs, and other use cat health insurance.
Before picking up your new cat, get a quiet place in your home ready for him or her. Purchase cat food, a cat carrier, toys, a grooming comb and treats. If you can find out the cat’s current diet, buy the same food for a few weeks so the cat has familiar food to eat. We recommend a collar to use with an identification tag even if the cat also has a microchip and even if you plan on keeping the cat exclusively indoor.
Make a plan for how you will introduce your new cat to your family, as well as to any existing pets. Your cat may be nervous, especially in a busy household, and if there is room, turn over a small room to your new cat for a few days. Gently talk to your cat through the door, and take turns sitting in the room with the cat one at a time while he or she gets to know you. Introduce other pets slowly, and never leave two unfamiliar animals together unsupervised.
6. Cat Proofing
Cats, like toddlers, love to explore their environment and inadvertently get into things that can be dangerous to them. Make sure all cleaning supplies and other toxins are put away. Remove any cat-unfriendly plants from your home. Hide people food in the cabinets or refrigerator and secure breakable items. Remember that cats climb and jump, so putting things up high will not necessarily protect them from your cat.
7. Emergency Planning
Revisit your family’s emergency plans to account for caring for your cat. What will you do with your cat if you must evacuate from your home? Do you have extra supplies in case you are snowbound for a few days? Do you have the phone number and address of a nearby emergency vet? Can a friend or relative take your cat if you are hospitalized or otherwise unable to care for it for several days or weeks? Consider keeping in your wallet a note to the finder detailing that there are pets at home that need care.
A cat is a highly rewarding addition to the family. Adding a cat to your home means taking on new responsibilities. Take the time to plan for your cat’s arrival, and be careful to choose a cat that fits well with your family, and we hope that you will find that the benefits far outweigh the difficulties.
Established in 1994, The Cat Hospital focuses solely on the health and well-being of cats. Our veterinarian, Dr. Maureen Ricksgers, has worked exclusively with cats since 1988, and our entire team consists of cat lovers who work hard to create a calm, quiet, feline-friendly hospital setting. If you are ready to reduce your cat’s stress levels and get started with a veterinarian who truly understands what cats need, we invite you to call us today at (413) 586-2287.