Should I adopt a kitten? Nine things to consider.
If you are reading this post, you are probably interested in getting a cat! You’ve (hopefully) done your research and a lot of deep thought and decided that a cat could be your next perfect companion. While you may think that you had made up your mind on what you are looking for in a cat, take pause. As an owner of two cats, I have compiled a list of areas that most new cat owners do not take into consideration, but let’s face it…they just don’t know to.
So, before you jump right into getting a cat, read these 9 things every cat owner should know before officially deciding to get a cat.
1. Understand they are different than dogs
First and most importantly, as a potential cat owner, you must remember that cats are VERY different from dogs. They do not require walks like dogs, but most of the time their behavior is not the same as a dog either. That is not a bad thing, they are just different. Cats will not play fetch with you (usually, there are some cats who love fetch), and will not want constant petting and attention as a dog. If you are wanting a dog-like cat, you will be very disappointed in almost any cat you adopt.
In order to be the best future cat owner for your little buddy, you must make sure you are in the right mindset for a cat. Cats sleep during the day, require less exercise than dogs, and are usually wary of humans wanting them all the time. There are of course pros and cons to all the differences between dogs and cats, but it is very important that you understand them before making a mistake.
2. Make sure you can afford cats
Secondly, cats cost money. Sometime people may have found a homeless stray cat on the side of the road and decided to take it in, but cats still require money spent on them. They need food, food bowls, water dishes, a littler box, litter, a scratching pad, toys, a bed, and sometimes a climbing tree if possible.
Each of these items cost money, and most are continuous expenses that you need to be able to continue to pay for your cat. You don’t want to be all excited, get a cat and then only be able to afford food OR litter. That is simply not fair to the cat. In addition, just because you can afford cheap food and a small litter box does not mean that you can afford a cat.
Imagine how you would feel if you got thrown into a small house with lousy food and a small bathroom. Most likely not as great as you would feel in a comfortable home, with food and enough room to use the bathroom freely. (Now one important thing to point out, I am not saying you need to be rich in order to afford a cat). If you can buy middle shelf level cat food, a big enough litter box, litter to maintain the litter box and something for your cat to scratch, then you usually can financially afford a cat.
The next portion of owning a cat that often people forget (even me sometimes) is being able to take the animal to the vet. Like humans, cats need their yearly check-ups, shots, and evaluations in order to live their best lives. You need to ensure you will be able to also expense out any check-ups or shots on a yearly basis at a minimum. I also recommend owners budget out a little “rainy day” money for themselves in case their cats get sick, need a surgery, or have something happen to them. The worst feeling in the world is knowing your pet needs your help, but not being able to pay for them to receive that help.
3. Each cat is different, don’t compare yours to others
This one is just as important as understanding the differences between cats and dogs. Every single cat has their own little personality, you cannot compare your cat to video stars, your friends’ cats, or any other cats you already have.
One example I will use is my two cats. The oldest just turned 4 and I have had her for about 3 years. She is an extremely mellow cat who always enjoys snuggling up with her humans and being around people constantly. My second cat is pretty much a kitten. She just turned 1, and I have only had her for about 8 months. She is the complete opposite of my first cat. She is wild, skittish, hyper, and always wants to play with me (if no strangers are around). When the door opens, the first cat runs to the door to greet whoever is there (almost like a dog, I know, I’m spoiled with her). In the same instance as the door opens, the second cat darts to find any hiding spot available.
Neither of these traits are bad, they are just different and therefore require different variations of care. It may take some time for a new pet owner to find their groove in the best way to care for their new addition, but in time it comes to you.
4. Do you already have a pet?
Another thing to consider before adopting is looking at your current situation. Do you already have a pet? If so, have you fully thought about bringing another pet into his/her life? I am not saying that each owner should only have one pet at all! But as I stated above, every animal is different, and some react to animals differently than others.
If you do already have a pet, make sure you are ready and able to take the additional steps that are required when introducing your new cat to its new family.
5. Cats still require responsibility
‘Cats are easy! All you have to do is leave food out for them and a place to go to the bathroom!’ If I have a dollar for every time I heard that comment made, I would be a very wealthy woman. And while yes, cats are easy in relation to dogs and babies, they do still require responsibility.
Before making the decision to get a cat, it is important that whoever is going to be the owner of this cat is willing and able to step up and take responsibility for this living creature. I have noticed a lot of times parents will get their child a pet kitten to help teach responsibility. I think that is a great idea, personally! While cats do not need to be taken outside to go to the bathroom multiple times a day, they still require effort.
Cat owners must be able to feed their cats daily, scoop out the litter boxes, give them enough playing time to keep their spirits up and groom them as necessary. If you are someone who notoriously forgets to clean out the litter box for days on end, a cat may not be the best pet for you.
Additionally, cats- like dogs- can shed. They require a certain amount of grooming and maintenance in order to keep everyone happy. Whether you decide to brush them on a routine basis or are willing to vacuum multiple times a week, some level of upkeep needs to be done. Otherwise, you will like in a house full of cat hair and potential hairballs.
6. Feral versus Domestic Cat
Some may have gotten to this section and paused. Not out of sheer interest by my amazing story-telling abilities, but out of confusion. What is a feral versus domestic cat? Well, then GREAT QUESTION! Many times, when people go to adopt a cat, it is because it is a cat they found and are wanting to keep. When taking this into consideration, you potential owners need to analyze whether this cat is a domesticated cat or a feral cat. I will talk a little bit about feral cats below but you can read a full article about feral cats here
Feral cats are wild cats that have only known wild. They have not been introduced to humans and are often times afraid of humans, as that is what they have been taught watching their mother and others. Feral cats will be much more hesitant to you petting them, picking them up, and sometimes even keeping them in the house. This is not to say that feral cats should never be adopted, my family has two right now, but they are different and will behave differently than domesticated cats.
Feral cats often want to be indoor/outdoor cats and take longer to warm up to a new household. My second cat is a previously feral cat who has since been around humans. She does not have the desire to go outside like other feral cats I know, but in order to pick her up, she does require to be ‘scruffed’. What is scruffed you may be asking now? Well scruffing in grabbing the cats on the back of the neck where their extra skin is and picking them up. ‘WHAT?! THAT’S SO CRUEL! HOW COULD YOU PICK AN ANIMAL UP LIKE THAT?! AND RECOMMEND IT?!!’ Listen, it looks and sounds a lot worse than it is. The reason why scruffing is recommended in cats is because that is actually how their mothers carry them. They have the excess skin on the back of their neck to allow their mothers to carry them from place to place.
And while a lot of time, potential pet owners may not have the option between a feral cat and a domesticated cat, it is still a very important piece of information to take into consideration before deciding to keep the pet. Will you be willing to have this cat be an indoor/outdoor cat? Will you be more patient than normal on simple steps with this cat? Are you willing to try and learn how to scruff your cat? Or at least learn a way to hold him/her so they are comfortable? If so, then whether the cat is domestic or feral will not matter.
7. Adopting versus Shopping
Adopting and shopping. I’m going to work very hard to keep this section small as I will touch on this topic more in depth at a later date, but it is a topic I am very passionate about. What is the difference between adopting and shopping? Adopting is finding an animal that does not have a home and helping it out. Shopping is looking specifically for a certain kind of animal because you like the way it looks or the level of sophistication behind it.
So many times, people will go hunting for super cute tiny kittens that are the exact color and breed they want simply because they want to be able to say they have a ‘white munchkin cat’ or a ‘black Persian cat’. And while there are always exceptions to these rules, a lot of times this decision is made out of selfishness.
Sitting in shelters right now are hundreds, no thousands, of cats that are waiting for their forever homes. They may not be an exact breed you are wanting, or not an 8-week-old kitten like everyone wants to have forever, but that does not make them any less of a cat.
If you are thinking of adopting a cat and do not have any limitations that require certain breeds, I highly recommend looking at your location animal shelter first. Not only will you most likely find a cat who fits you just as well as one you ‘shopped’ for, but it will also probably be an even better fit than you imagined. The cats in the shelters know what it is like to not have a home, to sleep in a small cage and not get human love all day every day. They are SO grateful for you and tend to be on the sweeter side of the spectrum in terms of cats.
Now to contradict myself completely, as I said before sometimes there are limiting factors that require people to have to shop around for a specific pet. This is not to say that those people are horrible people and should not have done that at all! You are the 1% people! Keep doing you! These are the people who need a hypo-allergenic cat or a cat that is hairless because of something in their house, or many other things. In all reality, there are some breeds that shed less in general, are less energetic than others, and some that are an overall better fit for families that require more searching than a local shelter. I am not here to say that any of them should not get their pet, because, in all honesty, those individuals probably did their research, and went the extra mile in order to get their cat. They had to work for that cat, which means they will be so thankful for the cat and the new cat will receive so much love in their new home.
Which is, at the end of the day, the real goal behind adopting and shopping am I right?
8. Be patient and keep an open mind.
Patience is a virtue. As I have stated before, every cat is different. Different personalities, different breeds, different walks of life. Each animal requires a different level of patience and a different amount of time to be able to show their true colors.
It is very important to be willing to be patient for the first few months of owning a cat. Some cats will be comfortable and sleeping in bed with you day one, some will hide under the bed for two weeks coming out only to go to the bathroom and roam the house at night. (Yes, those were the situations with my two cats…night and day!).
With that patience comes keeping an open mind about your new pet before throwing in the towel. The last thing you want to do is adopt a scared kitten, get frustrated that it is not coming out and playing with you, and give her back to the shelter. First, that is not good for you but most importantly that is detrimental to the cat.
A scared kitten is in an unfamiliar place and just as he/she is thinking of warming up to this new stranger, the stranger gets mad and gets rid of him/her. That cat is scarred for the rest of its life and being afraid of being ditched and left. And as for you, the owner, you are left without a cat sad and frustrated. Whereas if you would have kept an open mind that the cat was a little different and required more time to get comfortable, you could have the companion of a lifetime.
9. Make sure you have everything on the list for a happy cat!
Last but certainly not least, before you actually go and purchase the cat, you want to make sure you ALREADY have everything you need in order to have a successful first night with your cat. You do not want to be running from store to store gathering supplies when you could be at home playing with your wonderful new addition. In order to ensure you have absolutely everything for your new kitty, check out this FREE new kitty checklist. Spend more time with your new addition rather than on the computer looking for exactly what you need to make this little fluff happy.
Overall, cats can be great additions to families. They bring a great deal of joy and happiness to the lives they touch. If you are able to do all the things listed above in order to take care of a cat, then by all means…cat away. You will be providing your new friend will everything you both need to go through life happy, healthy and stress-free. (Well mostly stress-free, pet parents will always worry about their pets a little bit). If you have not already, I highly recommend taking the free quiz to determine which type of pet is best for you, then getting the checklist to take one piece of stress out of the equation of getting a new pet.