- Think about your needs, as well as the needs of the cat
- Work out the costs before you commit
- Kittens aren't the only option; consider an older cat, especially if you live in a flat
Would having a cat suit your lifestyle?
The idea of a furry new addition to your home is seriously exciting, but it's important to be realistic about how easily you could look after your cat.
For example, if you live in a small flat with no access to the outdoors, a kitten or a larger cat that craves time outside to explore wouldn't be sensible for you, nor kind to the animal. If you haven't already, you should also check with your landlord or building manager if you are allowed a pet.
Consider how much time you have to spare for their upkeep and wellbeing. Certain cats, such as long-haired Persians, need a lot of TLC; they require daily grooming and also need their eyes cleaned on a regular basis to avoid the build-up of tear duct fluids.
Regardless of breed, all indoor cats need their litter scooped out once a day and completely replaced on a weekly basis; cats won't use a dirty litter tray so, for your own good, you'll need to stay on top of this!
For the sake of your cat and your furniture, you'll also need to trim their claws from time to time. Outdoor cats may not need this doing so often, but indoor cats who aren't particularly attached to their scratching post will need regular claw checks and occasional clipping to prevent the claws growing painfully into the pads and to minimise claw damage to your furniture.
Although cats aren't pack animals, they do enjoy company and attention. Think about how much time you'll have to play with and pet your moggy – and invest in a few great toys to keep them entertained.
What about the cost?
If you're getting a pedigree kitten or cat, be prepared to pay an increased fee and make sure you're getting your new feline friend from a reputable breeder.
Adopting a rescue cat will avoid the initial up-front fee for the cat itself, but shelters will ask for money to help towards costs – such as neutering, microchipping and vaccinations.
A rescue cat's previous owner will have had an influence on its behaviour and personality. For example, if you want an indoor cat, you should adopt one that stayed indoors in her last home. Indoor cat owners could really benefit from choosing a cat that has a medical condition or one that is over twelve years of age.
If you're opting for a kitten – whether they're a pedigree, a moggy or a rescue – you'll need to invest in vaccinations, neutering and microchipping if they're going to be let outside.
On top of that, there'll be initial outgoings on a carrier, litter tray and bed (not that you can guarantee they'll use it…), as well as the ongoing cost of food, litter and veterinary treatments. It's also worth considering pet insurance in case something happens to your cat.
If you adopt a stray, or take a cat home from a shelter, then you should take your cat to the vet as soon as he comes home. If you are buying from a breeder, ask what checks the cat has already had.
What type of cat should you get?
Once they're neutered or spayed, there's very little difference in temperament between male and female cats – it is a question of which animal you fall in love with when you go to choose your pet.
In terms of breed, however, there are significant differences. The top five pedigree breeds in the UK are the British Shorthair, the Bengal, the Siamese, the Persian and the Ragdoll.
The Bengal is a large, athletic cat, known for being intelligent and lively, while Ragdolls are serious softies – they earnt their name for essentially collapsing in the arms of owners during a stroking session because they enjoy it so much!
If you're not going for a specific breed, it's important to spend some time with the cat before you commit. Also, if you're getting a kitten, try to see them at home with their mother to get a better sense of how they'll behave when you take them to your home.
We've created a quick quiz to help you decide what type of cat to get. Simply answer a few questions to discover what kind of cat is right for you.
Indoor or outdoor?
If you're looking to get an indoor cat, but you and the rest of the household are out at work for the bulk of the day, you could consider an older cat.
Your local shelter is likely to have plenty to choose from, particularly black or black and white cats, and giving an adult cat a loving home can be an extremely fulfilling experience.
There are other benefits, too: they're likely to be vaccinated, possibly even microchipped, and housetrained, meaning you don't need to worry so much about the welfare of your furniture.
What's more, they won't have as much energy as a kitten, so will require less attention – and will be grateful for a warm, calm, caring home.
More paws for thought
There are other logistical considerations that would be worth going through before you bring your furry friend home. Firstly, if you've decided to let them outside, you should make sure that you live in a cat-friendly area and that the roads are safe.
Another thing to look out for is a nearby vet and, if there isn't one in your vicinity, work out how easily you could get to one.
Finally, there's preparing your home. Read our article about getting your home ready for your first pet on @heart – covering scratching posts, beds, litter trays andcat-proofing your home..
When your cat first sets paws in his or her new home, they will be disorientated, so give them time to relax and come out of their shell. They may be nervous, so try to avoid any big changes, like parties or DIY work, within the first few weeks.
In the meantime, enjoy dreaming about how much joy your new pet pal is sure to bring.