Although welcoming a feline friend into your home is hugely exciting, there are a few key things to consider before you take the plunge.
- 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 exciting, but it's important to be realistic about the time, effort and cost of cat ownership.
First things first: if you rent, check with your landlord or building manager if you're allowed a pet.
Then, consider your space. Can you offer access to a garden? Cats wanting to explore may not be the best choice for you.
Tally up how much time you have to spare for a cat's 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 attached to their scratching post will need regular claw checks and occasional clipping to prevent the claws growing painfully into the pads.
Although cats aren't pack animals, they do enjoy company and attention. Think about how much time you'll have to play with your moggy.
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 reduce the cost, but shelters will require money to help towards neutering, microchipping and vaccinations.
A rescue cat's previous owner will have had an influence on its behaviour and personality. If you want an indoor cat, you should adopt one that stayed indoors in its last home. Indoor cat owners could benefit from choosing a quieter, older cat.
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 before they start exploring the neighbourhood.
Don't forget a carrier and litter tray, food, litter, toys and veterinary treatments. It's also worth considering pet insurance in case your cat is injured or gets sick.
If you adopt, take your cat to the vet as soon as it comes home. If you're 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.
Breeds vary wildly, though, and you should do plenty of research to make a decision. 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 home.
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, and giving an adult cat a loving home can be fulfilling.
There are other benefits, too: they're more likely to be vaccinated, microchipped, and housetrained, so you don't need to worry 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
Decided to let your cat outside? Make sure you live in a cat-friendly area and 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.
When your cat first sets paws in their new home, they'll 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.
Whatever you decide, we wish you all the best with your new furry pal.
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