What You Need to Know about Owning Cats BEFORE You Bring One Home
Cats are the greatest. PERIOD. That’s why I have 4!!! But, I think that a lot of people get a cat without knowing what they are getting into. They remember that fuzzy Persian kitty stuffed animal they had sitting on their bed when they were a kid but when they have the real deal in their home they kind of freak out.
I’ve put this list together for one reason only. It’s not because I think you’re dumb and it’s not because I want to talk anyone into or out of getting a pet. I want every cat to have a good home. EVERY CAT. Period. A good home is one where the owner knows what they’re getting into and gives their pet everything they need to be healthy and happy.
Here are my tips, thoughts and things to consider when getting a cat as a pet…
1. You’re going to have to decide if this is an inside cat, outside cat or a little bit of both. If your cat is ever outside unattended you need to keep one thing in mind. Things happen to cats all of the time. Other animals get them, they get run over by cars and sometimes they just plain disappear. My cats are inside ONLY because of this. I feel sad that they don’t get to enjoy outside like other cats but I know that they’re safe.
2. Like ANY pet, a cat is a little creature that depends on you. When you take one in you are responsible for providing everything that animal needs. Love and attention are free, but some of it is going to cost you money. You have to buy food, litter and pay for vet visits along with regular medications like flea and tick treatments.
3. A cat is not a dog. Cats are far more independent creatures than dogs. So if you want a pet that will sit on your lap at the exact moment you want them to, you’ll probably be better off looking at dogs.
4. A cat keeps weird hours and tend to be nocturnal and sometimes it can drive you nuts. You’re asleep and having wonderfully peaceful dreams when you start to notice an awful shrill sound. You wake up with a cat a foot away from your face howling. Sometimes they want you to love on them, play with them or move so they can have your spot. Because of this I honestly think cats work better in pairs. If they have a buddy to play with and clean and snuggle with they will.
5. Cats will shred up your business if you don’t take preventative measures. Start clipping your cat’s nails the second you get him or her. That very first day. If you get them started early they’ll be used to it. They get so used to it you can sometimes even cut their nails while they’re asleep and they won’t even wake up.
6. Cats will shred up your business (5 continued) purchase or make a scratching post BEFORE you bring your cat into your home. Show your cat how to use it. Scratch your fingers along the sisal. The sound will bring them over and if you’re lucky they’ll immediately get after it. If not just do this every once in a while and they’ll eventually pick it up. Cats are very smart creatures.
7. Cats shed. A lot. This may sound silly but it may be a good idea to color coordinate a bit. Only wear black? A white cat is going to seriously jack up your wardrobe. I know there are lint rollers out there and they work very well, but just trust me on this one.
8. While we’re talking about hair, some cats require regular grooming. Like to the groomer’s which costs money. If considering a cat with long hair ask around to see what the cost will be like and how regularly you’ll need to take your kitty in.
9. If you don’t have boy cats neutered they’re going to be desperate to wander. If you don’t get girl cats spayed you are going to be up a creek when they go in heat. They yowl, they howl, they writhe around like they are possessed and it’s the loudest and worst at night. If you’ve ever tried to sleep in the house with a lady cat in heat before it is a friggin’ NIGHTMARE.
10. Feral cats will scratch you. You can definitely tame them but it takes time and love and trust. I have scars here and there from where one “got” me but when they decided they loved me, THEY LOVED ME.
11. Cats don’t travel well. Invest in a pet carrier. If they get sick, leave them in the carrier until you are someplace contained (like the vet’s office or inside of the bathroom somewhere).
As an example, I once had to explain to a police officer who pulled me over why I was bawling with makeup all over my face while wearing a torn blouse with a lot of blood on it and my lady parts somewhat visible through it: Taking a stray to its new home, it vomited and had diarrhea in the cat carrier in my car. She wanted this stuff out of her crate and started pushing it out of the holes and onto my seat. I freaked out because I had purchased my car only 2 days before.
I stopped at a convenience store to use their hose to clean out the crate. When I took her out she freaked and scratched the bejesus out of me. The whole time I was worried she would get away from me and into the woods where I could be sure I’d never find her again. So I cleaned her with the hose while she continued to fight me and I put her loose into my car.
I then spent then next hour trying to coax her out from somewhere under the dash (where she had torn the carpet up to get into in my car that was 2 days old). Oh, and I don’t know if the cop believed me but I didn’t get a ticket or anything.
12. Cats kill things. Don’t be surprised when you find any number of dead things on your porch or on your bed. Cats are hunters by nature and getting upset with them will do no good even if it is upsetting to find a dead bird on your floor. They cannot help it. They are animals with animal instincts.
This can also be a good thing. If you happen to get a mouse in the house it won’t last long enough to chew up your electrical lines or do much damage before they get gotten. Sad for the mouse and your electrician but good for your pocket book.
13. Some cats do not play well with others. I took a feral kitty into my guest bedroom but gave her easy access to the outside. She was separated until she could go to the vet to ensure she didn’t have feline leukemia, aids or something that would get my other two kitties sick.
When she got the all clear and we tried to integrate she ran after Marla who was on Russell’s lap. Rowena (the feral kitty) attacked him and he has scars up and down his forearms but she could have killed Marla. Nowadays she lives in the country and she is much happier alone.
I loved Ro so much but she just wasn’t meant to live here with us. If adopting an adult pet be sure you can return them (as awful as that sounds) if things don’t work out and they can’t live peacefully with your existing pet(s).
14. Litter box. Ugh. Just. Ugh. But if you’re going to have them it’s a part of the deal. Everybody poops. You need to keep their box clean which means cleaning it at least once in the morning and once in the evening. A good example would be before you leave for work and when you get home. If you properly maintain your litter box you should have no issues with your cats going where they shouldn’t be (like on the carpet). Everyone I’ve ever known who has had issues has been lazy with the cat box. Looking for a good and cheap DIY litter box, got you covered!
15. Cats puke a lot even if they’re perfectly healthy. You get used to it.
16. Cats are playful and fun creatures. They may not come to you when you want to just pet on them, but bust out a crack stick (you can make one here) or a laser pointer and you’ve got company quick smart. They also need regular play time and do well when they have a couple of toys to choose from.
17. Cats are very empathetic creatures. When I don’t feel well all of my cats take an interest. If I’m laid up in bed, I will always, ALWAYS have at least one laying with me and letting me pet them.
18. Along the same vein as 17, cats can sense when you’re stressed out or upset. I have a hard time with anxiety. One thing that can help calm me down is the repetitive nature of petting an animal. If I’m freaking out a cat on my lap will help me calm down. Whenever I’m freaking out, the cats know it. They’re concerned and come around. While independent, cats are incredibly observant and compassionate creatures.
19. Cats are smart and have a long memory. If you have a guest that is a jerk to them once, they’ll always hate that guest. Always. If a cat wants to figure out a way to get into the top level of the linen cabinet, even when you see no way that they could, they will and they’ll shed all over your clean sheets.
20. Everybody wants kittens, if you’re in a place to take in a rescue, look at the older cats. I swear the older ones will always remember what you saved them from.
21. If taken care of properly, cats can live to be 20+ years old, making them a perfect choice for someone looking for a long-term companion. They also take less energy than a dog making them a good choice for less active or elderly owners.
22. Every cat has their own personality and that is so much fun. My littlest Marla is the big boss and she struts around like she owns the place. Max loves water and takes a shower with me and will talk your face off (just like me). He’ll only quiet down after you exchange words with him for a bit. Gracie loves strangers and can’t stay awake at night. He tries but he’s not nocturnal like the others. Liddy doesn’t understand personal space and is happiest when she’s on your lap all. of. the. time.
There isn’t a perfect mold that cats come out of. Some of the above may pertain to you and your kitty and some may not.
And if you love cats, you LOVE cats. Seriously. Search for the tag #cat or #cats in Instagram (or even just look at my cat filled feed). Cats make wonderful pets and if you take care of them they will always be one of the best companions you could ask for.
Want to see some stuff you can make for your cat or future cat? Check out my Crazy Cat Lady Roundup.