Kittens are cute and easy to come by, however many people will rush into cat ownership only to regret it later, usually when the cat has grown up and is no longer “cute”. This link is an attempt to help people decide if they are truly ready to enter the world of cat ownership.
1. Are you 18 or older? In most countries, most ethical sellers will not sell kittens or cats to anyone under the age of 18. Sure, you can ask your mom or dad to get the cat, but then technically they are the true owner. Considerations as to what will happen to the cat when you move out must be made. It is very difficult to find rental property that allows pets.
2. Do you own, or rent, your home? As just mentioned, very few landlords allow cats. Landlord permission to keep a cat should be in writing. One of the most common reasons pets are given up to animal shelters is because people did not get landlord permission to have a pet.
3. Will the cat be indoors, outdoors, or both? Some areas have laws restricting a cat to remain on its owners property. Care should be taken to keep a cat on one's property even where these laws do not exist as cat haters are well known to exist and will torture, kill, or dispose of, cats who make themselves a nuisance. As a general rule indoor-only cats live longer lives.
4. Will the cat be declawed? Claws are a natural part of being a cat; removing them is like removing part of your finger. It is considered cruel in many countties and is illegal in some. There are many behavioral problems seen as side effects from declawing, including failure to use the litter box.
5. Do you have young children? The main concern with young children is, will they be gentle to the cat or kitten? Youngsters excited about holding a kitten can hurt it, and those who do not let go in time will be scratched and may lash out at the cat to punish it. Young children and cats must be watched. Also, while it is a myth that cats will try to suffocate babies, they do like to lay in the crib with them, so keeping the door shut should be an option.
6. Are you stable? A person who is about to move in a few months or planning a holiday, might want to put off getting a cat for a while until things have settled.
7. Do you have a place for the litter box? Many people deal with this after getting the cat, moving the box from place to place until they find a final spot for it, but this may confuse the cat. Litter boxes should be put someplace quiet, not next to a noisy laundry machine, and should be easy for a cat to find.
8. Why do you want a cat? A pet is a lifetime commitment. Getting one should not be taken lightly. “Because it's cute” is not a reason for getting a kitten or cat. One of the biggest reasons cats are surrendered is because people got them on a whim and did not fully think out the “lifetime commitment” part of the arrangement.
9. Can you afford a cat? Not just the purchase price, but food, and veterinarian expenses (vaccination, worming, and spaying or neutering). What about emergency expenses? A person living pay check to pay check may find it hard to provide all the care their new cat requires.
10. Is everyone in the home in agreement? Pets should never be surprises. If one family member strongly disagrees, is fearful, or has allergies, getting a cat will jeopardize family harmony. Even other pets should be considered. Some dog breeds have strong hunting instincts and cats should not be brought into these kinds of risky situations..
11. Where will you get the cat? Cats and kittens are fairly easy to come by. There are usually “Free to Good Home” ads in the newspaper at any given time. However, it may be less costly to adopt a cat who has had all the medical work done to it, than to get a kitten who has never seen a veterinarian (and may have all kinds of problems). Stores and breeders also sell kittens, but it is easy to pay too much; be sure when buying a purebred that the parents have been to shows, earned championship titles, to prove their worth as breeding animals. Never pay a cent for a cat who has not seen a veterinarian and been vaccinated.
Remember, getting a cat is not the same as getting a new pair of shoes. This is a life, one that will be affected by everything you do. If you rush into ownership and later have regrets, that cat is now considered (by some) as "damaged goods" and will have a hard time finding a new home. In some shelters cats over 1 year of age have only a 10% chance of finding a new home. By entering into the world of cat ownership responsibly one can hope to have a happy ending.
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