Looking for an animal companion? One that will eagerly await your return home, shower you with affection, and ask very little in return? If you’ve been asking yourself, “Should I get a cat?”, then you’ve come to the right place.
This article will delve into the ins and outs of feline ownership, what it takes to be a cat parent, and whether or not a cat is the right pet for you at this time in your life. If it is, we just might have the cat for you, and if not, you may realize that a cat is something better left to your future and you’ll be better prepared when you’re ready to share your life with a furry feline friend.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Cat
“Should I get a cat?” isn’t the only question you should be asking before bringing home a furry feline. Here are a few things to consider:
Do I have time for a cat?
Cats don’t demand a lot of attention, but they also cannot be left alone for long periods of time. Just like a child, left to their own devices without any distractions, they can become destructive. (Most cat owners have felt the sting of revenge when they’ve regularly worked overtime or gone on vacation.)
Before bringing home a cat, it’s important to seriously analyze your lifestyle to see if it can accommodate a pet. How often are you home? Do you travel regularly or for long periods of time? Do you have the bandwidth to add another element to your household?
If you’ve got a regular job and only travel occasionally, then a cat is a good option. If you’re single, live alone, and make frequent out of town trips and are gone for long periods of time…then not so much.
If you have a roommate or significant other who can pick up the slack if you work long hours or travel regularly, then getting a cat is a maybe, if, and only if, that person is willing to share the responsibility of cat ownership.
The same is all true if you have a family. Just make sure that you’re not already pulled in too many directions, and that adding one more element to your already hectic life won’t tip you over the edge.
Are there any health issues I have that would be exacerbated by having a cat?
Allergies to cat hair and dander are actually very common. In fact, about a third of the U.S. population has some sort of allergic reaction to cats, be it asthma, itchy eyes, runny nose or a rash. Not everyone has an inhalant allergy to cats though, as there are people who only react when scratched, leaving the area itchy and swollen.
If you do have an allergy, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of owning a cat. You can keep over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestant sprays on hand for use when needed, get regular allergy shots to desensitize you, or get one of the 5 cat breeds that work best for people with allergies. (See the section below on Selecting a Cat Breed.)
Owning a cat while pregnant, particularly when single, is also not advised. It’s not the cat itself, but an issue with the cat feces and the need to regularly change the litter box. Cat feces can contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis, a serious infection that can be passed on to your unborn child. There are ways around this, such as using gloves when cleaning the litter box, changing the litter daily, and keeping your cat indoors.
Can I put up with upkeep required?
Cats are fairly low maintenance and clean animals, but you do need to prepare yourself for certain realities. There’s the litter box, which will have some odor, and require regular cleaning. You’ll also have to deal with the trail of litter that inadvertently makes its way out of the box on the paws of your cat.
There’s also the hairballs, which is a common occurrence and usually these land in the most inopportune places, like inside your slipper, on the bedspread, or on the rug placed by the front door to greet you as you come home. Hairballs clean up fairly easily, but if left too long the enzymes can mar wood or stain fabric.
You’ll need to regularly brush your cat—and clean cat hair off of pillows, chairs, couches and other furniture—as well as trim their nails regularly.
And, if you should be so lucky (sarcasm here), you may get a scratcher who takes a liking to your curtains, favorite armchair or other household items. There are ways to minimize damage and correct the behavior, so all is not lost. Just know that this is a possibility.
Is my living space cat-friendly?
If you have an infant or small child that has yet to learn to be gentle, then getting a cat may not be wise at this time. You don’t want to see the cat abused and you don’t want a cat lashing out at your child.
Are the other members of the household amenable to a cat? This would be significant others, roommates, and even other animals.
If you live in an apartment, does your lease allow animals? If a condo or townhouse, do the CC&Rs prohibit animals?
Should You Get a Kitten or an Adult Cat?
If you’ve gotten this far and found your answer to “Should I Get a Cat?”, then it’s time to determine if a kitten or an adult cat is right for you. There are certain advantages and disadvantages to both of these, so let’s take a quick look.
Kittens: First and foremost is the cute and cuddly factor. Honestly, there is very little that is more endearing that a tiny little furball kitten that enjoys to be held and loved. While they have yet to learn any bad habits, they will require training, which requires diligence, consistency, and patience. You’ll need to litter train, which means cleaning up accidents until achieved. You’ll need to train them not to bite, scratch your furniture, or attack your children or other animals. The good thing is that because they’re so cute, you can easily forgive them their transgressions, so as long as you have the time and inclination to properly train them, you’ll be fine.
Adult Cats: The majority of adult cats are litter trained, they tend to be cleaner overall, and you won’t have to go through the teething phase. They may also be better with smaller children, as they are less fragile than kittens. However, adult cats can come with bad habits or behaviors caused by previous ownership. This can include aggression, biting, scratching, and spraying. But, just like a kitten, these issues can be resolved with training. While not all cats have bad habits, do prepare for the worse and hope for the best.
Selecting a Cat Breed
Unlike dogs, the majority of cats are mixed breed, especially those we see come into the shelter. However, there are about 40 recognized cat breeds available in the U.S. today, each with specific traits that allow you to choose a cat that fits your personality.
There are certain breeds that are suitable for single individuals. These cats don’t require extensive human interaction, can live in a smaller environment (like a studio apartment), but still provide love and companionship. These include the Birman, Kurilian Bobtail, Persian and Tonkinese.
If you’ve got a family, where children add a different dynamic, then a cat that is more affectionate and likes to play may be in order. In this case, options would be the American Shorthair, Burmese, Maine Coon, and the Ragdoll.
Referencing our earlier discussion on allergies, there are 5 cat breeds that you can consider that may not trigger any reaction, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hairless. There’s the Balinese-Javanese, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Sphynx, and the Siberian, which is actually a fluffy cat.
For more details on these breeds and their personality traits, check out our article on the Best Cat Breeds here.
Why You Should Adopt
We all know there are different ways to get a cat, including from friends and family, through a breeder, pet store, or a shelter/rescue organization. We, of course, encourage adoption from our shelter. Here are a few reasons why you should consider adoption:
- The cost is relatively low.
- All cat adoptions include:
- Spay or neuter
- FVRCP vaccination
- One routine deworming
- Microchip (Free registration with email address)
- One complimentary application of flea and tick control
- A complimentary exam at one of our participating veterinary clinics
- Adopted mixed-breed cats tend to be healthier and live longer than purebreds, due to what is known as “hybrid vigor.” And kitten mills (as well as the pet stores they sell to) breed their cats so often that their health and the health of the kittens is often questionable.
- …and best of all, you are saving a life. While we do our very best to have a no-kill policy, the fact is that we have a finite amount of space and resources, so by adopting a cat you are rescuing it from possible euthanasia.
How to Adopt
Come on down! The CCSPCA has dozens of kittens and adult cats for you to choose from. You can visit the CCSPCA Cattery (103 S. Hughes Avenue, Fresno), 7 days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM (6 PM on Wednesdays) or find an an off-site location around Fresno.
In addition to the items we include in all cat adoptions (listed above) we also offer additional pre-adoption services for an additional charge:
- Additional FVRCP Vaccination (when applicable)
- FELV/FIV Testing
- FeLV Vaccination
- Rabies Vaccination
- Capstar (kills fleas within 60 minutes so you don’t take them home)
- Ear Mite Treatment (when applicable)
- Grooming at CCSPCA Grooming Salon
- Dental Care (when applicable)
- Additional Applications of a flea/tick control
Adopting your first pet? Make sure you download our Ultimate Guide for People New to Adopting here.
We started with the question “Should I Adopt a Cat?” We’ve gone through the reasons why you should or shouldn’t, if a kitten or adult cat is your best option, and whether a purebred or adoptable cat is for you. We hope that you’ve found this valuable in answering your question, and we very much hope to see you soon, as we have lots of kittens and cats for you to love.
Download our Cat Care Tips Quick Reference Guide here to get started learning about cat care.