If you’ve never owned a Cat before, it can be a big decision.
Sharing your home with a new cat can be one of life’s greatest joys. However, the decision to make a cat or kitten a part of your home should not be taken lightly. Adopting a pet just because the kids have been begging for one usually ends up being a big mistake.
Cats may be with you for 10, 15, or even 20 years. If you have kids under six years old, consider waiting before you adopt a companion. Pet ownership requires children who are mature enough to be responsible. Do you have time for a pet? Cats and other animal companions cannot be ignored just because you’re tired or busy.
Are you prepared to keep and care for a new cat for his or her entire lifetime? When you adopt a pet, you are committing to care for the animal for his or her lifetime. Companion animals are members of your family, not toys to be disposed of because it is no longer convenient. Make sure that the costs associated with having a cat fit into your budget.
Cats require regular veterinary care, such as vaccinations and food. Be prepared for unexpected medical costs, such as emergency care or treatment for a chronic health problem.
If you already have a cat, and are looking for a second one, make sure that the two cats will get along well together.
Where to acquire your new cat or kitten?
Animal Shelters are the best source when looking for a pet. They have a great selection of adult cats for adoption, and they often have kittens. You can even find purebred animals if you are looking for a specific breed.
Animal shelters have trained staff that can determine the behavior of the cat (especially if it is an adult cat, kittens are far less predictable about what personality they will develop). You will have the added satisfaction of knowing you have given a home to a cat or kitten that needs you very much. Purebred Rescue Groups are run by people who have fallen in love with a specific breed and will set up a network of rescue people for that breed.
This is far more common with dogs, but there are some purebred cat rescue groups as well. They are an excellent place to look for your new cat. Pet stores are not good sources for animals, including kittens, as many of these receive their pets from cat breeding farms, which are similar to puppy mills.
Stay away as many do not take proper precautions and care and often buy cats and kittens from sources you would not, yourself, purchase from if you saw the situation in which the parents and kittens were kept. Some of the larger pet store chains, like PetSmart and Petco have now joined forces with local shelters and humane societies, holding adoption days for rescued pets instead.
Breeders tend to be more reputable than pet stores, but this if far from a sure thing. Some breeders are in it only for the money and do not breed to enhance the breed and don’t try to match the kitten with the new household he or she will be going to.
Good breeders will “interview” you to make sure that you are a person who is likely to provide their kitten with a good home. Don’t be offended by this approach, as they love their babies and want only the best for them. The best place to find a good breeder is a personal referral from satisfied customers of the breeder. Cat Fanciers guide to finding a good breeder
Which sex should you get?
Male and female cats make equally great companions. Cats’ personalities are not dependent on their gender, and neither is more affectionate, loyal or playful than the other. Select a cat based on its individual personality.
The most important factor is that they are spayed or neutered. Un-neutered males will spray foul urine on the walls, roam and fight with other cats. Females in heat will howl incessantly and will attract male cats to your home, which will result in unwanted kittens, adding once again to the overpopulation problem that fills North America’s shelters with homeless and abandoned pets.
Which Breed is right for you? Each breed of cat has its own special characteristics and needs. Some need more care than others. For a quick guide to personality, size, grooming requirements, activity level, and the breed’s average child-friendly and pet-friendly rating, please see the chart Cat Breed Characteristics