Oh, can you hear them calling at night? They sound like babbling babies, don’t they? It’s obviously kitty time, which consequently means that soon it will be kitten time, too. Shelters will be filled to the brim with stray, unwanted kittens and sometimes their Mums, searching for a home. A good one, at that, so I thought today (it IS Pet Day, after all) would be the perfect time to share a few things you should think about before getting a cat. Because as much as I would love all shelters to empty, I do feel like it’s something none of us should jump into lightly.
It’s A Lifetime Commitment
The reason I’m starting with this is that - in the spur of the moment - looking at that adorable future kitten of yours doesn’t always make you realise it grows up into a beautiful cat real soon AND will be around for quite a while. So, nope, taking one in (say, to cheer up your kid) is not a short-term commitment. It’s a long one. About 15 years on average, actually, if you take good care of your feline friend. So be prepared for that, and be willing to sit it out. The good news? You won’t regret it, I promise.
Forget the whole cats are loners idea, because they are far from any such thing. They benefit immensely from being able to socialise with another cat, and adopting two has a lot of perks for you, too. D’you want three reasons? Here goes.
1) Your cat won’t be bored when you’re gone because he or she has a companion to play with. Ergo less stuff to break out of frustration when you’re not around, ergo less cleaning up the tantrums for you.
2) Other than keeping each other occupied, they also learn valuable skills and life lessons from each other. From hunting to social skills, to respecting boundaries and (for indoor cats) providing the - well - necessary workout by chasing each other.
3) Why save one kitten’s life by giving it a home, when you can save two? It doesn’t take that much more time, energy or money, trust me. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
Oh, I know. I used to dream about having a Maine Coon or British Long-Hair, or …, to share my couch with and showcase on Instagram, too. But scrolling through Facebook and seeing all those strays or unexpected kittens and grown-up cats grow old in a shelter or on the streets? I came off of that cloud real quickly. It’s not that purebred cats are something to be frowned upon, I really want to emphasise that, but the thing is… They will always find a home, whereas kittens and cats in shelters are often not that lucky. Is your love of a certain breed not something to be tampered with? That’s fine. But why not take the previous tip into account and get a shelter companion as well? Just an idea.
Letting Your Cat Outdoors Is Not A Standard Thing (Anymore)
This is a difficult subject for me, since I, myself, am definitely a non-believer when it comes to letting your cat roam outside freely, but I am aware of a lot of counter-arguments. I’ll keep it short here, but there’s a post in the making all about the shoulds and shouldn’ts, so keep your eye out for that. For now, I’ll just say that it’s at least something you should give A LOT OF THOUGHT to before making any decision. How I went about it? By asking myself some questions. Do I like watching that one cat in the park just enjoying herself chasing birds? Yes. It looks like fun. Do I live near busy streets? Yes. Would I sleep knowing my cats are out there doing god knows what, roaming said busy streets? Nope. Would I forgive myself if my cats got into an accident or caught a disease? Never. Are all people in the neighbourhood cat-friendly? Probably not. Are my cats well-behaved and will they never destroy someone else’s property or be a nuisance to strangers? Haha, good one.
So there, decision easily made. One more thing, though. If you should decide to let your cat go out in a safe space: chip it. That’s a 100% obligation, peeps.
Extra Chore Time
Fact number one: cats do indeed require less taking care of in comparison with dogs. So, yes, they are the so-called easier pet. But. That doesn’t mean you should just go about your life as you used to and ignore your new friend when it’s not cuddle time. Which brings me to fact number two: they DO need playtime. Yes, even older cats. As much as you can give them. Because the more you’ll give, the more trust, affection and love you’ll get. In addition to that, there’s the other, more cliché, chores that come along with adopting one or two cats. Like cleaning the litter boxes (remove icky stuff every day, clean - preferably - once a week), buying (good) food and feeding them (try and keep to a schedule), keeping the water bowls around the house filled up, making sure they are healthy and provide the necessary vaccinations, brushing the cat (especially long-haired ones and during shedding season), etc. etc.
Mind the Cat
Cats have great natural instincts, but - er - that doesn’t mean all of them are clever about everything. There’s a lot of human food that’s dangerous to cats, for example, as well as a bunch of (read: many) well-loved houseplants. A bit of research beforehand won’t hurt, in other words, and plants should always be given the google check-up before you give them a place in your home OR even before you take them in. Besides that, it’s best to cat-proof your place in general. But you shouldn’t worry, really, lots of tips on that can be found all around the internet. Perhaps even on here soon! ;)
The Cat Budget
Cats are not cheap, or at least not if you want to take care of them properly. Combine this paragraph with the very first one (15 years of cat ahead of you, yay!) and - well - you do the math. That being said, there are A LOT OF ways to be clever about the whole thing and find cheaper substitutes for the expensive, A-level goods (that aren’t necessarily the best, anyway). For example: filling the litter box. Instead of buying perfumed (cats could be allergic, they tend not to mention that), top o’ the bill, latest formula ‘so easy to clean, ya’ll!’ litter box filling, I use wood pellets. Three times as cheap, easy to clean, lasts a lot longer because you can easily filter out the ones that can still be used while cleaning the box, and my cats love it. Also, toys. You all know it’s not really necessary to buy them lots of things because they’ll prefer a simple string anyway, right? That’s just… Cliché cat, right there.
What you shouldn’t save on, however, is veterinary needs (vaccinations, de-worming, a regular check-up, aka: the works) and food. That is, if you don’t want those doctor costs to be higher than necessary OR make the litter box clean-up messier than it should be.
Conclusion: It WILL Change Your Life
That’s obvious by now, isn’t it? Your free days will be filled with a couple of extra chores to take care of. Putting that pretty vase on that pretty shelf WILL be ‘just asking for it’. Little disgusting accidents will happen. You will be woken up by a paw in your face well before your alarm goes off. Not really that bad a thing but: chances are you will become a much homier person than before, because they’re just too darn cute to leave the house for. Goodbye, excessive social life!
On the other hand, when you do your job right: you will be followed around everywhere and showered with spontaneous nudges and nose bumps. You will fall asleep every night to that wonderful purring sound. Solo movie nights at home will never have been better because cat cuddles truly are the best. Not to mention you will no longer have to count on Youtube to provide all those funny videos, when you have your own little providers right there with you. Cat lady Nelle out.
Q || What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned after adopting a cat?
Love, always, and good luck adopting if that’s in your future!