9 things to know before getting a cat

Dec 6, 2021
Ragdoll cat with blue eyes.
Ragdoll cat with blue eyes.

9 things to know before getting a cat

Dec 6, 2021

So, you’ve decided you’re interested in adding a cat to your family. Great choice! There’s a reason these small felines are so popular: they just make great pets. That being said, like all animals, they do require care, time and resources. Are you willing to provide your cat with what it needs to thrive?

Let’s go into 9 things to know before getting a cat!

1. Lifespan

Cats are generally longer lived than dogs, so adding one to your family is a very long-term commitment if you go for a kitten. According to AnAge, the maximum longevity of a cat is around 30 years.

It’s not uncommon for a cat to be around for 15+ years and even into its 20s. That’s 15 years of having to make sure your life can accommodate your furry friend to prevent having to put it up for adoption at a later stage.

2. Research

We cannot emphasize this enough: you need to do research both before and after you get a pet. While this article gives you some starting points, it’s far from a complete guide to cat care! There are many misconceptions out there about our feline friends, so don’t rely just on common knowledge.

On that same note, don’t believe everything you read or hear. Even qualified veterinarians can be wrong. Check articles’ sources and verify any information you’re unsure about.

9 things to know before getting a cat

3. Expenses

According to the ASPCA, in the US, it costs more than $1000 a year to own a cat responsibly. Do you have this kind of money? Do you have the means to set aside that amount or more for an emergency vet fund? If the answer is no, you might want to hold off on getting a cat until your situation changes.

A few of the recurring items and treatments you’ll need for your cat include, but are not limited to:

  • Food. You can’t get away with just feeding your cat cheap supermarket kibble if you want it to stay happy and healthy. They do better on wet food and if you do include kibble, it should be high-quality.
  • Litter. It should be as dust-free as possible to prevent lung problems in your cat.
  • Toys. And lots of ‘em, too. You can go the budget and DIY route on this, but it’ll never be completely free.
  • Scratching. Whether it’s a scratching post or a full tower, your cat needs it to keep its nails healthy. And you need it to keep your furniture healthy!
  • Parasite treatments. Whether it’s fleas, ticks, worms or something else: your cat needs to be protected from unwanted bodily visitors. Most of these treatments are preventative and recurring.

Remember that in the first year, you’ll be spending even more. Expenses like spaying/neutering, vaccinations for kittens and microchipping can add up for beginning cat owners.

4. Time

Money isn’t the only thing you’ll be spending on your furry friend. You also need to calculate time. Cats are sometimes seen as antisocial creatures that do fine on their own, but in reality, the majority craves attention in some form. If you can’t provide that, you might need to look for a more hands-off pet.

Even if your cat isn’t the cuddly type, it still needs mental stimulation. For cats, that means playtime! You’ll have to take multiple moments every day to exercise your cat and give it the opportunity to play with interactive toys.

Then there’s grooming. Cats are great at taking care of their own coat and most don’t need daily brushing, but that doesn’t mean regular grooming isn’t a good idea for bonding purposes.

Ragdoll cat grooming itself in garden.

Cats are good at grooming themselves, but long-haired individuals especially do need regular brushing. This also reduces hairball frequency. 

5. Holidays

Have you thought about what you will do with your cat if you go on holiday? They can be left alone overnight, but not for extended periods of time. Will you be having a cat sitter come around?

You can have a look at our services over here at Kate’s K9 Pet Care to get an idea. We’re happy to keep an eye on your cat for you when you’re out of town!

6. Safe space

If you’d like to own a cat, you’ll have to keep in mind that you need some space. This is because cats require an area to retreat to if they want to be alone. Without this, behavioral issues can pop up.

Can you provide a place like this? A separate room like a bedroom is ideal, particularly with a bed that your furry friend can hide under if it feels overwhelmed.

Orange eyed British shorthair cat on cat tower.

Provide your cat with some spots higher up as well. They like to be able to keep an eye on their environment. 

7. Multiple cats

What if you’d like to own multiple cats, so they can keep each other company while you’re at work for example? It’s possible and has many advantages, but it can also be challenging. These are solitary animals by nature, so it can be difficult for them to adjust to the presence of another cat.

Multiple cats means you’ll need multiple litterboxes (one per cat, plus one extra). You’ll also need multiple quiet spaces available, as well as multiple feeding stations/food bowls, scratching posts etcetera. Even then, your feline friends might not get along all the time!

8. We don’t always understand cats

Interacting with cats is something most people have to learn. They’re so different from humans and dogs that even the most experienced cat owners have trouble understanding them sometimes. Some see cats as evil creatures that lash out for no reason, but when you analyze the situation, it’s almost always possible to identify a cause. Even if said cause doesn’t always make sense to humans!

If you’re having trouble with your cat’s behavior, it can be helpful to consult your vet. There are also great online resources for those ‘why does it do that?’ moments, like Jackson Galaxy’s YouTube channel.

Sleepy tabby cat in the sun.

 Through consulting with a veterinarian, the author’s family discovered that this fluffy number lashes out due to chronic pain issues. You never know what might be going on!

9. Adopting

As mentioned earlier, folks frequently tend to adopt cats without keeping these animals’ needs and lifespan in mind. If you’re looking to add a cat to your family, why not consider adopting?

Reading the above things to know before getting a cat might make you wonder why people choose to adopt a cat if it’s this expensive and so much work. Cats are world’s #1 most popular pet for a reason, though: they’re just absolutely worth it. Between getting a vibrating body warmer, partner in crime, plenty of hilarious moments and the satisfaction of gaining trust, they make great pets.

Photo credit: @cleoandpip & @ragdoll.cat.momo

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