Consider a Cat: How to Tell If a Cat Is Your Ideal Pet

Monday, June 1, 2015

woman holds catCats make perfect friends and roommates for many people. But people tend to view cats through dog-colored glasses.

Just like people, cats are all different from each other — and they aren’t just smaller versions of dogs either.  So let’s bust those myths and look at what living with a cat is really like.


Myth: Cats are aloof, rather than affectionate.

Fact: Think so? Then you aren’t paying attention!

Cats, like everyone I know, demonstrate their affection in their own ways.

Some cats might greet you at the door with enthusiasm and a toy (yes, like a dog, but without the barking). Others love to be scooped up and hugged, while most just don’t. (Who likes being ambushed, anyway?) Many snuggle at every opportunity, purring and head-butting, claiming you as their own. Others aren’t comfortable being held but might be a lap cat (or “lap-adjacent” cat), preferring to chill next to you.

Of course, some cats prefer minimal touching or choose another pet as their priority rather than you. If your ego can handle it, sharing your home with a cat is well worth the effort. There’s nothing like a purring cat, or a secret “cat kiss” (slow eye blinks) from across the room, to help you relax and feel special.


Myth: Cats are independent, easy pets. You have to feed them, and that’s about it.

Fact: They can be easy to live with. But your cat most definitely needs you.

Cats are easygoing roommates. They are pretty quiet around the house and they’ll never hog the bathroom, even though they bathe constantly.

And speaking of grooming, cats groom themselves, which means they swallow hair with every lick. Over time, they develop hairballs in their guts, which can cause digestive issues. Medium- or long-haired cats need a major comb-out weekly — but even short-haired cats should be brushed every week to decrease mats and knots.

Oh, the litter box. Buying, carrying, storing and cleaning cat litter is a big part of living with a cat. Waste must be scooped out of a litter box at least once daily, twice if possible. Dump the whole box every week or 2 (depending on the kind of litter you use and how many cats you have), then scrub it out and refill with fresh litter.

Overnights might be cool, but your friend will need help for longer periods. Some cats will become anxious if left overnight, and others will be fine until morning as long as their basic needs are met. Longer than that, though, and any cat will need someone’s care.


family has two catsMyth: Cats aren’t pack animals, so they don’t need companions.

Fact: Cats are individuals — it depends on the cat. (Sensing a trend here?)

One might prefer to be an only pet, keeping you all for himself. Another might cohabitate most successfully with dogs. A third could bond for life to a cat buddy — sleeping, grooming and playing together.


Myth: Cats are lazy and do nothing but sleep.

Fact: Cats nap, but also enjoy playtime.

Cats do sleep a lot, in quick naps or for hours at a time. They need something to do, both with you and without you. For a house cat, that means naps, usually during the day when you might not be around.

At night, many cats will want to do some zooming after a toy, another pet, a person or a purely imaginary bug. Toys, perches and scratching posts help keep cats mentally and physically healthy. They also give cats a place to work off energy so there’s less activity at night when you’re trying to sleep.


Myth: I have to start with a kitten.

Fact: Get the cat that fits your life stage.

Kittens are one of nature’s most fascinating entertainments. But they’re only that darling for a few weeks, and then they’re teenagers, and then cats. So carefully consider your lifestyle.

If you like quiet evenings at home, consider a cat over 3 years old. The kitten and teenager years are past, but you’ll have many, many years together to come. The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 18–21 years, so a senior cat is a great option for a low-key feline friend.

Heads up: If you do decide to adopt a kitten, you probably want to get 2. They’ll have each other as buddies, and you’ll get a lot more sleep.


So what are you waiting for? Consider a cat! Many adoptable cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and in some cases, microchipped too. By opening your heart to a cat, you’re doing more than gaining a companion — you are saving a life. 


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