Pet care

9 Important Topics to Discuss Before Getting a Cat

9 Important Topics to Discuss Before Getting a Cat

To raise a happy and healthy cat, you need a great plan. The best ones include communicating with everyone in your family about the basic expectations you have of your cat, the goals you hope to achieve, and the strategies you're willing to use to accomplish them. In short, you need to talk honestly and openly about what to expect from your cat and how you are going to care for them - BEFORE you get your cat.

Having a cat is a lifetime commitment. That's why it is important to understand what's really involved with having one before you make the choice to adopt or buy one. Take a few minutes to consider what you want from your new cat and how you are going to introduce the cat in your home.

Thinking about the following points can really make the process of getting a cat and helping them transition into their new home a successful and happy one.

  1. Do you know what to expect from your desired cat breed in terms of energy levels, behavior, temperament, and health needs? Some cats have long hair that requires more care than short haired cats. Others have distinct needs linked to their breeds; for example, Siamese cats tend to be talkative, and Sphynx cats require regular baths and ear cleaning. Remember that, in addition, every cat has a slightly different personality.
  2. If you expect to place limits on your cat's behavior (as most people do), you will need to invest time in training your cat. What rules will you enforce in your home?

    • Where do you want your cat to sleep (cat bed, child's room, your bed)?
    • Where do you want it to eat (kitchen, laundry room, another room)?
    • Will you feed them table scraps?
    • Will you tolerate begging? (This answer should be consistent across the family.)
    • Do you want to be able to trim your own cat's nails or brush their teeth?
    • How will you respond to inappropriate scratching, biting, or jumping up on counters?
  • Is your cat going to be indoors, outdoors, or both? It's very important to carefully weigh the benefits and risks related to this choice.
  • Understand the importance of consistency in training and rules. If one person in your family discourages bad behavior and another rewards it, your cat can easily become confused. For example, if one family member ignores the cat when they are up on the counter and another screams and yells, the inconsistent reaction can prove problematic for your cat.
  • What is the punishment for bad behavior? Hitting or yelling at your cat is not only traumatic; it can also lead to retaliatory behavior. One effective and humane way to correct bad behavior is to simply withdraw your attention when your cat behaves in an undesirable way.
  • What and when will your cat eat? Who is responsible for purchasing the food and feeding the cat?
  • Don't forget to think about treats, including how many, what kind, and when your cat will get them. Again, it is very important for everyone in the family to stay consistent.
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  • Who is taking care of the litter box? A properly maintained litter box is a crucial part of a cat's daily life, the neglect of which can result in a number of problems including inappropriate urination and bladder infections. Decide who will care for the cat's litterbox, how often will you scoop and change out the litter, and where the litter boxes will be placed. Remember that cats greatly benefit from having at least two litter boxes in their home (more for large homes or those with more than one cat). What litter will you use, and who's paying for it? It is very important to be consistent in what litter you use and other litter box placement issues. To learn more go to The Fine Art of Litter Box Care.
  • Can you afford a cat? To that end, do you know how much having a kitten costs? Really think about this; kittens are expensive and veterinarians constantly see sick pets and well-intentioned owners that can't afford to treat the problem. Consider the cost of not just food and toys but also routine healthcare and any boarding costs, as well as an emergency fund for treating injuries and illnesses. If medical costs are a potential concern, pet insurance is a great option for owners that want the best for their kitten but are on a budget.
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