—Feline Behavior Specialist 🇺🇸
Although cats are less of a commitment than dogs, they are still a living thing that will need attention, care, and love to thrive.
Pets come with financial, time, and emotional commitments, so you need to make sure you’re ready and are adopting the right type of cat before it’s a done deal.
But how do you really know if you’re ready? We’ll take a look at everything you should consider before deciding.
Do I have time for a cat?
Sometimes, people say, “I’m never home, so I think a cat is the best choice for me.” There is a giant flaw in this thinking. Just because their basic care (bathroom, food, etc.) doesn’t require a person present, doesn’t mean they don’t have other needs. Indoor cats require companionship, playtime, and attention to be healthy and happy.
Most cats require at least 20 minutes of play a day (Bengals, Savannahs, and other breeds will need more). Remember, they are hunters, so if they were outside, they’d be running to catch prey.
You need to meet this instinctual need and drain their energy. They also need affection in the form of petting and scratching, along with brushing to help them maintain a healthy coat.
Another reason attention is important is it’s an easy way to monitor their health. You may find growths, injuries, scratches, fleas, or something else that needs to be handled.
If indoor cats don’t get enough time with humans, the result can be unappealing behaviors, like spraying, hiding, or aggression, which often results in rehoming or even surrendering to a shelter. This all can be avoided if you’re honest with yourself about your time commitment.
Am I prepared to commit to a cat for about 16 years?
Cats are not a small commitment. They are usually alive for an average of 16 years, and you need to make sure you’re ready to have one for the long-term.
If you really want animal interaction but aren’t sure if you want to commit for that long, a great way to test the waters is to volunteer at a shelter or rescue organization.
Even after volunteering, if you still aren’t sure, you can also foster, which involves caring for an animal for a short period of time. These are excellent ways to help your community and figure out if you’re ready for pet ownership.
Can I afford a cat?
You don’t need to be a millionaire, but cats cost money. You’ll need to account for food and litter, plus a minimum of annual vet visits (additional visits for kittens getting boostered) and a vet trip if they get sick (which is common the first year or two). While this isn’t a large mountain to climb, consider these points:
- Are you saving for a car, home, vacation, furniture, or another large purchase?
- Do you anticipate issues with your employment?
- Is there a big event about to happen in your life? Baby? Marriage? Moving? Starting a business?
The above aren’t reasons to not get a cat, but they are things to think about before committing.
There are also organizations that help low-income homes access cat food; low-cost vet clinics for basic care; and even financial options like Care Credit, which lets you pay your pet’s medical bills over time.
Consider all your options before deciding. You want to avoid being in a situation where you can’t afford an annual vet visit, flea meds, and quality food for your cat.
Do I have the emotional capacity for a cat?
Can you take care of a sick or aging cat? Can you commit to keeping your cat as comfortable as possible for the length of their life?
You need to be an advocate for your cat – they can’t speak up for themselves. Part of having a pet is being aware and taking action if you notice unexplained changes or something wrong with your cat.
You’ll likely need to make some important decisions, especially in the later years of your cat’s life. Make sure you are up for the challenge or have a strong support system that can help you.
Again, if you aren’t sure, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adopt – this is all just food for thought, and these questions are designed to help you make a well-thought-out, informed decision.
So, Are You Ready to Adopt a Cat?
After thinking and answering these questions, are you ready to adopt a cat? All you must do is commit to giving your cat the best life possible – if you can do that, you’re ready to adopt!
Article by Elizabeth Italia 🙋♀️
Cat Behavior & Fostering Specialist