Thinking about getting a cat?

Buddy (photographer Susan Papazian)

So you’re thinking of getting a cat.  It’s hard to resist a cute kitten for sale or in need.  Before you take on a furry friend, are you ready to give a cat a good life for its entire lifetime?

The decision to get a kitten or an adult cat should involve your head as well as your heart.  While you want a cat that meets your needs, can you meet the cat’s needs?

There are so many things to consider before getting a cat.

What do you want from your relationship with a cat

Consider the personality of the kitten or adult cat. If you’re the kind of person who really needs to have a close relationship with your cat and to be able to handle it and have it interact with you, then you’ll be disappointed if you take on a nervous cat that hides every time you come into the room.

Do you have a spare $10,000 to look after a cat over her lifetime? 

Do you have a clear, solid financial plan to look after your pet?  The purchase of your cat from a shelter or a kitten from a responsible breeder is the smallest cost you will need to pay.

Below are the approximate costs to look after a cat.  This is a guide only.  Source: RSPCA NSW

Initial costs for the first yearPurchase of kitten or cat, vaccinations, micro-chipping, registration, de-sexing, accessories (bedding, collar & bell, tray and litter, scratching pole, food and water bowls, and toys)Up to $2,545 depending the purchase price of the kitten from a breeder or from a shelter and council registration fees
Ongoing yearly costsWorm/flea treatment, Food, treats, grooming and yearly vaccinations and check up$720 minimum each year

Bewareunforeseen major veterinary treatment to treat diseases or emergencies is an extra cost!  If you do not have pet insurance then you will need to ensure that you have enough funds set aside for veterinary care.

Do you have the time to care for a cat properly?  Do you travel frequently?

As pets go, cats are relatively low maintenance compared to dogs. However, like any pet, they do need care, and some cats need more care than others.  Cats need suitable meals, fresh supply of water, and a clean litter tray on a daily basis as well as a clean and comfortable bed.  Long-haired cats also need daily grooming.

Can you provide a safe and stimulating indoor environment?

You will need to provide a stimulating indoor environment to allow your cat to express its natural behaviours of scratching, playing and hunting.  While you won’t have to put up with daily hunt offerings if your cat is kept indoors, you must balance that against the natural behaviours which your cat has missed out on and the need to provide an alternative opportunity for the expression of hunting behaviours.   Much will depend on the personality of the individual cat. (Source: International Cat Care). Cat owner Lyndall Jones shares her experience and tips about apartment living with cats.

Can you provide at least 30 minutes a day of play time for your cat? 

According to the Cat Protection Society, cats of all ages require at least 30 minutes or two sessions of 15 minutes a day of play time with you.

Are you willing to give lots of attention to a kitten? 

 A kitten gives you the opportunity to take on an animal right from the beginning and care for it so that it gets the best start in life. However, kittens require a lot of attention and some forethought to prevent them getting into trouble. If you leave them alone you have to make sure they will be safe while you are away. (Source: International Cat Care)

Should you add another cat to your household?

Cat society is a delicate balance of solitude and sociability. You need to think about how another cat will impact on a multi-cat household.  Sharing litters can cause stress.  According to the MSPCA, when you confine several cats to a small space, some may feel that others have invaded their territory.

Should you take on two cats at the same time?

Consider getting two kittens from the same litter or adopting two cats together that are known to get along.  Your cats will never be lonely and always have a playmate.

Thinking of getting a cat?

Bella and Fluffy. Photo: Christie Jarrett

Do you have a support plan if your circumstances change?

In the event of the arrival of a baby, moving house or overseas, your illness, divorce or death, your pet will need consistent, loving care.  Will your cat be able to depend on you now and in the future?