Tuesday, November 17, 2009 2:43 PM

Is a Cat the Right Pet for You?

If you already have cats, then you know the answer to this question. But what if you are just now considering getting a pet, and aren't sure whether a cat is the right choice? Here are some things to consider before making that very important decision to share your life with a cat.

You want a pet with an independent streak. Cats, though very lovable, are different from dogs in that they don't require constant attention. Although they love being with you, they don't feel the need to "check" on you constantly, and don't always need to be assured of your love. They know you love them--they're cats!

You are willing to spay/neuter your cat. Even indoor cats need to be spayed and neutered. If you don't, they will drive themselves and you crazy with their natural urge to procreate. Also, if there are a mix of males and females in the house, there will be kittens. Cats that have been "fixed" are also much less apt to try to get outdoors in order to answer the "call of the wild".

You have decided to make your cat an indoor pet. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives. If you pay lots of attention to them and keep them active with playthings such as paper grocery sacks, wads of paper, etc. they will get plenty of exercise and won't even miss going out. Owning an indoor cat is much less stressful for you, as well. You won't have to worry about them getting in fights, being chased by dogs, getting hit by cars, getting fleas and other parasites or being carried off by wild animals. Plus, their fur stays clean and soft!

You don't mind putting up with cat hair everywhere. This is a fact of life when you have cats around. Feeding a premium or homemade diet and grooming your cat will keep shedding to a minimum. Get a good vacuum, and keep a supply of lint brushes around. This should keep things under control.

You don't have expensive furnishings or are willing to keep them covered if you do. Keeping your cat's claws trimmed will help with destructive clawing of furnishings, as will giving them alternatives such as scratching posts to use. Our cats use the berber carpeting as well as hardwood posts down cellar, but they still scratch inappropriately once in a while. There's no avoiding this altogether if you have cats. And, please, do not consider declawing; it is very cruel. Just remember that dogs (and children!) can also ruin things around the house. Houses are for living in, after all.

The sound of a cat purring is music to your ears. Believe me, there is nothing like a soft, purring cat keeping your lap warm. Nothing works better to make the cares and stresses of the day lift from your shoulders. Plus, research shows that petting a cat lowers your blood pressure and cortisol levels without side effects!

If you agree with the above statements, then you've probably decided that a cat is in your future. Now, the question is: One cat, or two? We'll explore that topic tomorrow, so tune in.
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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