There are many things to consider when getting a cat.
Here are International Cat Care’s top tips on things to think about.
For more detailed information, see: https://icatcare.org/advice/getting-cat/thinking-getting-cat.
Understanding a cat’s needS
Before getting a cat it is vital that you consider whether you can provide all the care that a cat needs. To care for a cat you will need to:
Provide plenty of human companionship
Provide regular, suitable meals with a constant supply of fresh water
Provide a clean and comfortable bed
Provide the cat with outdoor access, or be prepared to provide plenty of indoor environmental enrichment and empty and clean a litter tray on a daily basis
Provide it with a stimulating and safe environment
Groom it regularly – longhaired cats require daily grooming
Have it neutered between 4 and 6 months of age
Vaccinate against the major feline diseases regularly
Worm regularly and provide treatment for fleas
Take the cat to the vet when it shows any sign of illness
Insure your cat or make sure you can afford the cost of any veterinary treatment it may need
It is also important to understand a cat’s behaviour, which determines their needs and influences how you should (and should not) interact with your cat. A cat’s behaviour is linked to their evolutionary history: they remain very similar to their ancestor the North African wildcat, a solitary, territorial hunter. To help you understand cat behaviour, go to: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-behaviour, and to read more about the origin of cats, see: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-care/origins-cats.
Do you already have cats?
It is very difficult to predict whether an existing pet cat will accept a new cat in their territory; however, this should be given careful consideration, before making the final decision as to whether to get another cat or kitten. For further information, see: https://icatcare.org/advice/general-care/getting-cat/your-current-cats-likely-accept-another-cat.
Should you get a cat or a kitten?
A kitten gives you the opportunity to give a cat the best start in life and watch it grow into an adult. However, kittens require a lot of attention. If you leave them alone, you have to make sure they will be safe. You may also have to organise neutering and initial vaccinations. With adult cats, you should be able to get a good idea of a cat’s personality before taking it on, and it will generally be much less hard work and worry than a kitten. An adult cat will probably already be neutered and vaccinated.
Where to get a cat or kitten
There are a variety of ways to get a pet cat or kitten: from a homing centre, a friend or neighbour, an advert on a website or magazine/newspaper, a breeder or a pet shop.
The environment from which you get your cat, its experiences and the care it received there can have a lasting effect on its health and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to know what to look for and what to ask, and you should be prepared to walk away if you are not happy with what you see or with the answers to your questions, rather than take a cat which will not be healthy or happy in your particular home. For more information, see https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-care/where-get-your-cat-or-kitten. For advice on the questions you should ask when choosing a kitten, see: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-care/choosing-kitten. For what to look for when choosing an adult cat, see: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-care/choosing-adult-cat.
Things to consider with pedigree cats
Most cats kept as pets are Domestic Shorthairs, also known as ‘moggies’ – these are ‘non-pedigree’ cats. However, there are also many different breeds of pedigree cats which have been bred specifically to look a certain way. Some of these breeds will require extra care and attention, for example if they have a very long coat. Unfortunately, some breeds are associated with serious health problems as a result of how they have been bred. Modern Persians and Exotic Shorthairs, for example, experience a number of problems such as difficulty breathing and eating. As such, they are condemned to a lifetime of suffering simply to achieve a certain look. International Cat Care has detailed information on different breeds and any associated health issues; see their ‘A to Z’ of cat breeds: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-breeds.