Reprinted with permission from Missy Zane, How to Live with Cats. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced elsewhere in any form. Copyright March 7, 2016.
You’ve been thinking about it for ages, and now you’re finally ready. You want to adopt a cat. But while adopting a cat should be fun, it’s also a long-term commitment. Cats form strong bonds with their family members, and rehoming a cat is always painful and sad. To avoid heartbreak for you and the cat, try to answer these questions honestly before bringing that new family member home. They’re written through the eyes of a rescuer who has had the joy of placing hundreds of cats in new homes and the sadness of trying to help even more “owner give-ups” avoid going to shelters.
1. Are you prepared to make a long-term commitment? Did you know the average lifespan of a cat is 16 years, and many live even longer?
2. Does everyone in your family want a cat? If not, it would be best to enjoy the company of cats as a volunteer for a rescue or shelter. The cat’s not going to be happy living with someone who hates her!
3. What will you do if you fall head over heels in love with someone who doesn’t like cats or is allergic to them? Give this one serious thought. If “give up the cat” pops into your head, it would be better to foster than adopt.
4. What will you do if you have to move? Cats can be good travelers and can adjust to a new home as long as their people are there, too. If you’d leave the cat behind, adoption is probably not for you. This is especially true of military families facing frequent overseas deployments. If you think you might be stationed someplace where you can’t have your cat, consider fostering instead of adopting.
5. Can you afford a cat? To be healthy, a cat needs wet food as well as, or instead of, dry. And in addition to food, the cat will need medical care, especially as s/he gets older. There’s nothing sadder than having to “put a cat to sleep” because there’s no money for medical care. Investing in pet insurance or setting up a separate savings account for veterinary care could save your cat’s life someday.
6. Are your furniture and carpeting right up there at the top of your list of things you care about most? It’s natural for a cat to scratch and accidents happen, especially as a cat ages. Are you willing to think of scratching pads and tall, stable scratching posts as essential pieces of furniture? Will you be able to be patient and seek solutions to litter box issues if your cat suddenly stops using his box? These questions deserve serious thought, too.
7. Do you have time for a cat? While it’s true that cats are “solitary hunters” and self-sufficient enough to keep themselves happily occupied for long stretches of time, they also enjoy human companionship. Will you have time every day to pet a cat and play and brush? Cats are creatures of habit and love predictable schedules and routines. Does your lifestyle allow enough flexibility to create a routine with a cat?
A cat will be as much a part of your family as your partner and kids are and will deserve as much of a commitment of time, energy and love. Before you adopt a cat, think about whether you are willing and able to make that commitment now and for many years to come.
Missy Zane’s journey within into the heart and mind of cats began more than 20 years ago when she discovered 16 beautiful feral kittens living in a parking lot. According to Missy, the purpose of her website is to serve as s a “how to” guide for those of us who live with cats. The articles aren’t just based on research and study, but also on what she has learned from the cats themselves after years of living with them, working with them, and rescuing them.