Choosing a cat for the first time is a truly wonderful experience. Sometimes it’s easy; your future pet may even “choose” you. Maybe she’s a stray who shows up on your doorstep, or a kitten you find all alone in your yard. Perhaps his welcoming paw reaches out through cage bars as you wander the local animal rescue. In a single moment, your life changes for the better –you’ve found your perfect furry friend. Picking a feline companion on your own may not be as easy, but it’s just as much fun. Just ask yourself the following questions when making your selection:
Do you want to buy your cat from a breeder, a pet store, or adopt from a rescue?
If you have your heart set on a particular breed, you will most likely need to purchase your new pet directly from a breeder or at a pet store. If you do not have a preference regarding breed, you’ll have more options for acquiring the right cat. Some pet stores may sell non-pedigree felines and host adoption drives for rescue cats. Your local humane society and animal rescue groups will also have numerous cats available –even kittens, especially this time of year.
Do you want a kitten or an adult cat?
How much time can you spend with your new pet? Kittens are significantly more demanding than most adult cats. Full of frantic energy, a kitten may keep you up at night and get into “trouble” an adult cat wouldn’t dream of. Depending on the age of your kitten, it may also need some litter box training. If you’re away from home all day, you may need to secure your new kitten in a safe place, like the bathroom. An adult cat can generally wander the house safely –and may spend much of the day sleeping.
Do you want a male or a female cat?
If you plan to bring your new pet home already spayed or neutered, this is really a matter of personal preference. If you are adopting or purchasing a kitten that is still unaltered, but commit to spaying or neutering as early as your vet recommends, it is still personal preference. If, for some reason, you intend to keep your new cat unaltered, keep in mind that male cats will spray urine to mark territory and female cats will go into heat several times a year.
Do you want one cat or two?
If your house is adequate in size and you have room for three litter boxes, two cats can be a whole lot of fun. Their crazy antics will keep you laughing, and they will even keep each other company when you’re away from home. Of course, you will have to spend twice as much on food, litter and veterinary care as you would for one. If you live in a small apartment and don’t want to scoop multiple litter boxes, or are on a tight budget, one cat may be the ideal number for you.
How about purrr-sonality?
If you meet several cats you like equally well, you will have to make a tough choice –and it may come down to personality. Ask the breeder or rescue staff what they’ve noticed about each cat. If at all possible, spend some time interacting with each potential pet alone. If you really want a lap cat, don’t choose the ball of energy. If you want an independent pet, don’t select the cat everyone refers to as “needy.”
Is the cat healthy?
You may wish to avoid choosing a cat that is sneezing, or has runny eyes or a runny nose, as these are common signs that a cat is unhealthy. While it may just be seasonal allergies, it could be something more serious like Feline Herpesvirus, Feline Calcivirus or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). If you fall in love with a cat that is showing signs of illness, take him or her to the veterinarian as soon as possible for a diagnosis.
Ask any cat owner and they’ll tell you the same thing: cats are fantastic pets and ideal roommates. Choose your new cat wisely and she (or he) will even become an integral part of your family –and a furry friend for life.
Did you recently get a new cat? Tell us about it in the comments!