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First Time Cat Owner Guide - Are You Ready for Cat Parenthood?

by Erin Platt May 01, 2016 0 Comments

First Time Cat Owner Guide - Are You Ready for Cat Parenthood?

She's it! She's the one! You’ve been searching for so long, and you’re more than ready to bring your soulmate home. She is absolutely stunning. Gorgeous white hair. Piercing green eyes. And a vibrating purr that shakes your whole body when she’s cuddling in your lap. Your cat is beautiful.

Now it's time to look at logistics. Are you sure you’re ready to be a cat parent? There ain’t no turning back, as all of our country-singing heroes like to say. You’ve got some major decisions to make. Here’s a quick list to help you decide if your home is cat-ready:


The Financial Strain of Cat Ownership

A baby of any kind is going to cost you money. A kitten is no different. Not only do you have to outfit Killer with some killer toys, cat perches, scratching posts, and a litter box, you also have medical bills and a new mouth to feed. That takes some serious moolah. Neutering can cost upwards of $100. And that doesn’t touch the cost of vaccinations. The first twenty weeks of necessary shots can cost around $300. Add that to the weekly food bill, and having a furry new family member is definitely a costly venture.

Please don’t get me wrong here. I think all people should have a cat as part of the family. I just think diving in to cat parenthood half-cocked is one of the main reasons so many cats live outside or in shelters. As my parents always used to assure me, I’m setting you up for success!

So let's backtrack a little. We already figured out that medically speaking, Killer costs around $400 dollars in the first year of his life. Average cost of cat food and litter is around $30 a month. Finally, those awesome kitty amenities that you couldn’t live without…you, my friend, are up to about $1000 for the first year. In my humble opinion (spelled IMHO by kids these days, or so I’m told), cats are well worth the expense. But that’s something you and your family have to decide BEFORE bringing Killer home.


Time Constraints of Owning a Cat

Take Lucy. She's an adorable Burmese kitty your neighbor brought home last year. She’s playful and loves to cuddle.

Now take Rascal. He’s a gorgeous Persian that your sister-in-law has had for years. You dread going to visit their house since Rascal tends to leave messes and tear into furniture and people alike.

The main difference? Your neighbor takes twenty minutes to an hour every day to play with Lucy. Your sister-in-law, bless her heart, is a full-time, successful business woman with four kids.

Rascal doesn’t get the attention he needs, so he seeks it out through other means.

Honestly ask yourself: “Can I devote at least 2 twenty minute play sessions every day with my new fur baby?” If the answer is no, then it doesn’t matter how prepared you are, it might not be a good fit for you and kitty. Cats may pretend that they don’t need attention, but the fact of the matter is, everyone needs a little love! And cats are no exception.


What cat breed is right for you?

This is a big enough topic that next week’s article will go into more detail. For those impatient cat lovers, here’s a quick sneak-peek into the crazy world of cat breeds:

Let’s talk categories. There are the regal queens, the playful kitties, the hunters, the snugglers, and the mischievous fur balls. If you’re looking for the stately, dignified companion, I’d look at Birmans, Persians, or Russian Blues. While still playful when around their humans, these three breeds are the courtly versions of their flirty, energetic feline cousins.

Who doesn’t enjoy some serious playtime? Two-legged and four-legged beasts alike love a little down time with toys and games. Your kids will love the fun-loving American Wirehairs, Javanese, and Maine Coons. Just make sure you have enough actual toys that they don’t feel the need to adopt other toys that are probably a little more expensive…

If you’re like me, you want a cat that reflects your sassy personality. Playful, goofy breeds include the mischievous British Shorthairs, Cymrics, and Havana Browns and are known for being able to learn tricks and, if you don’t give them enough attention, can get very creative with their free time. These beauties are super-pet friendly and can get along with most other fur babies, feline or otherwise.

Crazy cat ladies on down to the new kitten parents love a good snuggle-buddy. Rainy afternoons curled up with a good book  (or a solid Netflix marathon if we’re being honest with each other), only get better if your lap is vibrating from a content ball of silky fur buried snugly on your lap. Devon Rex cats, though often compared to pixies or aliens, crave human contact and make amazing cuddle friends. Exotic Shorthairs and American Curls are also amazing nuzzlers and love downtime with their favorite humans.


Patience Cat Lover... You’re Going to Need It

Scratched leather chairs. Poop in exotic places throughout the house. A vibrating pillow that likes to kick you in the stomach while you're asleep. Incessant meowing. Yes, there are snuggles, playtime, and adorable petting and purring moments. But there are also hair balls, hissing, and destroyed carpets.

You’re a parent. You have to have some serious patience to be able to take on caring for Penny, no matter how old she is when you bring her home. You have to feed her every day. Clean her litter box every day. And, depending on her breed, vacuum the crazy amount of hair out of your kitchen and living room, you guessed it, every day. The vacuuming one is more of an option, but the longer you let it build up, the worse it will be at cleaning time.

You also have to devote time to grooming appointments, vet appointments, and if you finally get to fly cross-country to see your best friend from high school, Penny either has to come with you or you have to find a pet-sitter. It’s a full-time commitment. A fun one if you do it right, but Penny is your friend, your buddy, and also your responsibility. If you don’t have the patience to get through the torn furniture coverings and litter box messes, it might be a good idea to wait awhile before adopting.


Okay, you’ve stuck it out this far. I have high hopes for all you perspective cat parents out there. These are just the beginning of the decisions and challenges you’ll face on your adventures with Simba, the Persian love of your life. He’ll be playful at times, cranky at times, territorial and temperamental. But he’ll be fiercely loyal, so be loyal to him. Decide early if he’s going to be an indoor or outdoor cat. Learn patience. Those of you with two-legged children know already that babies of every kind will try your last nerve. Just like with human kids, I’d certainly like to hope anyway, you can’t just toss them out or take them to a shelter if they start to drive you crazy. So get your head in gear, plan out the finances, do a little nesting with toys and scratching posts, and be ready for some serious furry fun.


We've all been first time kitty owners. So.. What other tips do you have to share?

Erin Platt
Erin Platt

Erin has 6 years experience working directly with Cats in a Chicago based VET. Since 2014, Erin has also contributed to various pet magazines including AGE, NY times and LA weekly writing pet related articles. Her focus is mainly of health issues, pet food and housing.

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