Knowing if you're ready for a cat is part of responsible cat ownershipHave you been thinking about adopting a cat, but you’re not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge? There are plenty of things to consider, and Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital has a few ideas to get you started.

Are You Ready for a Cat?

Cats are wonderful, unique, and mysterious at times, but one thing’s for sure – once you adopt a cat, you’re in it for the long haul. Cats can live for a long time, so it’s great that you’re giving the idea serious thought. Here are some important prerequisites when it comes to owning a cat.

You’re ready to accept litter box duty. Okay, this isn’t the prettiest place to begin, and let’s be real: no one actually likes cleaning the box. However, it’s necessary, and cleaning it every day will make your cat much happier (and minimize smells). Have your tools on hand (litter, bags, and scoop), and remember that you need one litter box per cat plus one if you add more than one cat to your household.

You recognize that cats aren’t small dogs. Cats sometimes get a bad rap as antisocial, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Spending time socializing your cat can help them be more welcoming when people visit your home, instead of hiding under the bed.

Socialize your new kitty by gradually exposing them to new people, places, animals, and experiences. There’s even a kitten kindergarten to introduce kittens to new concepts and behaviors.

Socialization can also help your cat accept changes more easily and strengthen the bond between you. Recognizing the importance of socialization and knowing how to raise a confident kitty shows that you may be ready for a cat.

You’re financially prepared. It’s not possible to estimate the costs of cat ownership over the lifetime of your cat, but remember – cats can live into their early 20’s. Some of the items you’ll need to keep your pet happy and healthy include:

  • A high-quality diet
  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter boxes
  • Collar, tags, and microchipping ID
  • Scratching posts
  • Beds/resting spots
  • Cat carrier
  • Environmental enrichment (toys, cat tree, perches, etc.)
  • Veterinary care

Of course, that last item on the list is a pretty big deal. Studies show that most cats don’t get the veterinary care they require. All pets should have a wellness exam at least once a year (senior pets and those with health issues should be seen more often).

When you add in parasite prevention, vaccinations, and annual dental care, you’re looking at a financial commitment that should be carefully considered before adopting a cat. Make sure you budget for regular preventive care, as well as keep an emergency fund for unexpected injuries or illness. You may want to include pet insurance in your budget, as well. Once you’ve considered all these costs, you may be ready for a cat.

You’re ready to create a cat friendly home. Cats have certain basic needs, but it’s also fun to enrich their environment by adding items that cater to their natural tendencies – such as climbing, jumping, and “hunting.” While this definitely makes for great entertainment for you, it also adds to your cat’s happiness. Here are some ideas for enrichment:

  • Vertical space (wall perches and hide outs)
  • Create a catio
  • Hide food on different levels to elicit “hunting”
  • Food puzzles
  • Toys and games

You have the time to spend with your cat. Perhaps the most important question to ask when considering if you’re ready for a cat is whether you have the time to devote to a pet. Studies show that cats thrive on human interaction, even valuing it over food. Your bond with your cat will last a lifetime, and although cats can be independent, even 15 minutes of petting and playtime each day can make all the difference.

We hope these tips have been helpful as you consider whether or not you’re ready for a cat. If you’re a current cat owner and think we missed something, please let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you!