5 Important Things To Consider Before Adopting a Cat
Cats are almost universally loved and not even hardened security guards can resist the appeal of a feline friend or two giving them company. The temptation is therefore great to adopt a cat. However, while looking into big kitten eyes can instantly melt your heart, it’s definitely a good idea to stop and consider a few things first before deciding to take a four-legged furball into your home.
The pictures for this article were graciously modeled by Muning the Street Kitten, the moody feline overlord currently living in our condo. We found her on the streets of Makati when she was just a couple of weeks old and this article is largely based on our experiences with her.
5 Important Things To Consider Before Adopting a Cat
1. Make sure you have a budget for it.
Kitty doesn’t really care how much her food and medical bills cost, but you should. Try and set a budget for your new pet before he or she arrives. When Muning was little, she needed special kitten milk and a few visits to the vet to treat an eye infection, all of which quickly added up to a few thousand pesos. You will also need to buy a litter box, a cat carrier, a scratch tree, some toys, an initial batch of wet and dry food plus bowls, possibly a nail clipper and grooming brush, and maybe even some cat shampoo.
If you are saving a street cat with an unknown past, then please take her to the vet as soon as you can. Your biggest cost as far as the vet is concerned will likely be any immediate treatment if needed plus the initial vaccinations and deworming. If not already done, you should also consider having your pet neutered or spayed. All in all, I would suggest a minimum budget of Php5000 before welcoming a new four legged king or queen to your home, but you might need more, depending on your personal circumstances, as well.
2. Make your home cat-proof.
We’ve lost count how many phone chargers, headphones and other things have suddenly stopped working because Madam Muning has chewed through the wires while playing. Investing some time into cat-proofing your home will ensure that you have a lot less hassle (and costs) later on. Cats are naturally inquisitive, so consider taping speaker wires and similar objects down where possible and make sure the priceless Ming Dynasty vase your grandmother gave you isn’t standing where your culturally unaware cat might accidentally knock it over.
If your cat doesn’t take to the scratch tree straight away, try rubbing some catnip onto it to encourage use and to prevent your furniture from taking too much damage. Check that all of the doors and windows are properly closed, as well, and that there’s no way your cat could slip out unexpectedly.
3. Plan for emergencies and holidays.
Even if your cat is an indoor-only pet, consider having it chipped and giving it a collar with a name tag and your contact information on it. All it takes is one open door or window and kitty could be off on a new adventure. The same goes for emergencies where pets can easily get lost in the confusion. Also plan for times when you go away on holidays. If you cannot get a friend or relative to look after your pet, your only other option is a pet hotel, which can cost up to P300 a day. All reputable pet hotels require that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date to avoid the spread of diseases and you need to get this done some time ahead of the planned stay at the Kitty Hilton.
Her blue eyed super model kitten look.
4. Take it slow and establish a routine early on.
Cats take some time to adjust to new surroundings, especially during its first days and weeks in a new home. As such, it’s often best to give your new pet some room to explore and get comfortable first. If your household is a busy one, make sure your cat has a safe space to call her own and retreat to when it all gets too much, such as a room where the kids know not to disturb her. Place her food, litter box and cat basket there if possible, so she knows that she can go there and feel safe if she needs to.
If you do have young kids around, make sure they know in advance how to treat the new arrival and consider establishing a few DOs and DON’Ts to avoid tears later on. Also, try and establish a feeding routine so the cat knows when to expect wet food and when dry food will have to do. Always make sure the cat has access to water.
Yes, that’s a real mouse. No, Muning isn’t very good at hunting.
5. Remember who the owner is.
There’s an old saying along the lines of “When you have a dog, you own the dog. When you have a cat, the cat owns you”, which is based on cats notoriously having their own minds and not really taking well to instructions. If you get a cat, be prepared for her to do whatever she wants, not what you want. The temptation can be great to try and force the cat to do something she doesn’t want to, such as cuddle or play (especially for kids). It’s best to try and avoid this, though, as you could end up with some minor scratches or even deep scratches, bite marks, and a stressed out cat that won’t trust you again in future.
Please also ask yourself if a pet really fits into your lifestyle and surroundings before adopting one. You could always start by providing foster care for a cat (or dog) via programs such as the PAWS Foster Home Program. The old saying that a pet is for life and not just for Christmas really does hold true, after all. Cats can live for up to 20 years or longer. That’s a lot of cat food, scratched furniture and ignored calls of “Here, Kitty, Kitty” to put up with.