Things to Consider
Acquiring a cat is a big commitment of time and resources. Cats come in many shapes and sizes, with widely diverse temperaments, personalities and needs. Once you’ve decided to bring a feline into your life, the next step is to find the right cat. Take time to identify the traits and characteristics that will fit best with your household and lifestyle. Consider the other people and animals in your family, as well as your living environment, so that you can find the best feline friend possible.
Do Some Research
Rarely is the best choice made spontaneously at a shelter or pet store. A good place to start is by researching the different breeds of domestic cats. The internet, purebred cat registries and breed clubs are wonderful resources for descriptions of cat breed types and temperaments. The Parent Club for each breed usually has its own website, which often has breeder referrals organized by state. Most responsible breeders will welcome emails, calls and questions. Once you narrow down the breed or breeds of interest, you will be in a better position to move forward with your search, whether for a purebred or a mixed-breed companion.
It can be tough to predict what an animal’s personality will really be like, and whether or not it will fit into your lifestyle. The individual cat’s behavior at the first meeting can be used as a guideline. It’s important to spend time with any cat before deciding to bring it home. Take time to pet and hold it, play with it and see how it interacts with people. Is it playful? Is it overly shy or annoyingly pushy? Does it like to be handled and held? Does it seem secure or timid? Most cats need time to get used to new people and situations. If you can, discuss the particular animal’s temperament with its breeder.
Cats that come right up to you, purr and want to be held or petted will generally continue to be sociable, cuddly companions in their new homes. Cats that are uninterested in people may not be especially social early-on, but they may warm up once they settle into their new homes. Cats that are overly pushy may become dominant or aggressive. Cats that are extremely fearful and distrustful will need a lot of special attention, patience and gentleness to bond deeply with their new owners. If you are looking for an immediate warm and fuzzy relationship with your new cat, adopt one that is friendly and open when you first meet it. If you are fond of a particular cat but it seems aloof, consider taking a chance on it anyway. With a bit of time, kindness and love, that animal may become your closest friend. If you don’t have a lot of time and patience, or if your household is busy, noisy and filled with children or other pets, you probably shouldn’t get a cat that is afraid of people and other animals.
Think about your household living environment, including your yard. Will you let your cat outside? If you rent, does your lease permit indoor pets? Are there other animals in the household? If so, how will you introduce the new cat to the existing cats or dogs? Some dogs have an inherently high prey drive and may not be well-suited to households with cats. Are any of your human family members allergic to cats? Does the area where you live have problems with fleas, ticks or other external or internal parasites? Do you travel frequently? If so, how will you care for your cat when you are out of town?
Do you have the financial resources to care for a cat for the next 10 to 20 years? This requires more than simply providing food, water and shelter. Can you pay steep veterinary bills if your pet has a medical emergency or requires long-term medical attention? Purebred cats from reputable breeders can cost $1,000 or more. Animal shelters and rescues usually charge adoption fees as well.
Once you have reflected on these issues, you should be in good shape to find a cat that will fit well with you and your family. Remember, adopting a cat is not a short-term decision. Many cats live well into their late teenage years, and prospective owners should make sure they are committed to their companions for the long haul.
Households that have other companion animals, and/or children, have special needs when bringing in a new pet. If the children and other pets are young, the best choice may be to adopt a kitten or adolescent cat. If the kids or other animals are older, adopting a more mature cat should work out just as well as getting a kitten.