The joys of sharing your life with a cat are truly boundless. As a professed and unabashed cat lady, I'll preach this as gospel to the end of times. But that doesn't mean being a cat parent is always a walk in the park. If you're thinking of bringing a cat into your life, it's important to know about the more difficult things about having a cat that might not be totally obvious. Cats get a reputation for being low-maintenance, independent, and overall easy to take care of — and while there may be grains of truth to these stereotypes, it's certainly not always the case. And for your kitty's well-being, you'll need to know the facts.
Properly caring for a cat requires a ton of time, energy, space, and money. It's a big responsibility that no one should take lightly. Some people opt for cats over dogs thinking that it's going to be less work only to find out out that: Surprise! Kitty's need attention and have special issues, too, and there's a lot every first-time cat guardian needs to be aware of if they want to do right by their new feline friend.
If you're considering taking the rewarding (but sometimes challenging!) plunge into cat parenthood, be smart about it and educate yourself on some of the difficult aspects of owning a cat that you might not be aware of now. Your kitty will thank you for it.
Cats Can Get Bored, Too
Cats are known for their independence. And while they may not be pack animals the way dogs are, cats are still social beings who need company and stimulation — and will suffer without it! If you're ready for kitty parent life, consider adopting two of them if you have the means for it — they'll keep each other company while you're out. It's also good to look into items that keep them entertained and soothed while they're alone, like interactive cat toys or music designed to be enjoyed by cats, which can offer some comfort and stimulation.
They Need To Be Groomed
Yes, cats groom themselves constantly and most cats naturally lean toward a lifestyle of cleanliness. But this doesn't mean that they don't require any grooming on your end! Almost all cats, even short-haired ones, need to be brushed regularly with special fur brushes that help to keep their coats looking luxurious. This is for their own health, too, as the more fur you can remove with a brush, the less hair-ball-causing fur they'll be ingesting while they groom themselves. This is especially important for long-haired cats, who can easily end up with matted fur if not cared for properly.
They Can Overheat
Another reason grooming is important (for long-haired kitties especially!) is if you're in a hot climate and your home gets really warm inside. If your kitty's fur is long and thick, you'll want to consider a fur shave or trim at a professional groomer to keep them cool during the summer.
Playtime Is A Must
Cats aren't self-sufficient — they need to be actively played with and entertained, too. Plan to take time out of your day to test-drive new toys with your kitty and give them some good, old-fashioned attention. There are also tons of fun apps made for cats that are endlessly entertaining. If you have to leave your cat home for extended periods, such as the time you're at work, invest in some fun kitty gadgets that are designed to keep them busy and active.
If Your Cat Needs Help, It Might Not Be Obvious
Cats have a lot of fascinating evolutionary instincts, but one of them can make it difficult for humans to identify when they need help. "Cats are known for hiding illness, weakness or pain — especially chronic conditions like dental, kidney and even heart disease," explains Banfield Pet Hospital on its site. "This goes back to their existence in the wild when trying to avoid attracting the attention of would-be predators." That means that symptoms of pain or illness in a cat aren't likely to be obvious to you, and you'll have to educate yourself on what signs to look for and pay attention to even small changes in your kitty's moods or behavior.
Watch Your Plants!
We all love houseplants, but be warned that many kitties like to chew on them. This poses a problem that goes far beyond aesthetics, as some common houseplants can be very dangerous and even lethal if ingested by cats. There are dozens of houseplants that are considered poisonous to cats, and many of them may come as a surprise, so you'll want to avoid them. "Never assume a cat will instinctively not try to eat a poisonous plant," explained Cindy Lawson on PetHelpful. "[A]ll too often cats end up being rushed into the vets suffering from poisoning as a result of chewing on or eating a number of different houseplants." Make sure to clear your home of any risky ones, and keep an emergency vet's contact info handy at all times just in case.
Life Hack: Get A Lint Roller
Dogs aren't the only animals who leave their shaggy fur on every surface of your furniture, clothing, and life! Cats also shed fur all year round, and subsequently, kitty fur will probably unintentionally become a part of your daily wardrobe. Cat lady life comin' in hot. Large packs of lint rollers will likely become a staple on your shopping lists, but take it from me: It's all worth it.
Many People Have Cat Allergies
Speaking of cat fur covering every surface of your life, it's important for you to be aware of the fact that cat allergies are super common. "While an estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology," reported LiveScience. But there are ways to reduce the amount of allergens in your home! Keep your kitty well-groomed and brushed, vacuum the surfaces of your home regularly, invest in a small air purifier, and keep the kitty out of any rooms where someone with an allergy will be sleeping.
Outdoor Life Can Be Really Dangerous
There's a huge misconception out there that it's fine to let cats roam around outdoors freely, but most humane societies and animal organizations actually advocate for keeping your kitty indoors only. Outdoor cats are at a much higher risk for diseases and injuries of all kinds, and as hunters, they can also pose a threat to local wildlife. Any outdoor time should be done under close supervision on a leash (which is the cutest thing ever, btw) or in a safe, enclosed yard secured with a cat fence.
Owning A Cat Can Be Expensive
You know how kids are expensive? Well, cats can be, too. And your kitty won't need a college fund or anything, but you're still going to need to plan to set some money aside for your feline family member. When bringing a cat into your life, keep in mind that you'll need to have funds ready for their annual veterinary appointment and a spay/neuter surgery (if it's not already been done), plus ongoing expenses for food, cat litter, supplies, health care, and toys. You'll also want to stay prepared for any unexpected veterinary expenses, as emergencies do happen sometimes and it can be pricey.
Litter Boxes Need To Be Cleaned... Daily
I know, this one sucks, but it's absolutely vital that any future cat guardian is aware of this. It's just part of life with cats, and we can't skimp on it — litter boxes truly need to be cleaned out daily, sometimes more often. Imagine having to use a filthy bathroom — we'd hate that, right? Well, cats do, too. They are naturally clean animals, and the last thing they want to do is have to step over or into their own waste to use the bathroom. Keeping it clean is for your own benefit, too, as a dirty litter box can stink up a whole house and might drive your cat to do their business outside of the box, which is no good for anyone.
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