Should You Get a Cat for Your Family

Deciding if a cat is the right pet for your family can be difficult. You want to make sure you are ready to handle cat ownership. Here's how you can find out.

How to Know If You're a "Cat Family"

It is very important that you don't ever just jump into pet ownership before figuring out if you can handle the responsibility of a pet. This goes for any pet. We don't want homeless dogs and cats all over the place just because someone thinks that kitten is so cute, then when it gets older it's not looking so cute anymore. So before you get yourself a cat, you need to ask yourself these questions.

1. "Am I prepared for a cat?" This means can you provide for a cat financially, including veterinarian bills that might come up and keeping up to date on your cat's immunizations. It also means having a good place for the cat - a stable environment. If you're renting, it means you plan on staying long term and the landlord is okay with you having cats. If you own your own home, do you have an area for the cat and a place for a litter box?

2. "What kind of impact will it have on my lifestyle?" Do you like to travel a lot? If so, do you have someone who can care for the cat while you're away? Or maybe you will just bring the cat with you as a travel companion. Do you have children or are you about to? What will all of these changes do to you? Do you feel you can handle all of that added responsibility?

3. "Will it make me happy long term?" If you have just lost a pet, going out and getting another one might seem like a great idea. However, you really need to ask yourself if this is what you need long term. Will you receive benefits from pet ownership beyond those first days? Or are you eventually just going to get bored with it all once the newness wears off?

All of these are important questions to ask yourself. If you are prepared financially and emotionally to provide for a cat, then you need to spend some time with the cat before you take it home. Everyone who lives in your house should do this. If there's any chance of an allergy you want to find out before you take a cat home. Don't just spend a few minutes with the cat, either. Sometimes it takes repeated exposure for an allergy to show up. And not all cats will cause you the same reaction either, so don't feel too discouraged. If one cat makes you break out in an itchy rash, another one might not.

Make sure everyone in your home is on board with the responsibility of having a cat in the home. No one should be afraid of the cat. Cats are not really into being owned per se; they are more of a sentient being. They need to be made to feel like a member of the family and not a possession. And they will seek you out for attention when they want it, so don't be thinking just because you're in the mood to pet a cat he's necessarily going to be in the mood to be pet.

Cats are relatively self-sufficient. Give them some daily exercise in the form of play and leave a bowl of food and water out for them and a litter box and they won't require much of you. But they can be very finicky and lash out when they do not get what they want, so you need to be prepared to learn to speak the cat's language to figure out how to meet his needs.

As long as you can provide a good stable home with lots of love and the proper nutrients and medical care, then you might just be the family to have a cat.

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