How to Know if You're Ready to Get a Cat
Getting a cat is a long-term commitment, so you should take the time to ensure you’re ready. Assess your lifestyle and make sure you can spend time with a new pet, that caring for a cat fits into your future plans, and that everyone in your household is ready for a pet. Make sure you can afford upfront and annual pet care costs, and try to keep some extra money on hand in case of an emergency. You should also ensure that your home is pet-friendly and safe for a curious cat.
Assessing Your Lifestyle
Figure out if you have enough time to care for a cat.While cats are thought of as independent pets, they still need to spend time with their owners. Make sure you can spend at least a couple hours every day playing and bonding with your cat.
- Cats need at least a half hour of exercise per day. Playing with a cat will give it exercise and help you bond with it.
- Getting used to new surroundings takes time, so try to take some time off work during the first few days after bringing a new cat home.
Make sure you’re ready for a 15- to 20-year commitment.Before getting a cat, take some time to evaluate your ability to take on a long-term commitment. Remember that cats often live up to 20 years.
- You can’t predict the future, but if you move at least once a year, travel a lot for work, plan on having a family, or anticipate other major lifestyle changes, you might consider getting a cat when things are more settled.
Consider your future family plans.Make sure caring for a cat fits into your family plans. If you’re dating someone and plan on getting married, make sure they’re not allergic to cats. Talk to your spouse about having children, and make sure you’re both prepared to balance the new responsibilities of building a family with caring for your cat.
Make sure everyone in your household is ready for a cat.If you already have children, talk to them about caring for a cat and respecting its boundaries. If you expect them to take on care responsibilities, like litter box cleaning, explain to them how and when to do their chores. Remind them that cats can be independent and often like to have their space, so they shouldn’t force the cat to play with them.
- Avoid making your children solely responsible for taking care of the cat. It is likely too much for them to handle and may be overwhelming. Everyone in the household should agree to help take care of the cat.
- Spend time around friends’ or family members’ cats to teach your kids how to handle a cat and to ensure no one in your family is allergic.
Be prepared for messes and slight damage.Make sure you have the patience to tolerate the things cats do that aren’t so cute. Be ready to deal with hairballs and vomit, cat hair on clothes and furniture, claw scratching, litter box cleaning, and occasional bathroom accidents.
- Some breeds shed less than others, but keep in mind there are messy aspects of pet ownership that you can’t avoid.
Try fostering or cat-sitting before getting a cat.Fostering or cat-sitting can help you decide whether or not you're ready to get a cat of your own. Ask a friend or family member if you can watch their cat for a weekend, ideally at your house. You can also contact your local animal shelter or humane society and ask for information about their fostering program.
Ensuring You Can Afford a Cat
Be prepared to spend at least 0 to 0 on upfront costs.Even if you adopt or rescue a cat instead of purchasing one, you’ll need to cover a variety of upfront costs. They typically total around 0 (U.S.), so make sure you’ve made room in your budget before getting a cat.
- Spaying or neutering costs between 0 and 0.
- Initial vet expenses cost about 0.
- A litter box is about .
- Incidental items (food, toys, and so on) can total about .
Make sure you can spend at least 0 a year on basic care.In addition to upfront costs, annual costs can add up, so make sure providing long-term care is within your budget. Excluding any emergencies, expect to pay at least 0 (U.S.) on annual care. If you elect to purchase pet insurance, your annual total could approach 0.
- Food for a year on average adds up to 4.
- Recurring medical costs total to 0.
- Litter for a year is 5.
- Toys, treats, and incidentals could add another .
- Pet insurance on average would add up to 5.
Try to keep about 0 saved up for an emergency.Pet insurance can help lower the cost of emergency vet care, so consider getting a policy for your cat. You should still do your best to be financially prepared for an emergency. Try to keep about 0 on hand to handle unforeseen medical issues.
Getting Your Home Ready for a Cat
Make sure your landlord allows cats.Cats do well in smaller spaces, so they’re great pets if you live in an apartment. However, you should check with your landlord before getting a cat and, if necessary, check or amend your lease to verify that your apartment is pet-friendly.
- You might be responsible for a one-time or recurring pet fee, so make sure to fit any applicable fees into your budget.
Remove hazards to keep a curious cat safe.Before you get a cat, you need to make sure you can cat-proof your home. Cover electrical outlets, make sure furniture won’t tip over, remove knick knacks that your climbing cat might knock over, and keep small choking hazards (like thumbtacks, rubber bands, and paperclips) inaccessible.
Make sure windows, doors, and HVAC ducts are tight.Check all of your home’s windows and make sure their parts are in solid order. Make sure screens are secure for windows that you open, and that the window won’t slam shut and injure your cat. Make sure all of your HVAC ducts are sealed tightly so your cat won’t be able to hide or get lost in your duct system.
Keep medications, cleaners, antifreeze, and other toxic chemicals secure.Avoid leaving medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen out and take care not to drop any pills, as these drugs are deadly for cats. Store cleaning products and other chemicals in tightly closing cupboards, and consider using a baby guard so your cat can’t open the cupboard door.
- If you intend to let your cat out of the home, take special care to clean up antifreeze puddles under your car. Antifreeze is particularly harmful to cats.
- Be sure that any plants in your home are nontoxic, as many cats like to chew on plants.
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