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How easy is it to have a cat as a pet?

(22 Posts)
Dancergirl Thu 07-Jul-11 16:49:30

We've never had pets before and tbh I'd never considered having a cat as I thought it seems like a big responsibility. However my friend who has a cat says they make the easiest pets ever!

Is this true? What sort of things do I need to think about before getting a cat? The dds are 10, 8 and 4. We have enough space downstairs for the cat to have its own space, I understand this is important, and we have a garden.

SootySweepandSue Thu 07-Jul-11 17:02:30

My kitten was more work than my newborn. Seriously!

I had tremendous guilt about leaving her alone and not playing with her enough. She woke at 5am and would scratch at my door wailing. I worried about her going out and getting stuck/run over and now getting into fights which she often does.

It is much better if they can go out rather than use a litter tray. I remember being over the moon when I no longer had to dispose of her poohs down the toilet.

If I get another cat I would get a 1 yr one although I bet your kids would love a kitten!

peggotty Thu 07-Jul-11 17:12:28

Kittens can be quite hard work and tbh there are so many lovely adult cats in rescue centres desperate for homes I would get one of them instead. Another bonus of getting adult cats is that you can be fairly sure of their personalities before you take them whereas kittens are a bit on an unknown quantity in that wAy. I've owned cats for years and find them easy rewarding pets BUT not always completely straightforward. They can develop behavioural problems if they are bullied by other cats for example, may scratch furniture or spray in your house. Then theres the hunting if you have an outdoor cat, you may be brought things in ( dead or alive ) ranging from rabbits, to birds, to earthworms or as one of mine once did, a string of uncooked sausages hmm.

You need to neuter them, and ideally insure them. People think cats can be standoffish and disloyal but mine have all been endlessly affectionate and friendly ( rescue adults apart from my rescue female kitten who is friendly but skittish).
HTH a bit smile

Dancergirl Thu 07-Jul-11 19:44:28

Thanks. As much as I love kittens, I can see the advantages of having an older cat. In fact my friend has a rescue cat and she says she's really easy to look after. Goes to the toilet outside so no litter to clear out.

The scratching of furniture is something my dh is worried about peggotty. How can you avoid this?

peggotty Thu 07-Jul-11 20:18:37

Dancer, it's hard to stop cats scratching tbh. Some cats just won't scratch furniture at all, not interested it, but others will shred your Chesterfield in 2 weeks flat grin. My cats won't go near leather furniture actually but ruined our last fabric sofa. You can encourage them to scratch elsewhere by having a couple of catnip doused scratching poles around the house but it's really luck of the draw if you get a 'scratcher'!! I agree that not having a litter tray is good but you may get pissed off neighbours if your feline decides to crap in their begonias or whatever but for gods sake don't start a thread on mumsnet about it if that happens as you'll bring down the wrath of the MN cat- haters upon your head wink

hewlettsdaughter Thu 07-Jul-11 20:22:48

I think cats are relatively easy to look after, but one thing to think about is whether you have people you could call on to feed your cat while you were away. Or whether you could afford to put them in a cattery while on holiday.

CharlotteBronteSaurus Thu 07-Jul-11 20:25:41

IMO they are fairly easy.
definitely get an adult rescue cat as like peggoty says, the shelter will know their personality, litter tray competence etc.

our cat has in the last few months stopped using her litter tray, but we still keeo it out for her, with the same old clean litter in, just in case she wants to start again. luckily, current cat doesn't scratch furniture, preferring a scratching post, but our last cat ruined an armchair and a rug. but i always figure that if you have young dc your furniture tends to look a bit shagged out anyway.

the worst bit with this cat is the hunting. she catches birds and mice, but prefers not to kill them, instead bringing them in alive to toy with at her leisure. it is gross in the extreme having to catch live, slightly wounded mice and birds, and release them back into the park.

sprinkles77 Thu 07-Jul-11 22:56:56

Agree with above.
1. adult rescue cat is great: you know what the personality is like, and they usually are neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. I think RSPCA charges about £80, which is pretty fair (a course of jabs is about £40 at the vet, chipping is £12 and neutering £20-30). Oh, and all kittens are toilet trained by their mothers, so they don't have as many accidents as puppies.
2. Other costs to consider: insurance (about £100 a year, very worthwhile), annual jabs, food, cat litter, cattery if on holiday (usually about £10 per day).
3. Other considerations.. get a lockable cat flap installed, be prepared to clear up poo from neighbors gardens if asked. I keep mine indoors at night by locking the catflap, as she fights and comes off worse. We have a litter tray for her just in case, but she's not used it for months.
4. either they scratch your furniture or they don't. Generally less interested in leather than fabric. they also like carpets and sometimes curtains. My cat loves the door mat and mostly just scratches that. it's one of those old fashioned brown scratchy ones.
5. Best way to deal with partially live prey: bash with a brick- kills them very fast. I put a plastic bag over them first so I don't have to look.
6. I love my cat! She's so funny and so affectionate. They can be very rewarding and always less hassle than a dog.

Listmaker Fri 08-Jul-11 13:44:41

I always tell people that cats are the easiest pets of all. We have three and one uses a litter tray but it's not really a problem and it does save my poor neighbours' gardens.

They aren't cheap with vets bills etc but they are so funny and lovely and great company so well worth it. I absolutely love my three boys!

We just get friends or neighbours to feed them if we're away - they are fine left alone and as they eat dry food they just need someone to come in once a day really. They do sulk a bit when we get back but at least they missed us!

One does scratch the furniture but mainly a really old sofa and he's ruined my dining chairs but they're a mess anyway - we had nice covers made for them but I can only put them on 'for best' as George will ruin them too given half a chance!

Sn0wGoose Fri 08-Jul-11 15:19:50

We love our two furboys and wouldn't be without them. They're easy peasy to care for - they pee outside and don't require walking!

Ours don't shred furniture - just keep plenty of scratchy surfaces available; ours sharpen their claws on our jute doormat.

When we go on holiday we pay a registered, insured pet sitter £6 a day to come in and feed them, and as a bonus they pick up our mail / water plants etc. I don't recommend catteries tbh as cats are territorial and it's quite distressing to them to be removed from their territory and plonked somewhere new.

I wouldn't get a kitten - they really are like newborns. Get one from 6 months upwards, and it will be litter trained and you'll know what nature cat you're getting. It will still be playful and a bit bity/scratchy at that age - get one aged 1 1/2+ and that will have calmed down.

grin)

Dancergirl Fri 08-Jul-11 17:31:51

Thanks, that's really helpful.

I really, really want a cat now! Funnily enough when I was a little girl I adored cats to be the point of being completely and utterly obsessed. My mum never let me have one though.... sad

Trouble is, my dds would prefer a guinea pig!

iklboo Fri 08-Jul-11 17:34:51

And when you're feeling cheesed off, they'll sit on your lap, purr & make you feel tons better.

SuburbanDream Fri 08-Jul-11 17:44:45

We got 2 rescue cats about 6 months ago and it has been brilliant so far! They are mother and son, about 3 and 2 yrs we think. I was a bit worried about litter trays and whether they would wee all over the house, but on the first day I put them in the tray a couple of times and they got the idea straight away smile. The male cat hates the litter tray actually and will hold on til he is let outside, whereas the mother will spend hours outside, then come in and use the litter!! Now the weather is nice they are out most of the time. The mother cat tends to stay in the garden, or follows me round the house, whereas the male is off on his adventures the minute I let him out and only comes home for food! I keep them in at night and they are very affectionate, especially mother cat who loves a nice lap to sit on smile. I suppose I'm trying to say that cats can be quite different - I am sure a rescue centre woiuld be able to give you lots of info on which cats would best suit you and your family. My DCs love their new furry friends so much smile

I would bear in mind other neightbourhood cats (and neighbours who might not like cats!) though, my boy has had a few run-ins with the local alpha male although they seem to have accepted each other now. Also, what about other risks such as traffic etc?

Dancergirl Fri 08-Jul-11 18:26:54

iklboo - that's just it. I've sat on friends' sofas cuddling their cats and I love it, especially when they purr!

I just had it in my mind that something like a guinea pig/hamster is less of a responsibility than a cat but they're probably MORE work.

Dancergirl Fri 08-Jul-11 18:28:08

Just one other question - when they go outside how far do they tend to go and how do they remember how to come back? Can cats just get lost wandering around outside?

Greenshadow Fri 08-Jul-11 18:45:28

Hi Dancer,
I come from a non-cat family, but a couple of years ago took on a couple of rescue kittens.
They have been very easy - only time I would class them as being an 'inconvenience' is when we want to go away for a weekend (A week long summer holiday we would put them in a cattery, but not really worth it for a weekend).
Litter trays don't take long to sort out.

As to your last question about how far they go - how long is a piece of string?
When they were first allowed outside, they quickly got used to the local environment and within a few weeks, one at least, was going quite a way (followed him once) but once they had thoroughly explored the area, they then became home lovers and now rarely leave the garden. Don't think cats usually get lost.

sprinkles77 Fri 08-Jul-11 22:44:12

how far they go? As far as they can... we live on the end of a terrace and i've seen mine the other end of the terrace on other people's shed roofs. They remember to come back because you make home irresistable. First you keep the new cat in for at least 1 week, probably more like 2-4. You feed them at set times (2x a day) and at first only let them out when they are hungry, like an hour before dinner time. Then you call them home at dinner time. I rattle the box of go cat and whistle before meals, and she comes back, sometimes it takes a while if she's a long way off.

SuburbanDream Sat 09-Jul-11 15:21:18

My male cat goes quite a long way - according to the neighbours whose gardens he visits!! When we first had them we kept them inside for the first 4 weeks. I used to ring a little bell when I fed them and they soon associated the sound with getting fed. The when I let them into the garden for the first few times, I made sure they were really hungry and rang the bell to get them back. I still ring it when I want them in for the night and they usually come back in straight away. They have collars with bells on and I can hear them running home before I can actually see them smile

tabulahrasa Sun 10-Jul-11 02:36:23

How far they go depends on the cat really, one of mine goes out in the garden, and in next door's garden and that's about it, she only goes out for about 20 minutes at a time and only if it's warm.

The other goes out for hours at a time, comes back to eat and use the litter tray, no idea where she goes to be honest, lol.

Just to be awkward, guinea pigs purr too smile

cats are easier than dogs, harder than gunea pigs, rofl.

DooinMeCleanin Sun 10-Jul-11 03:02:45

Cats are easy, so long as they don't have IBS <stares accusingly at Fat Cat>. It is damn near impossible to stop an outdoor cat from eating things he should not eat and cruel to keep an outdoor cat indoors.

T'is okay though, my vet tells me the only thing my cat's sloppy shits cause pain to is me sad.

I like to think they cause pain to the neighbours who feed him, despite his collar tag clearly stating he has medical conditions and needs a special diet. I also like to think my neighbours have carpet and lots of soft furnishings grin

I get some small comfort in imagining the neighbours cleaning liquid shit out of their expensive carpets. Knowing my luck, they have cheap laminate angry

If you are not prepared to put in the work and cope with the mess and the scratching and the smells, then pets aren't really for you. If you are prepared to cope with it, you'll own one lucky and hopefully healthy cat smile

carocaro Mon 18-Jul-11 22:31:26

What are the good and bad points of male and female cats?

Personally I would like female, as I have two sons and a husband and want to balance things out a bit! My youngest starts school in September and I work from home and I will miss having another person in the house and the thought of a cat really appeals. I had cats when I was younger; Nelson RIP devoted to each other throughout my teenage years.

Am also thinking a kitten would be a pain and am looking forward to relinquishing all my 'baby style' duties now both DS's at school from Sept but an older cat can have issues; Fozzy, again RIP but you had to go after we got you from the CPL you were crazy in oh so many ways.

So what to do? Boys would love a kitten and she would get used to their loudness and forcefullness and a older cat may not like all the bru-ha-ha.

tabulahrasa Tue 19-Jul-11 01:10:55

There's not supposed to be any massive difference in gender once they're neutered, but I find boys to be a bit more laidback - could be in my head though, lol.

As for age, you could get a kitten who never gets used to kids and with an older cat it's easier to assess temperament - so I'd be looking for either age, but that's already used to living with children.

Or, as another age option, after about 6 months up until about 18 months, they're past the needy baby stage, but still kitteny enough to want to play lots...

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