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Tell me what I need to know about being a cat owner please!(138 Posts)
DS (7) wants a pet. We have settled (after lots of discussion) on a cat. We are looking at cats that need rehoming. I don’t really want the hassle of a kitten and I prefer the idea of giving an older cat a home. I’ve never had any pet other than a rabbit as a child, when I obviously wasn’t ultimately responsible for it.
We don’t have a cat flap or really anywhere to put one unless we have the patio door re-glazed to put one in. Would have to rely on being let in and out when we are here for now. I also don’t really want a litter tray inside my house - do you have to have one? I’m assuming either a catflap (constant access to outside) or a litter tray is necessary?
What do I need to know about owning a cat? How much ‘work’ is it?
You always need a litter tray even if you have a cat flap. If you do have a cat flap you may find it's rarely used, but you still need to have one for when its raining/the ground is frozen/the cat feels unwell/there is another scary cat in the garden etc etc.
It is a really good idea to have a cat flap. They can easily be fitted in walls.
It's not that much work really. The rescue should be able to assess your needs and situation and recommend a cat that they think would suit you, which in your case would be an 'easy' one. The fact that you want an adult from a rescue really makes this much easier as they will be able to find the right cat for you and will be able to guide you.
You need insurance (unless you are very rich with plenty of savings). You mustn't have lilies in the house or garden, and you must never feed Go Cat or other cheap dried food (particularly if your cat is male - it's linked to urinary crystals and blocked bladders).
We have a cat without a cat flap and no litter tray. I do put one out in winter. We live rurally and the cat keeps the local rodent population down doesn't really get fed march- september. He's forever eating something dead in the garden though. Goes out at my bedtime and in for breakfast time. There's always someone around to let cat in/out and he's very good at letting his feelings known. Sleeps in the kitchen in colder months and I put a litter tray in the utility for him rarely used unless there's lots of snow though.
Meant to say I wouldn't have a cat flap as I'd be finding lots of little dead presents around my kitchen and the odd live one he's still playing with.
Cats are amazing, pleased that you are re-homing a cat, a good choice for a cat new owner. Enjoy, your cat will quickly become part of your family. We didn’t have a litter tray, as all our cats had access to outside 24/7. Even older cats love to play, so a few toys will be enjoyed, toy mouse on a string etc. Cats are very selective in their affection, in my experience, my last cat was totally my boy, but he also loved eldest son. You will soon learn what your cat wants & when.
If there’s any way to figure out where to put a cat flap then it does make things easier. They can also go in windows and through brick so that might work. We have a microchip one so other cats can’t get in. No cat litter in the house, even in winter. Cats are really easy to look after. They don’t really need much except cuddles, food and water. You could get a bed for the cat maybe. They do have a habit of scratching the furniture and carpet so might be good to try to get them to use a scratching post. Although I’ve never managed to get that to work. They also jump all over paperwork so you’ll get muddy paw prints on anything that is left out like that. School work etc. But they’re lovely.
Tell me what I need to know about being a cat owner please!
There's your first mistake! You do not own your cat. Your cat owns you.
Enjoy, your cat will quickly become part of your family.
Your cat will rule your family!! It's the best thing ever.
Life long cat owner here. You do need a litter tray regardless, though, with a cat flap, mine have virtually never used it. Only when young and not allowed out. In your case, if you adopt an older cat, you will still need to keep it in for a while so it develops a sense of home. You can have cat flaps fitted to glass doors without the need for reglazing. You will need a professional glazer to cut the hole for you though.
The main advice I can give you is you will need to be prepared to deal with what they kill. I know some cats don't kill anything, others are house cats and dont get the chance (but I personally think the joy of cat ownership is that they are free to roam). Then you get lovely cats who are manic and efficient killers, like one of mine. At this time of year, he kills multiple times a day and it can be distressing if they are baby birds. He has killed more mice, voles, rats and birds than I can count, also killed slow worms, earthworms, butterflies, etc and even taken on squirrels. The worst is when he eats the animal and then vomit it back up. On the floor. Grim. Just so you are aware, this could happen to you too.
Your life will be ruled by a small furry despot and you won’t care because by then it’ll be kitty Stockhom Syndrome. Your cat will sulk if you don’t pay sufficient attention to it, bring you dead stuff and shred your furniture - then win you over by being a purring puddle of love in your lap!
I'd disagree about always needing a litter tray. You may need one whilst the cat settles in but then they should be fine outside. A cat flap would be so much easier but it depends how much you are home. A lot of cats get into a routine and tend to come in/out at particular times of day.
Some people do indeed have a cat with no flap and no tray. But just because some people do it, it doesn't mean you should. Cats get upset if they don't have access to somewhere to toilet and can't hold it indefinitely, just like people can't. By doing that you are at the very least subjecting it to unnecessary stress and are most probably setting yourself up to find urine soaked carpets/laundry piles etc. No rescue will home to anyone who says they will have neither a flap nor a tray, and most rescues insist on there being a tray available at all times regardless.
I'm not sure what you think the cat will do if you don't have a litter tray or a cat flap? It will crap in the house.
You need both.
A cat cannot be let out for 3 months or will just run away so you will have to have a litter tray for that period. You can get them with hoods and catflaps so you don't have to look at the contents.
You will need a scratching post and even then the devil will probably destroy all your furniture so you will need to be aware of that.
Cats can be very destructive, mine certainly is and the arms of my sofa is in shreds.
But then I love my cat more than my sofa.
The cat will need yearly vaccinations and you will need pet insurance because an abcess from a fight can cost up to £200 plus depending on how bad it is.
My pet insurance started off at £12 per month but my cat is 19 now and has had a lot of very serious illnesses so I am currently paying £100 a month for it.
They will also need regular worming and de-fleaing or your house will become infested.
There is a lot to think about before taking an animal on.
You can have mine! He has a litter tray but prefers to pee all over the hallway. Scratches walls and carpets, leaves fur everywhere, wakes me up at 6am. It's all very well people saying cats are easy and I'm sure some are but it's misleading in my opinion. They are hard work and require a lot of patience.
Tbh it’s a lot of work and money if your doing it properly. You have to want to give them a lifestyle comparable to yours.
Their not the low maintenance pets people think they are & they will wee in the house if you don’t provide facilities.
Let’s face it outdoor loos were never fun for humans either.
They don't rule the house, they just do their own thing and so do we. We have always had and will always have litter trays, not just for the cats sakes but for the next door gardens, our neighbours don't like our cats but the fact that they know we have trays has helped neighbourly relations. We also keep a patch of freshly dug soil to encourage them to shit in our garden not theirs.
We also have a microchip catflap which we lock overnight so they stay in and are less likely to get run over.
We've been lucky with ours, they don't kill as far as we can tell, in 6 years we've only had one bird brought in and it was uninjured. They do scratch the furniture and carpets and shed fur everywhere though.
Please don’t rely on a cat, especially an older one whose character is well and truly developed, to be a companion for your son.
Some are very happy in human company but a lot aren’t.
We’ve had our current boy since a tiny kitten, slept on our sons bed from the word go, but is fiercely independent and only really interested in us when he’s hungry.
Chillipeanuts - that's why it's such a good idea that the OP is thinking of getting an adult with a fully developed character from a rescue. The character of the cats in the rescue are already known and the rescue can point them towards cats that love human company. With kittens, as you say, you just never know.
Good point. Our previous lovely old boy and his sister, Maine cone crosses, we lost them both at 19 years, were so very different, more like dogs!
Our boy is so different. 7 now, fiercely independent, disdainful, just incredibly “feline”, is the only way to put it. I worship him (not that he cares 😁).
We replaced one glass French door to a glass-with-Cat-Door panel. It isn't cheap I'll say right off .
About £230 and the panel is narrow , I was concerned there might not be enough glass at the edges , The cat-door was £50ish .
It's got the microchip system so our moggies can sail in and out as they desire (till they're locked in)
Mine will come into the house to use the tray then swan out "Yeah, clean that will ya"
At least my NDNs cannot accuse my cats of shitting in their gardens (I would want photographic evidence )
I am glad we got young adults , I cannot be doing with kittens . But the list of things they have destroyed is going up and up.
I knew cats destroyed things, my previous cat shredded the stair carpet to wood when she was old (not as a youngster)
There are loads of cats out there , beautiful cats who are looking for a home .
Mine wander out into the garden ..their garden and I can see them smugly thinking "Yeah, this'll do nicely"
It’s worth waiting to find the right cat for you.
Be prepared financially, especially for an older cat. My own 11year old cat’s insurance has just gone up to £30 a month.
Just remember. 7 year old wants a pet?
Our last cat lived to be 19. He won’t be looking after it when he’s left home!
If you don’t want a cat don’t get one.
Our old girl was on £60 a month of meds a day for the last year or more of her life. Multiple pills a day. Ever tried giving pills to a cat????
They DO need a litter tray and should be in overnight.
They need feeding and grooming and flea and worm treating and affection and .....
And holidays? Who will look after the cat?
I love our cats but they do take time and money to care for properly.
We've always had a cat and never had a cat flap or litter tray except when we've moved house. As Pp said you will need to keep a rehoned cat in for a few weeks until its comfortable with you and its new territory. Get a scratch post, will save your furniture. They scratch instinctively to keep nails sharp. To begin with have a room you can keep the cat in when you bring it home, set up with litter tray, scratch post, food and water and some toys. Block any small gaps but leave it somewhere dark to go where it won't get stuck, like under the bed or in a cupboard.
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