My feed

to access all these features

Join our community of cat lovers on the Mumsnet Cat forum for kitten advice and help with cat behaviour.

The litter tray

how hard is a cat?

23 replies

MissCornelia · 10/01/2012 12:51

DS really wants a cat & we like the idea too. Worried about how hard work it might be!

I feel like we are coping with life at the moment, DH works a lot, DS1 is 3.5 & DS2 is 4 months, the house is generally tidy-ish & clean-ish, I'm generally a bit behind on the laundry but nearly there...etc etc. Standard really I think. Would a cat be the thing to tip me over the edge?

OP posts:
SootySweepandSue · 10/01/2012 12:58

It depends on the cats personality and age to a certain extent.

I've had a high-maintenance cat whom we had from a kitten. She was more work than a newborn baby and I am not exaggerating!

We now have another kitten who is totally angelic and no trouble at all.

You could get an older cat with a known personality from a rescue shelter.

TopazMortmain · 10/01/2012 12:59

The thing about cats is they are like people - you simply don't know what they will be like until you've lies with them a while. I have had cats that have been:

Passive to the point of stupidity
Lovely and calm
Clean as Martha Stewart

So you really need to want to have a cat for their essential 'cattiness' and be prepared for all scenarios...


They can be trained but only if they want to be in my experience...

TopazMortmain · 10/01/2012 12:59

Lived! Not lies

Hate this phone

redrubyshoes · 10/01/2012 13:06

My cats have always been very little bother, always clean and very affectionate. I think it depends on what happened to them before they come to you. If they have only known love and gentleness then they will recipricate but of they have had a rough start they will be flighty and nervous.

A cat flap is a must for me, I would literally be up and down a dozen times a day otherwise. Otherwise no bother and I wouldn't be without her .

One thing I would advise though is to check the DC's have no allergies to cats before committing to one. So many animals end up in shelters because owners have found out too late.

MissCornelia · 10/01/2012 13:11

Ooh replies! So you would all agree that the work comes from the personality in the attention they need, not housework? (I suppose I'm thinking of litter trays & clearing up food).

We would need a cat that was willing to be adored by a preschooler - I had thought it would be best to train up a kitten but do you think a rehomed family cat would be better?

OP posts:
redrubyshoes · 10/01/2012 13:17

I think I would go for an oldish kitten, say four or five months so it is house trained etc. The Cats' Protection rehome kittens from that age.

CMOTDibbler · 10/01/2012 13:18

I wouldn't get one atm - wait until ds is a bit older and really understands that cats will scratch if you annoy them. And that can include just stroking them when they don't want it.
Cats are not reliably cuddly whether you get them as a kitten or older - our most antisocial cat came as a kitten.

A better pet might be an indoor guinea pig or two

pookiecat · 10/01/2012 13:20

I would suggest a older rescue cat, male cats [ neutered] are lovely. We got a 1 year old male from Cats Protection and he is lovely with my DD[ 2.] Some rescues wont let cats/ kitterns go to home with young children , try Cats Protection- very helpful.

oreocrumbs · 10/01/2012 13:21

The two cats that I've had that were the least bother I got as kittens from a rescue centre. One was with its mother the other just the kittens, both came litter trained, and weaned (rescue don't let you have kittens as young as pet shops or other people).

In the sense of work, you may have to hoover a bit more I don't if you are very particular.
Litter tray needs poop removing as soon as you see it, and emptying properly anything from evey day to twice a week depending on how much they use it (once they go outside they do most of their toilet outside). Get a litter tray with a lid to stop bits of litter flying around when they scrat at it.
Food bowls need washing after use.
Thats about it. You will need to keep the litter tray away from the baby so he can't play with it when he is crawling about.
Attention wise it depends on their personality, but they adapt to what is available IME, our cat was spoilt rotten, loads of attention, when DD came along he got a lot less, he doesn't seem to be too bothered. the nights she stays at my mothers he is more attention seeking, but when she is here he doesn't bother me much!

Lancelottie · 10/01/2012 13:21

My cat is well 'ard. Brings in anything from moles to dead ferrets.

TheNinjaGooseIsOnAMission · 10/01/2012 13:35

we got a rescue cat just over a year ago and really she's been no trouble at all, not keen on my 2 yo but she just stays away from him and he's learnt to leave her when she needs space. The other thing to bear in mind that's more hassle is what you do if you go holiday, you'll have to have someone prepared to come in to feed or consider a cattery which can be expensive as can vet bills these days, it's worth seeing what the cost of vacs and various treatments can be with your local vet and look into pet insurance to cover vet bills too. The cost had gone up an awful lot between this cat and our previous one we had a few years back!

MrsEricBana · 10/01/2012 13:54

I am not a "cat person" but have two cats who I adore - I have got it bad! Excellent pets in that they are clean, don't need walking and can go outside to the loo, you can leave food and water down for them etc so fit in easily with family life and not a tie at all. Love to be cuddled, really affectionate etc and the dcs adore them BUT there are downsides that might put you off in your position.

  • our kitten had to stay in for 1st 6 months I think and so was litter tray clearing all that time (but now they almost never use the tray)
  • vet bills can be high
  • cattery fees if go away unless a friend will feed them
  • they can scratch furnishings (mine don't, luckily)
  • now this is me being precious but they will come in with muddy feet and then walk on your carpets, pale furnishings, white duvet cover (sob!!) - this really stressed me out when dcs little (from an extra washing perspective) so now they can go out whenever they like but I let them in and check not too muddy and towel them if they are (now I sound mad - no one I have ever met admits to doing this!!!)
  • when dcs were little I had bee in bonnet that they would get in the cot and felt I had to shut door whenever dcs sleeping which I would have preferred not to do
  • agree with whoever said you have to keep crawling dcs away from food and litter tray
  • washing up dirty food bowls needs doing

Honestly in your shoes I would wait till your youngest is a little bit older so cot smothering thing and crawling near food less of an issue then go for it - mine ADORE the cats and I am so glad we have them but did stress me a bit when they were tiny.
(I am not as mad or precious as I sound above Grin)
PurpleWithaBlueBun · 10/01/2012 13:54

If you have any doubts, don't get a cat!

They are easy, as long as you can cope with dead creatures, the occasional sick... They are expensive, jabs are yearly, flea treatment, worming and pet insurance (if you go for it) and then food all add up. I got one of my cats from the rescue when she was 6 months and she is lovely and I would definitely go for rescue again. Boycat I got as a 8 week old kitten and was much more expensive paying for micro chip.etc things which I got included with my other cat. I also am not keen on the tiny kitten stage so find it tedious. He is also very demanding in terms of affection and won't take no for an answer, hoped having his balls off would help but no! Still not very difficult and Dd can carry him about and he is fine!

oreocrumbs · 10/01/2012 13:56

MrsEric I towel my cat down too! He lines up with the dogs to get a rub down Blush

MrsEricBana · 10/01/2012 13:56

Oh also I have had kittens and grown up cats and although kittens more work at first, they are utterly adorable and you get to shape your cat a bit, whereas, as someone said above, if you get an older cat it is already shaped by it's previous life and could be standoffish or wary or whatever depending on how had been treated (our first one was very very standoffish).

MrsEricBana · 10/01/2012 13:57

Of yes Purple, catsick :-(

MrsEricBana · 10/01/2012 13:57

Oh not of

MrsEricBana · 10/01/2012 13:58

Thanks for that Oreo - have never admitted to this in RL!!!!

haggisaggis · 10/01/2012 14:11

WE have a 6 month old kitten and a 5 year old rescue. The kitten is great fun - but likes to bite (sees it as playing) and has knocked and broken several ornaments / lamps as well as scratching our duvet cover and a wicker chair.
The older cat (came from rescue a few weeks before we got the kitten) is less work but not as friendly - and has pooed on teh dc's beds more than once.
So to summarise - they aren't that much work - but they are more disrupting than you may think!

Mikocat · 10/01/2012 14:13

I would agree that an adult cat from a shelter would be the way to go if you want it 'easy'. If you get a kitten then you are looking at a few months until they can go outside, so you'll be changing litter trays every day. At least with an adult after a couple of weeks indoors to get used to the place they can go outside to the loo (we only ever have a litter tray indoors in extreme circumstances like heavy snow).

Also they will probably come ready neutered and microchipped, saving lots of expense!

And of course the personality will be more of a known factor, so you may be able to get one that is used to children already.

DontCallMeBaby · 10/01/2012 16:27

We got our two at eight weeks, when DD was five. She was desparately keen to get them, and scared of them when we got them - they were tiny, had a tendency to climb legs and knead people with their claws out, and she has the lowest pain threshold I've ever encountered in a person (or is possibly just a bit of a drama queen). We had a couple of 'incidents' - she threw a cushion at one of them (he would have weighed about 2lb at the time) and on another occasion slammed a door behind her while running away from one of them, trapping his paw. She was a sensible, relatively calm 5yo, so I was surprised. All was well in the end, but it does make me wonder how anyone gets away with introducing pets to younger, non-baby children without serious mishap!

So I do think if you were being SERIOUSLY sensible you'd wait until your YOUNGEST was at least 5 ... but then if I'd been seriously sensible I wouldn't have taken on kittens at all. I probably wouldn't again (because any further cat would be a 'replacement' (sob) for one of the current ones, and an adult cat and a kitten produces all sorts of logistical problems) but I'm glad I did it once. Because while they were sharp and pointy and a pain in the arse, they were also ADORABLE.

We had them from a home with young children, which worked out well as DD didn't faze them too much (when not shutting paws in doors anyway). I found one shelter locally which wouldn't let a lot of their charges to go homes with 'very young children', which when I asked, turned out to be under 10! A bit risk averse, I still think, even after what DD was like.

Down sides have been:

  • vet bills - they're insured, but one was sick when we first got him and the insurance hadn't kicked in, plus it doesn't cover preventative stuff or the first £70
  • fleas - we had an infestation at the end of last year due to crappy Frontline, me being rubbish, and the weird weather, I think it's fixed now, not 100% sure, and it was a pain
  • litter tray wasn't nice, took us ages to find litter that suited, but now they go outside
  • one of them is a bit sicky, but unlike most cats he prefers hard, washable surfaces to vom on (well done Saus)
  • we had an invader coming in through the cat flap, stressing them out so they started to spray - now have a microchip flap so no problems any more, but obviously that cost
  • we had quite a few fight injuries last year, which cost quite a bit in vet fees (excesses on the insurance) and time taking them to and from the vet

    Good stuff, apart from their general loveliness:
  • they eat only dry food (one actually won't eat wet) so it doesn't stink the house out or need the bowls washing all the time
  • they're happy with someone coming in to feed them if we go away for a few days (they went to a cattery for ten days over Xmas '10 but hated it and weed in their beds)
  • no walks needed, shorthaired so don't need grooming (but black and white, so moult contrasting colours onto everything)

    They're really very sweet, and very little bother. Even though one of them has decided he'd like to spend at least the early part of the night sleeping VERY VERY close to my face. Confused
Fluffycloudland77 · 11/01/2012 11:57

Depends, avoid Bengals if you dont want your furniture used as a springboard/backdrop for athletics training (doesnt matter where the sofa is in the room, it always ends up a springboard).

You need a door mat with a high cotton content to soak up muddy paws and if you can a carpet cleaner for sick and poo accidents (dirty protests at percieved slights).

I use aldi and lidl cat food, £6 a week for one cat (getting greedy, starting to look like he's a fur covered beer keg), smartprice catlitter and just pay the vet bills as they come. Which is pretty regular with sore anal glands, ears, intolerance to maize based cat food and conservatory surfing/intrepid tree climbing to get to a disused nest (small branches will not hold a 13lb cat).

kreecherlivesupstairs · 11/01/2012 12:20

Looks like we've got off lightly in the cash dept.
Our two boy brothers are chalk and cheese. Both were denutted and chipped at the same time. Total cost was £160.
Apart from that, we've got vax boosters next year, food is about a fiver a week, they don't use litter any more although they preferred the wood pellet type to chalk or cat san.
One of my boys is really affectionate and adores the company of people. The other really couldn't give a toss.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.