They say that “no man is an island.” Indeed, humans can hardly stand being completely alone. This is probably why spinsters adopt children, and billionaires like “Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley, bequeath their vast wealth to their pets. If you didn’t quite catch the news back in 2007, Ms. Helmsley, a businesswoman responsible for expanding her husband Harry Helmsley’s hotel fortune, left $12 Million US Dollars to her Maltese, Trouble. It was an issue that, while being rather shallow, shows you the lengths that people can go to, for their pets.
And Mrs. Helmsley isn’t alone in being ostentatious with her pets. A man in North Carolina, USA donated $2 Million USD, which was the entirety of his estate at death, to different cat-care charities of his choice. It’s funny to listen to the anchors quip from a comment by the man’s attorney, “His client was obviously very fond of cats.” It’s funny, indeed, the lengths that people go to, in order to ensure that their pets of choice live comfortably after they’ve passed on.
Speaking of pets, cats in particular, you’re probably considering adopting these furry little felines, dreaming that you’ll be a lot less lonely, a lot less alone, and you’re probably even daydreaming of those hours you’ll spend cuddling with your furry new best friends.
Don’t get your hopes up just yet; cats are way different than dogs, and it could be a challenge for the unprepared new Furparent candidate. “Furparent candidate,” because you have to earn your stripes in order to be called a “Furparent.”
We’re not here to discourage you from getting cats. We’re here to get you to consider all things involved, but for this post, we’ll focus on the things that you should be wary about, when you’re looking to adopt cats.
Your cat may not be the huggy-cuddly warm-furry-companion that you’ve dreamed it would be.
Cats are fiercely independent creatures. So independent, they may never even answer to their names. According to an Animal Planet article backed by research conducted at the University of Tokyo, cats definitely recognize their owners’ voices, but they really don’t care when their owners call them. It’s a sad fact that many a cat owner has to come to terms with.
Your cat won’t mean to wreck your apartment or your home, but at some points, it definitely will.
Cats are, by nature, curious animals. They will always want to explore their environment and could get bored sitting around for a stretch. While they sleep for 16 to 20 hours a day, there are times during their active hours when their energy is so high, they’ll get bored and start to get into mischief. They don’t mean to wreck your things in the process, but that’s a risk that is very real, and may happen to ALL cat owners. The solution is to play with your cats and keep them occupied when they’re active, but it’s never a guarantee that they’ll never get into mischief.
If your cat is stressed, it will DEFINITELY act out.
Stressed cats tend to misbehave. So if you’re transporting a cat from one state to another, one island to another, even one province to another, expect the cat to be in a stressed and “fight or flight” state for a few weeks after the transport.
- Addressing the “Fight” state: Leave your cat alone. Much as you are excited to hug and cuddle your new pet, your cat is still in a very stressed mood. Some of them may accept petting and cuddling, but some may react to it more aggressively, as petting tends to overstimulate a cat. So if you don’t want to take the risk of getting scratch, leave your cat alone, until it has settled into your place. You can tell that it has become comfortable when it has settled into a routine, no longer acts out, and may even volunteer affection with you.
- Addressing the “Flight” state: When the cat arrives in your place, it is best to keep the cat in a room where there are no escape routes for a cat. Make sure that it doesn’t have vents, windows, or any other openings that lead elsewhere, or may even trap your cat. The cat will be so stressed, it will work overtime to find escape routes.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries.
While most cat lovers and experts say that living with a cat is always a compromise, you have to admit that there is a lot of grief involved when a cat wrecks your things, or gets into your food. So if your cat has a bad habit of getting into your food, don’t be afraid to push it from the kitchen surface. If your cat has a bad habit of scratching your furniture, have a spray bottle ready and spray it just above or to the side of your cat’s head, where the sound can hit its ears. It’s best if you get a spray bottle that can shoot long ranges, so that you can spray from a distance, and the spraying won’t be associated with you. However, if you really don’t care, spray away with a short-range mist bottle.
If you need to, you might also want to consider using leashes and crates, especially if you want to limit its movement. If you don’t have an extra room to confine your cat and keep it away from mischief, keeping your cat in a crate may be the next best solution. It’s not inhumane; it’s simply a compromise for your sanity, and your cat’s safety. From you, mostly, so that you won’t get to the point of wanting to wring your cat’s neck. We kid. Half-ly.
Trim your cat’s claws, possibly even use Soft Paws nail caps, instead of declawing.
This PETA.org article makes a very strong case about why declawing is an inhumane practice. It also states the more humane alternatives, which includes the use of nail caps or Soft Paws, which cover your cat’s sharp claws, but don’t harm them at all. In the PETA article, it states there that a cat’s claws are an integral part of its body. Take them away, and you take away its ability to balance, its gracefulness, and you might even cause spine damage. So while your couch and your furniture may be crying out for you to declaw your cat, consider more humane alternatives first.
If you aren’t a creature of routine, you’ll have to learn to be.
Cats thrive on routine. So if you don’t have food out by a certain time, expect your cat to wake you up in the morning, or bother you in the afternoon or evening. When they need to go poop, you also have to have their litter box ready by a certain time. Notice your cat’s patterns and work it into your daily schedule accordingly.
You will have to get acquainted with kitty litter duties.
Of course a cat is not all fun and games. A cat is a living thing: it eats and drinks water, so therefore, it also poops and pees. Cats instinctively head for a sandy patch of earth, so it’s relatively easy to litter-train a kitten. Great if you get a litter-trained adult cat, too, but you still have to face the fact that a litter box does not clean itself. So get ready to scoop out poop on a daily basis, and deal with cleaning out the litter box on a regular basis. And we have to tell you: Even with deodorizing and scented litter sand, cat poop does not smell nice at all.
Getting a pet is no simple fun and games. It is actually a lifetime responsibility: A responsibility that lasts for the lifetime of your pet. For a cat, it’s 12 to 15 years of furry bliss with you. Knowing these “headaches” that you’ll need to deal with when you get a cat, we hope that when you get your furry feline friend, it will be an informed decision, where you know all the responsibilities you need to deal with.
Here’s to eventually earning the “Furparent” title!