Selecting a Cat

By September 10, 2015 Uncategorized

Living with a pet is an enjoyable, rewarding experience. Dogs and cats are fun to live with, and can also provide people with a large measure of comfort. Ask any satisfied pet owner about the pleasure the feel when they come home to a warm welcome from their dog or cat. You’ll hear how much happiness a pet can bring to a person’s life.

Pet owners have a responsibility to their dog or cat. Caring for a pet involves a lifelong commitment to the animal’s well-being. Before selecting a pet you should spend some time considering your choice. Your family members will also be affected by your decision to adopt a pet. Be sure to discuss the issues with them as you consider acquiring a pet. Everyone in your household should agree with your decision. Consideration should also be given to the adaptability of pets already in the household. Young animals generally adapt more easily to new pets than older animals do.

If you are willing to make the necessary commitments to ensure that your pet will have a healthy and happy life, you will certainly enjoy the benefits of owning a pet. Your pet will also enjoy the benefits of having a considerate, dedicated owner.

What type of pet is right for you?

Cat owners, like dog owners, are blessed with pets that are both friendly and interesting. Cats are active pets and enjoy chasing balls or playing hide and seek. They are also good companions in quieter times, sitting on a person’s lap, purring contently.

It may be tempting to accept the first kitten offered to you. Most kittens are cute and playful. There are, no doubt, many satisfied cat owners who were able to get their pet free over the back fence or after reading a newspaper advertisement. These cats are generally the result of a careless pet owner who allowed his or her unsterilized cat to roam outside. People who obtain their cats this way often do the same thing, perpetuating the problem of pet overpopulation. A prospective cat owner should consider whether or not a free cat is really cheaper than one adopted from an animal shelter where vaccinations, a medical exam, permanent identification and often sterilization are included.

The wise thing to do is to take the time to consider your choice of pet before deciding to bring a kitten or cat home. Some forethought can improve the chance that both you and your cat will be happy.

A DOMESTIC OR MIXED BREED CAT CAN BE ACQUIRED AT A LESSER COST THAN A PUREBRED CAT. Purebred cats, like purebred dogs, will cost more, depending on the breed. There are also costs for having your cat neutered or spayed, cat food, cat litter, accessories, toys and for your cat’s annual visit to the veterinary hospital for its checkup and vaccinations. It is also important to have your cat fitted with some form of identification, either a tattoo, tag or microchip. For most people these costs are not prohibitive to cat ownership, but should be considered.

Is A Cat The Right Pet For You?

CATS ARE MORE SELF-SUFFICIENT ANIMALS THAN DOGS, BUT DAILY CARE IS REQUIRED. Your cat must be fed daily and provided with a constant supply of fresh water. Your cat will also need regular grooming and nail trimming. Cats do groom themselves, but they can develop hairballs and mats if they have to clean themselves excessively. Regular brushing and occasional bathing is important in maintaining a healthy skin and coat. You must also clean your cat’s litter box every day. A cat living in a clean area will be less prone to develop medical and behavioural problems.

CATS ARE A FAVOURED PET FOR APARTMENT DWELLERS BECAUSE MOST CAN ADAPT TO SMALL-SIZED LIVING QUARTERS. Make sure you have enough room to set up a litter box away from your cat’s feeding area. Most people like to locate the litter box out of sight of visitors.

Cats, like dogs, need exercise. However, it is a misconception that cats need to roam free outside. To safeguard your cat, it should be leashed and supervised when outdoors unless it is in an enclosed area. Cats should not be let loose outside as they can be injured or killed by cars or other animals, they may be exposed to diseases and parasites, and they can become lost. It is also inconsiderate to your neighbours, as cats often defecate in gardens and can be noisy at night.

Most cats will not scratch furniture or curtains if they have suitable alternatives like scratching posts. If this does become a problem your veterinarian can help you resolve it through training or with plastic nail caps.

Prospective cat owners should also make sure they are not allergic to cats.

MANY PEOPLE HAVE DISCOVERED THAT CATS MAKE EXCELLENT PETS. Working people feel comfortable leaving their cat home alone throughout the day, although thought should be given to having two cats to keep each other company. Cats are affectionate and entertaining yet often less demanding on people who don’t have the time or energy to train and exercise a dog. In most parts of the country, apartment buildings and condominium associations allow tenants to keep cats because they are normally clean and easily adapt to using a litter box.

What Type Of Cat Should You Choose?

NO ONE TYPE OF CAT IS SMARTER, HEALTHIER, OR FRIENDLIER THAN ANY OTHER TYPE. Most cat owners are not interested in whether or not their cat is purebred.

MANY KITTEN OWNERS EXPERIENCE GREAT PLEASURE RAISING A KITTEN AND WATCHING IT MATURE INTO A WELL-BEHAVED, AFFECTIONATE CAT. Kittens are all attractive, but some can grow up to be anti-social cats. This can usually be overcome by providing a stimulating environment in the home.

Mature cats have established personalities and behavioural patterns. This can be great for a person who finds a cat whose habits suit the owner’s home situation and lifestyle. If the animal’s previous owner has let the animal roam outdoors you may have some difficulty teaching the animal to be content living indoors. Do not select a mature cat whose nature is radically different from what you are looking for in a pet.

Should You Spay/Neuter Your Cat?

YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR CAT NEUTERED BEFORE IT IS 5 OR 6 MONTHS OLD (EITHER SPAYED, IF FEMALE OR NEUTERED, IF MALE). As with dogs, neutering pet cats prevents unwanted offspring. Neutered cats are also less likely to develop certain medical problems.

Males who have not been neutered, known as intact males, are more likely to roam and fight with other males if they are let loose outdoors. Intact male cats, like male dogs, mark their territory with urine and may urinate indoors when they are sexually aroused or simply want to mark their territory. The urine of intact males has a very pungent odour. Neutered cats may still engage in territorial spraying.

Unspayed female cats often display odd behaviour that can be unnerving to first-time cat owners. For several weeks, 2 or 3 times a year, the cat will experience oestrus and will exhibit behaviour designed to attract males. During oestrus the female produces a powerfully-scented fluid and may spray it in your house. They may also vocalize loudly in their efforts to get out to mate. Mating sounds can be unnerving to people, as it may appear as if mating cats are fighting.

If you are looking for a cat as a companion, there is no reason not to have the animal neutered or spayed.

Where To Find Your Cat

YOUR FIRST CHOICE FOR ACQUIRING A CAT MIGHT BE AN ANIMAL SHELTER. Many cats are abandoned or neglected and, consequently, most shelters in urban centres have a variety of cats and kittens from which to choose. You will be giving yourself a companion, while giving an abandoned and neglected animal a safe and loving home. The cost of acquiring a cat from a shelter is very reasonable, as it includes a veterinary exam, vaccinations and sometimes sterilization. Shelter staff will also have had time to observe their animals and should be able to answer questions frankly about the nature of their cats and kittens.

Veterinary hospitals sometimes serve as contact points for acquiring cats by advertising available cats and kittens on their notice boards.

Cat breeders offer purebred cats for people who either want to enter their pet in cat shows, or who like the characteristics of a certain breed. Purchasing a cat from a breeder can be expensive compared to other sources. A good breeder should house their cats in a clean, spacious area. If you want a purebred cat, but are not interested in showing your cat, be sure to ask the breeder if they have any “pet-quality” cats. These are animals which retain most of the character traits of the breed but lack some element, usually a particular marking or other physical trait that makes them less suitable for competitive showing. Pet-quality cats are usually available for a lower price than their show-quality litter mates.

Some pet stores offer cats (and dogs) from animal shelters. These stores function as adoption agencies. Others sell mixed breed and purebred cats. Ask the pet store owner for information about the breeder that supplied the kittens before purchasing a cat. Look for the same qualities in a pet store as you would expect to find at a breeder. Clean living areas, knowledgeable staff and playful, well-fed kittens all help identify a quality pet store.

Making Your Selection

IF YOU DECIDE TO GET A KITTEN, YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR 8 TO 12-WEEK-OLD ANIMALS. It is very important to look for a playful, physically and emotionally stable kitten with a gentle temperament. Kittens in this age group should weigh 2 or 3 pounds. If they are too heavy or too thin, they may have health problems. Look for a kitten that is neither too shy nor too aggressive. A healthy kitten should stand straight and walk with a bouncy step. If the cat limps, seems listless or lethargic, or has any nasal or ocular discharges, it could be ill and should be avoided. Look at the kitten’s hair. It should be soft and lustrous without any clumps. The skin beneath the hair should be free of scaly areas or sores. Salt and pepper patterns on a kitten’s fur can indicate the presence of flea eggs and dried blood flecks. Bare patches of skin can indicate the presence of mange.

A kitten’s eyes, ears and nose should be clean and free of any dirt or fluid discharges. Dark wax in a kitten’s ears is often caused by mites. Repetitive sneezing and coughing, or a runny nose is a sign of a respiratory infection. These animals require veterinary attention.

Another possible ailment afflicting kittens is chronic diarrhea. It can be detected by the presence of feces stains at the kitten’s hind end. This may be the result of stress from leaving its mother or from being in a new environment.

Ask the shelter staff, breeder, or store employees about the behaviour of the kittens you are viewing. Some kittens are naturally aloof and may take some time to grow accustomed to each new person. Other kittens are shy and afraid of both humans and other animals. If a young kitten cowers and tries to get away from you it is likely abnormally shy. This is a behavioural deficiency that can be difficult to correct and you may want to avoid selecting such a kitten. Remember, kittens tire quickly and a seemingly shy kitten may in fact just be sleepy.

When you choose a pet, you are making an important decision that will affect your life – and the life of the pet you select – for many years. It is important to take the time to choose wisely. A good choice will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your pet. Take the time to ask questions; pet ownership and all its benefits should be an enjoyable experience which can only be achieved by an educated and eager prospective owner.

Other Sources Of Information On Choosing A Pet

ASK VETERINARIANS, THE SPCA OR A HUMANE SOCIETY TO HELP YOU SELECT THE RIGHT PET. Ask satisfied neighbours and friends how they selected their pet and what makes their relationship with their pet successful. Kennel clubs and dog trainers may have good information about dogs. Cat fancier associations will have information about cats and kittens.

Look under ‘dog’ or ‘cat’ in your library or bookstore and you will find numerous books devoted to helping you select a pet. The Pet Owner’s Guide to Dogs by Kay White offers advice on selecting, training and maintaining a dog. The Cornell Book of Cats, edited by Mordecai Segal, offers advice on selecting a cat. It profiles numerous breeds and gives information about medical conditions that can afflict cats. Many other books with general information on dogs or cats will have a chapter or section dealing with pet selection.

Computer users with access to the World Wide Web can find further information if they use their browser to look up pet-related topics.

As you look for information on selecting a pet, you may wish to gather information on feeding and caring for your prospective pet. Books in your local library will contain this information. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has a booklet available called “A Commonsense Guide to Feeding Your Dog or Cat”, which can be obtained by writing to the CVMA, 339 Booth Street, Ottawa, ON CAN K1R 7K1.

When you choose a pet, you are making an important decision that will affect your life – and the life of the pet you select – for many years. It is important to take the time to choose wisely. A good choice will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your pet. Take the time to ask questions; pet ownership and all its benefits should be an enjoyable experience which can only be achieved by an educated and eager prospective owner.

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