View Full Version : I need info: my kid wants a cat . . .
. . .and I'd like to get as much information as I can before we take the plunge. I know kitties are cute and are less maintenance than a dog, but that's about it. So:
How much can I expect to spend annually on a cat? Vet bills, spaying, declawing, medicine, etc.
What about maintenance? Do they spray the furniture? Can they be trained not to claw? How? Will there be tons of hair all over? Are hairballs a big problem?
Any particular breed to recommend? Boy or girl?
All advice is greatly appreciated.
The Devil's Grandmother
10-16-2000, 01:10 PM
I can’t tell you about every cat, but I can tell you about mine.
I once figured out that my charming little bundle of fluff cost about a dollar a day to feed and maintain. If I recall correctly, the things I was factoring in was
*food (He ate mostly canned, and Gerber’s meat baby foods. He was a spoiled little git)
*Vet bills (every fight was a minimum $100 vet bill. I will never, never, never, ever have a male cat again. However, he did not spray, as he had never been around another adult male and was castrated at a very early age.)
*Grooming (he was a long hair, and his mother was .... shall we say “uninterested” in her children. His only surviving litter mate was also slovenly and non-hunting.)
My advice? Get a short haired female kitten from a friend’s cat who has had successfully raised litters before. Do not get a kitten from a first time mother. Feed her dry food. Be firm (I’m a wussy when it come to guilt). Indoor cats get into fewer fights with other cats or with prey.
Your other questions:
Cats can be trained not to claw the furniture, and any other behavior as long as you are consistent. I don’t think cats should be declawed.
Hairballs are less of a problem with a shorthaired cat, especially if you brush it frequently. Brushing also helps the hair-around-the-house problem, but if you are a tidy person you will be vacuuming every week.
When you meet your potential kitten, see if it is curious and lively. I was told once to roll the kitten on its back and gently hold it down for a moment to see how aggressive it will get. I don’t know if that really works or not.
Good luck in your search.
If your cat is healthy (and that's a big if), plan to spend a couple of hundred a year on food, toys, vet bills. The two biggest expenses will be getting it declawed (ONLY if it's an indoor cat) and fixed. Declawing is the ONLY way to keep it from destroying your furniture. That, or get concrete furniture. It is less expensive to fix boy cats, so keep that in mind (they won't spray if you fix them before they're a year old).
If your cat is NOT healthy, plan to spend a lot more. One of my cats has a bum ticker and needs to be pilled twice a day (that also means having someone come in twice at day to pill her when I'm out of town!). "There is no free cat."
The heathiest breed seems to be "mutt." Less inbreeding. Keep in mind, the cat should die before you or your kid—can said kid deal with a potentially sick or dead kitty?
Caveat: if you get a male cat and have him neutered, he may still spray.
Our oldest cat (which we got when he was two) was OK until we got a female kitten. When she first went into heat, he started spraying, against the probability that he wouldn't. We got her spayed, and he stopped. Then he started again when my wife got pregnant and hasn't stopped since. (I'm hoping he will stop when my wife stops breast-feeding, as it's her hormones that are probably goading his territoriality.)
I would also suggest a short-haired cat. And for the sake of the cat, make sure your kid (daughter?) understands that a pet is not a toy. I've seen a lot of pets hurt because the kid was playing with it like he'd play with a GI Joe.
10-16-2000, 01:21 PM
Cats make a great pet. Let's look at some things:
Hair: Get a short-haired cat. With regular brushing, the hair will not be a terrible concern. Get a lint brush just in case. Check your family for allergies also. Short-haired cats are less reactive.
In Canada, to get a cat fixed costs about 100 dollars or so, excluding needles. Consult a local vet to get pricing in your area, and try to find one that specializes in just cats.
A fixed cat will usually not spray the furniture. We have three, and none of them do. Males tend to spray more, so I recommend females.
Declawing is from what I understand, injurous to a cat and should not be done.
Instead, teach them to claw an old piece of furniture or a scratching post before they get used to the good stuff. You can get repellant to keep them away from the good furniture.
As for breeds, they're all good, but keep in mind that persians tend to be less friendly than your standard mixed-breed.(at least the ones I've seen...) I strongly suggest that you go to the local animal shelter to obtain a cat. In Canada at least, they come with a coupon that inclused the spaying/neutering and will often already have first shots. These are the cats that need a good home.
Don't undertake unless you intend to be in for the long haul. I have seen cats live as long as 20 years.
If you aren't willing to put at least 10 years worth of care, I say skip it. The worst thing you can do is get a cat used to you and then get rid of it. Too many animals end up this way.
10-16-2000, 01:32 PM
Well, I took my cat to the vet about three and a half weeks ago for her annual checkup. Said checkup cost about USD 125 (I think that I have a breakdown of that, if you want it), and included one vaccination. The checkup also revealed that she had two broken teeth, and one that was so rotten that it might break off at any minute. So, she went back next week to have all extracted, at an additional cost of USD 150.
I don't know how much a spay operation is (my cat was abandoned, and was thus spayed long before we got her). My WAG is about USD 75-150; Michi probably has more accurate information than do I.
Feeding a cat costs about USD 0.25 - 0.50 daily, depending on the quality and amount of food. Dry food is cheaper than canned food of the same quality, but of course necessitates a higher water consumption. If you have heavily chlorinated tap water, your cat may refuse to drink it, and require bottled water (I do, and my cat does).
I strongly recommended against having your (hypothetical) cat declawed. If you have a one-cat household, it is totally unnecessary.
If the cat is spayed (or neutered) at a young age, it is unlikely to spray, especially if it is the only cat. Clawing the furniture will not be a significant problem. Get (or make) it a scratching post, and spend the money on a sturdy one; a cat will not use a post that wobbles if it brushes against it.
Cats do shed. Of course, so do dogs. Brush it (depending on the length of the coat) between daily and weekly, and hairballs and cat fur on the rug will not be a problem.
I recommend getting a cat from your local shelter. The cat will probably have a better personality, and the "basic maintenance" (spaying/neutering, vaccinations) will have been done or will be done, sometimes at a reduced rate. An improperly spayed female will have less of a chance of spraying than an improperly castrated male, but a properly neutered animal will have less chance than either. Fancy cats will seldom show up in a shelter, and probably aren't worth the extra money.
You may wish to look at the VetInfo site (http://www.vetinfo.com/; I'm having bad luck with URLs today), as well as the Purina Cat Info (http://catchow.com/emotion.asp) site. Remember that the VetInfo site gives pretty much everything that can go wrong with a cat, and may be a little alarming.
10-16-2000, 01:47 PM
I'm on the third and fourth cats of my life, not counting the several cats that various roommates have had. I've basically *always* had a cat around.
The newest addition, Teddy, is the first long hair I've ever had. They're WAY more work than a short hair cat. Must groom, must cut away matted hair, must clean more hair off the furniture. He's a beautiful cat, but definitely more work than a short hair.
My cats are declawed. Ardy is declawed because I got him when I was 18 and I pretty much thought I had to. Teddy is declawed because he was a stray and showed up that way. After living with a roommate's cat who wasn't declawed, I woudln't do it again. Seems that as long as you have a scratching post, the cat is easily trained to scratch on that, and not on the furniture. Note that all the cats are indoor/outdoor cats, and that may have something to do with why I never had problems with furniture - it might just be more fun to scratch stuff outside (like mice and birds and such). Lots o' people tell you never to let a declawed cat outside, but Ardy is 12, and Teddy (the stray) is somewhere between 5 & 10, and I've never had a problem.
Costs: I buy Science Diet (hi falutin' cat food) and it costs me about $25/month to feed the two kitties. Purina Cat Chow is cheaper, and the only difference I can see is that the kitties like it better, but they puke more. And that brings us to the next problem - cat puke. Cats puke. Some more than others, but I think it's pretty much guaranteed that if you have a cat, at some point you are going to be cleaning up cat puke. Anywhere from once a week to once every couple months. If you get a once a week puker, you get very used to cleaning up cat puke.
Never had a cat spray.
Annual exams are around $60 - $100 per cat.
When cats get older, things start going to hell. Ardy currently gets ulcers in his mouth that cause him to excessively groom himself. That results in little piles of fur all over the house and much puke-age. Fixing him involves a monthly trip to the vet. Ardy gets in car, yowls for the first 3 minutes of the ten minute car ride. Then he shits. Then he pukes. Get to vet - clean up cat carrier. Get $60 shot. Put Ardy back in now-clean cat carrier. Start driving home. Ardy yowls, Ardy makes retching noises trying to puke but there's not much left. Ardy pisses. We get home, Ardy hides under couch for 24 hours. I clean cat carrier yet again. This happens without any change every four weeks. That's the bad part of having cats.
Can't tell much difference in behavior between male & female cats. In fact, I was under the impression that Teddy was a girl for the first year I had him. He just seemed to, well, act girly. Turns out he's a boy. Oh well.
10-16-2000, 01:51 PM
You've already gotten some excellent advice. How old is your child and has he/she had a pet before? Kittens are very fun to play with, but they do scratch and bite if manhandled and they're so cute that it's very hard not to pick them up all the time, so a kitten may not be a good pet for a child under the age of six or so.
I spend about $75 a year on vet bills for my younger, healthier cat. I prefer not to think about how much the 15-year-old costs per year, but it's...well, it's more. I suggest you feed your kitten a premium dry food like Science Diet or whatever the vet recommends in order to prevent the development of physical problems later.
You'll need to kitten-proof the house. Strings, yarn, twist-ties, and balloons can all kill a kitten if it swallows them. There will probably be a time (usually when it's between 4 and 6 months old) that you regret ever getting a kitten and wonder why on earth you ever invited this little whirlwind into your home, but then you've got a child, so you should be familiar with the feeling. It passes.
There is a lot of disagreement over declawing. The operation can deform a cat's paws or lead to severe infection, so I'd rather chance some frayed furniture instead. The scratching post advice above is good; you'll also want to be sure the post is tall enough that the cat can stretch out to its full length to scratch.
A kitten from your local humane society is likely to be the healthiest choice. Pet store kittens tend to start out sick. Choose a kitten without eye or nose discharge or diarrhea. Its fur should look fluffy and it should be reasonably playful. I like Siamese mix cats, but they're talkative and opinionated cats, so if you're not a "cat person," you might not like one. Your kitten should react well to being handled by everyone in the family, and if you find one that snuggles and purrs while you're looking at it, take it home.
Good advice on cat-proofing the house. I grew up with cats (and was raised by wolves, by the way) and to this day I will pick up a rubber band or paper clip from the floor where ever I am, "so the cat doesn't get it."
On declawing: I couldn't declaw mine because of Dorothy's bum ticker, and I sorely regret it. Declawing is neither harmful nor cruel to indoor cats, and note that many, many cats CANNOT BE TRAINED NOT TO CLAW FURNITURE. Lillian—good little girl that she is—only scratches the scratching post. Dorothy—insane evil cat from hell—scratches the furniture simply because she knows it annoys me. She laughs at the strongest cat repellent, and thinks the water pistol game is fun.
10-16-2000, 02:11 PM
I will second, or third, those who mention shelter kitties - I have one, many of my friends have one, they make GREAT, and grateful pets. If you look in the classifieds of the paper you will often find people who foster pets for animal shelters or people whose cats got knocked up advertising free kittens - also an excellent way to find one. The good thing about the Humane society is that the cat will come to you neutered and with basic vaccinations that are covered by the adoption fee - $50-$75.
Humane Society will make you sign a form promising that you won't declaw and that you will keep the cat indoors.
Train kitty to scratch only acceptable objects (scratching post, scratching pad) RIGHT AWAY. I recommend both a post and a mat or pad right outside the litter box. Use a squirt-bottle filled with H20 (you can add a little white vinegar to make it extra unpleasant) to keep it off furniture, countertops, etc. Be consistent when training!
Vet bills can be HUGE, but I've minimized them by signing up for animal health insurance through my vet. Feeding, grooming, toys etc. don't add up to much. Litter can get expensive, but I'm really anal about changing it often - I tried the scoopable kind but the charm of digging for buried treasure wore off.
I was never a cat person as a child (we used to raise Great Danes) but I have been converted by my little pain-in-the-ass who sleeps on my feet and demands attention all the time. :)
10-16-2000, 02:28 PM
I have cats and dogs. The single most intractable, evil, obnoxious and destructive animal I have ever lived with is a cat. And the mellowest, least destructive animal I have ever lived with is also a cat.
Do not declaw unless you are willing to live with an indoor cat for the rest of its life. I am not, so I live instead with destroyed furniture and other items.
The stink from a cat box is enough to knock you off your feet...and this is from a catbox that has been cleaned as little as 24 hours earlier.
Do NOT GET A MALE KITTY! If you do not fix them fast enough, or maybe even if you do, they will spray. And frankly, I'd almost rather own a skunk.
My evil kitty is the hairball kitty, and it's a seasonal thing. But when that season comes, watch out. She refuses to barf hairballs on anything except delicate electronic equipment.
Can you tell I'm not crazy about cats? Particularly my own.
Dogs....well, let me just say this: a home isn't a home without a dog in it.
I would suggest adopting an adult cat from your local shelter. It will make you feel better that you kept some animal from being euthanized and usually the shelter will spay or neuter the animal before they let you take it home.
I have such a cat (a female) and she had her share of medical problems (urinary infections and flaky skin), but after about five years, I finally found a vet who figured out what the cause was and now I have a happy, healthy cat.
Overall, I think I've spent about $2500 on my cat in the past ten years for vet bills, but most of that was in two big chunks. Food only costs about a buck a day and my cats eats a special diet (hypo-allergenic).
You don't need to declaw your cat. Mine is indoors and never claws the furniture. I gave her a scratching post and she took it to immediately. Perhaps I'm just fortunate.
As for litter boxes, they don't smell that bad if you maintain them and use some baking soda or cedar chips in them. A smelly litter box not only annoys the humans in the house, but also the cat as well.
The only behavior problems with my cat have been health-related. Normally my cat is well-behaved. The only time it starts to act out is if it is sick. I've had to give her little kitty anti-anxiety drugs at times.
10-16-2000, 03:55 PM
yes, kitties, go for short hair (mentioned before), shelter (more on that), not baby kitty (but maybe not full adult, either) go for a mutt vs. pure bred (I've had both, yes, the pure bred did fine, but they can have more health problems).
A fixed female is easier than a fixed male. IMHO.
Now, the shelter thing.
If the shelter is any good, they have you fill out a questionairre and talk to you before you walk out with kitty.
My brother (the Yuppie personified) decided to go this route, took his 2 darling daughters there (wife had to be elsewhere). During the questioning, it came out that : they'd been unsuccessful with hamsters, gerbils, a ferret. Had 2 cats run away years ago. Wife was elsewhere. Children were young and, well, children.
The shelter decided my brother's family was a poor risk. they left kittyless.
10-16-2000, 04:34 PM
there are so many variations on how to keep a cat - you can just ask the vet for recommendations or buy a book or pick any suggested here. you'll learn from your mistakes no matter what. our first cat we had declawed, then he became an outdoor cat. he did ok with it for 13 years, but ended up dying from feline leukemia - we probably didn't have him vaccinated for it - big mistake.
i like the claws on, outdoor variety. imho, keeping your cat indoors is pretty lame for the cat. safe, but lame. i have a scratching post and an old chair i bought at a thrift shop for my cat to scratch when he's inside. you can also trim claws to make them less damaging - i used to do that when my cat was an indoor kitten. ask your vet to show you how.
if you have a 'vetsmart' (petsmart's vet) in your area, you can put the cat on a wellness plan for about 9 bucks a month that will cover all office visits, vaccinations, and discounts on medicine and medical procedures. i would definitely recommend it if your cat is sickly or he gets into fights often.
10-16-2000, 04:45 PM
As far as scratching goes, our indoor cat has all her claws, and never scratches the furniture. We use cardboard scratching pads, which she loves, and in the beginning, we found aluminum foil to work on corners of the furniture she liked to scratch. It makes your house "shiny" for a while, but we've found it to be worth it.
10-16-2000, 04:46 PM
The 1st link will take you to a cat shelter (Grateful Paw) web page and provide email links to people you can ask your question to. One that I work with and I know they can answer your question. The second will allow you to search local shelters in your area for cats/kittens (and other animals) by zip code some even have pictures of the cats. They started in the northeast and have gone national, don't know how many they have outside the northeast though.
10-16-2000, 07:45 PM
I agree about getting a mutt; they're better tempered and healthier than purebreds.
That said, if said child wants a Persian, be aware that they (purebreds, at least) can have severe breathing problems because of the flat face. Often they have to have surgery as kittens to open up their nasal passages.
I have three cats, all acquired as kittens, and all were fairly easily trained to a scratching post. None of them bothers the furniture. This despite the fact that one of them was used to clawing my aunts sofa before I got him.
All three are indoor cats only and have been since they were little and it doesn't bother them a speck. My family had a beautiful persian cat when I was a child that was poisoned by someone/something in the neighborhood so since then I don't let my animals run loose. Why take such a chance with dear friends? (I'm sure the birdies thank me too.)
Just keep in mind that all animals vary in personality and temperament just like people do. After all, think of how broad a spectrum your friends and acquaintances cover. (Well.. mine don't even make a decent rainbow, so mayhap that's not the best example.)
10-16-2000, 09:26 PM
I have a Maine Coon who was 1.5 yr when he came from the shelter in '95. They are known to be smart and for a fabulous personality, which in my experience is true. The MC does have a long, silky fur that is not prone to the hair mats that the Persian had. I brush him every now and then in the summer, and give him those hairball Pounce treats and...no hairballs for the most part. He's never sprayed.
Last year I got a second kitty (8 mos) from the shelter. She's adorable, but not too bright. Shorter fur. This is the youngest cat I've had and watch-out. It's like an infant; she'll put anything in her mouth. She also moves at one speed: supersonic. Okay, so this isn't much new for you.
Declawing: Both mine are declawed. This is an issue that people feel very strongly about. I'll be happy to email you my thinking. I live in a high-rise and the only Outdoors that they ever see is when the "escape" into the hallway. The warning here is that there is such a thing as a Feline High-Rise Syndrome. Cats may like heights, but they can fall from them too. Just last week someone on the 20th floor had their cat fall. Amazing, just broke one leg. I can tell you that cats reach their terminal velocity after 5 stories (60 mph).
Try this: Go to the library and check-out a book on cats. One with all the color pictures. Find the ones you like the looks of and then read about the personalities/behaviors particular to that breed. It will also mention if they are good indoor cats or not. [I think they all should be kept indoors.] I found I was partial to Maine Coons, Ragdolls and Birmans. ANYWAY, with that knowledge, go to the shelter and you will likely find what you are looking for. It can help you identify mutts that might fit the bill. Many purebreds also show up there, but I also believe they have a shorter life span.
This is the first time I've had more than one feline. Two isn't much more trouble than one, but I think more than 3 is pushing friends' believe in one's sanity. See: Too many cats? (http://www.thecatshouse.com/html/cats_house.html)
10-16-2000, 09:28 PM
I won't repeat the great advice you have been given above, but I did want to offer some advice on the declawing issue.
Like virtually all of the people who have posted, I think declawing is cruel and unneccessary. I have had terrific success with these cardboard box thingies that you can find for about $7 that have catnip in the folds of the cardboard. The cat stands on the box and scratches away. Unlike posts, it cannot tip over, so the cat feels nice and secure. Plus they are cheaper and take up less room than the posts.
Enjoy the kitten!!!
10-16-2000, 11:38 PM
Get an alley cat or rescue a pound inmate, shooting for 6 months ideal age.
If you live in a rural or semi-rural setting and happen to have picked a male, let your cat roam. He will never spray indoors (they do it to mark territory and will mark exterior items as territorial markers instead). But if the place is thickly populated with cats, you'll get cat fights and vet bills. And, of course, if you live in the vicinity of a busy street or a fast highway, figure in the likelihood of a shortened life due to roadkill risk.
If you picked a female, seek out and find a vet who will do the more expensive and unusual feline tubal ligation operation without scooping her hormonally active parts. Let her roam; she won't get into fights very often, will claim a comparably smaller territory as her own, and will be a fine-mannered kitty when not in heat. Whereas if you scoop her innards you are...oh, I dunno, let's say 38% likely to end up with a neurotic cat who yowls and bites and hides from people and gets very very fat. Actually, if you are truly rural (like North Dakota or something) and have a male cat, think of having him done as a vasectomy, he'll be better company too; but he'll try to carve out a much wider territory and will fight with other male cats if there are a lot of them around, and the vet bills can add up. (Still, I did it in Long Island and would do it again).
Don't declaw your cats. It's like poking their eyes out or something, declawed cats are pathetic to watch.
10-16-2000, 11:57 PM
I've had many kitties over the years, all mutts from shelters, mostly altered males. Every single one has been wonderful, each in his own way. And yes, a few with problems, but that's what makes them unique.
I think it's a mistake to have only one cat, especially if it's an always-indoor animal, and especially if left alone during the day. People think cats are "independent," but nothing can be further from the truth. They need companionship, and they need to give and receive lots of affection, and without it they can be as lonely as the rest of us.
Also, watch to see how your kid plays with the cat. Kids do things to animals like pulling their tails or hitting them or hugging them too tight. And the cat can't tell you that he's got a broken tail or dislocated ribs.
10-17-2000, 12:20 AM
< sigh > I just lost a cat to bone cancer so keep in mind that animals are not a lifetime thing...
Anyhow, both my cats are basic tabbies...er both of them are and were.
If they are indoor kitties I don't see any reason to get annual shots. I have a 13 year old female that has not had a shot since she was fixed at age six. She seems healthy and happy as she always has been except for the fact that my male cat is no longer here with us so she is a little blue.
Anyhow, cats can be very wild (depending on the cat) when you first get them as kittens. Anything that is claw worthy is game in your house. Curtains can become an acrobatic nightmare and couches a good alternative to a tree.
That said, if you train a cat right they will leave your furniture alone and I believe strongly that declawing is a very inhumane act. It is no more than amounting to removing their little claws to the first knuckle of a human hand, so I have heard. I was not brought up in a household that believes in declawing so for me I wont do it, ever. My cat is more important than my furniture which is why I have futons instead of real couches. Oh and scratching posts do work well as well as aluminum foil tacked to strategic areas of your couch.
To avoid behavior problems, trust me this happens in male and female alike, have your cat spade or neutured at 6 months or so. If you move a lot spraying may still be a problem as it was with my male cat but he got over that once I got a dog, oddly enough.
Anyhow, despite some of the issues that come up with owning any animal they are a great source of joy and love. I can't imagine my life without my animals and would have more if I could.
10-17-2000, 07:59 AM
There is a lot of excellent advice here, and I'll add my voice to those who have said that "mutt" cats are a pretty safe bet. I've always owned that kind and our current two were born in the barn of a friend's farm--they couldn't get a much more common beginning than that.
On the subject of declawing, I have to say that I disagree with it. I've never owned a declawed cat, and the furniture has never suffered--when they're young, train them with an attractive alternative to furniture. We've had great luck with scratching posts that we can rub raw catnip in. Compared to that, the sofa is pretty bland and unexciting.
A vet once told me that the declawing procedure involves amputating the cat's finger at the first joint--the same as if your finger was removed at the joint just aft of your fingernail. They remove the part of the finger that grows the claw, in other words, since they cannot remove the claw permanently any more than you can have your fingernails removed permanently, except by amputation. I've never been able to confirm this in anything I've read--anybody know if it's true?
10-17-2000, 08:26 AM
My experience with cats (I have a 9-year old mix breed)...
Annual vet bills - $0 (I suppose I should take the cat to the vet one of these days.)
Spaying/neutering - one time bill ($150?). Seems cruel, but it will make life much easier for you (especially if it will be an indoor-only cat...there's nothing subtle about a female cat in heat).
Declawing - I did not have this done. BTW, this can only be done when the cat is young. Many people consider this cruel.
Annual medicine bills - $0
Spraying - only male cats do this
Scratching - expect it...rugs, furniture. I'm constantly battling this. I try to encourage scratching certain things (scratching posts, a certain invulnerable rug, etc.) and discourage scratching everything else. I think the cat understands but scratches the wrong stuff anyway to get attention or show me it pissed off.
Cats can be trained, but not easily. They are not pack animals, like dogs, that respond to group efforts/commands.
Hair - yes, you'll find it everywhere. Get a short-haired cat if its a problem. If not, just keep brushing your cat to collect the loose hairs before they shed.
Hairballs - rarely
Gender - personally, I'd recommend a female cat because they tend to be ok keeping to a small area. Male cats like to roam.
Cats need less attention than dogs (I've had dogs too), but they still need loving attention from their favorite human(s) (cats do seem to imprint on certain people more than others).
10-17-2000, 08:35 AM
Let me tell you of my adventures in cat ownership.
I tried to find a healthy kitten, and no such luck. Apparently if you desire a kitten you need to find one in the right season.
The Humane Society was a bunch of cruel jerks. They would just direct people to the basement to look at cats. When I finally picked a nice healthy young cat, they tell me that one was already spoken for. No signs or special cages to distinguish what cats were already spoken for. Its downright evil to play with people's heartstrings like that.
The Pet Refuge was no help with kittens. Most of what they had were full-grown cats, some with medical problems (i.e. overweight and needed special food).
I even went to pet stores and no luck there either. They told me that I needed to shop in the right season to get a kitten.
Through a friend of a friend, I got a young female cat for free. She was a companion for an old man that passed away. It cost about $160 to have her fixed, vaccinated, and declawed (the landlord requires it, along with a $200 non-refundable pet deposit). So basically she is a $350 “free” cat.
Being a DSH (Domestic Short Hair), she is easy to take care of. She eats plain ‘ol Cat Chow, but occasionally I give her a treat of a little tuna. She grooms herself well.
She is an independent kitty, and only likes to be petted occasionally. If you pet her too long, she nips at you. Experts have told me that “PMS kitties” are rather common among females.
One habit I can’t seem to break her of is defecating in the corners of the living room. In fact today I noticed she was in the corner and she looked me right in the eye while she was doing it. I use all the right sprays and cleaners, but she keeps going back to the same corners. One of the corners is near a door so I can’t block it with anything.
In summary, a cat is expensive and a pain. They are independent creatures that are not of this earth. Still my cat makes for pleasant company and a good laugh every now and then. So she does do wonders for lowering my stress (most of the time).
10-17-2000, 09:15 AM
If you like to wear black, don't get a white cat. If you like to wear white, don't get a black cat. I have two himalayans and one burmese and I pretty much have to stay naked all the time.
10-17-2000, 10:33 AM
I even went to pet stores and no luck there either. They told me that I needed to shop in the right season to get a kitten.
Though thisis mostly true, if you are persistent, you can usually find cats even when they aren't "in season." Not all cats are born in the spring. Our cat was born in October, so we got her sometimes in November.
That said, you did the right thing by taking in a cat whose owner had passed away. There are too many unwanted animals out there already. Good job on making that number one less. :)
10-17-2000, 10:38 AM
The best way to pick out a cat, I've found, is not to go after a particular breed, but to go down to the SPCA and find one you fall in love with. It is unlikely to take more than one trip. They'll usually let you interact with the cats outside the cage, and get one who has the sort of personality you enjoy. When we met our cat at the shelter
as a kitten she liked a lot of attention and was playful and aggressive, not afraid to use tooth and claw, and not much of a cuddler. Her personality has not noticably altered--she'd be a rotten cat for your family, but the sun rises and sets in her litter box as far as my husband and I are concerned. : )
I've ended up on the no-declaw side of the debate since the vet we chose told us flat out that if we wanted her declawed we'd have to go to another veteranarian. We clip her claws weekly, just taking the ends off so they aren't sharp. This hasn't saved our couch, but it does mean she can "sharpen" her claws on bare wood without scratching it up, and she can play rough with us without hurting us. If you have really nice furniture that you're very attatched to and you're not willing to go to extensive lengths to protect it and/or be very firm about training, well . . . if it's a choice between declawing or just not getting a cat, consider declawing, I suppose. As far as training goes, I've found it's easy to train a cat TO do something. It's almost impossible to train a cat NOT to do something. And it definitely helps to start with a kitten. Grown cats are the stubbornest creatures on Earth.
I recommend against expensive catfood. We feed ours Purina Cat Chow, bought in a 50 lb bag, and she's very healthy with a lovely shiny coat. Unless your cat turns out to have health problems, feed 'em Chow. Bottom line: your cat is not happiest eating what you want to eat--as I'm sure you know if you've watched one eat a fly with great gusto. The stuff in the can is perversly made appealing to the human, and the cat will eat it and enjoy it, but this stuff is high in calories, and will lead to tooth problems, especially if you don't feed the cat dry food as well. Again, feed them a consistent diet starting in kitten-hood.
We just drop $40 a year on vet visits (a little extra for shots), except the time she blew out her knee--the same injury football players get when they're tackled from the side. We have no idea how she did it. We were in the house when it happened. Anyway, $400 for surgery to fix it. Of course we payed it without thinking twice. So that is something to keep in mind, especially when there's a kid involved.
Definitely spay/neuter, not just for your own convenience, but because there are already too many unwanted kittens in the world. If this is a serious financial hardship, oftentimes the SPCA can pay part of the cost--or you can look for a cat that's already been de-gendered. ; )
Sheesh, I meant to just offer a few peices of advice. I guess us cat people are pretty passionate about it. JOIN US! JOIN US!
10-17-2000, 10:59 AM
Podkayne writes: The stuff in the can is perversly made appealing to the human
Not perversely at all; the human is buying it, not the cat :)
the cat will eat it and enjoy it, but this stuff is high in calories
No, I think that the dry food is more calorific (it contains less water).
On a dry weight basis, canned food may be more calorific as it can be higher in fat. It is certainly more palatable to the cat (and more expensive). Unless there are medical reasons for feeding a specific food (and do not assume that, if it's good for a sick cat, it must also be good for a healthy one), however, feed whatever fits into the budget.
I've got a 1 year old male tabby that I got from the SPCA. He's been great. He's not declawed, and he does NOT scratch the furniture. He scratches his 'Cat Condo' and sometimes his scratching post. Basically, we trained him that our furniture is not a scratching post by squirting him with water when he tried it. He hasn't gone near the couch for scratching in a long time. I think that declawing is pretty cruel...just look for some websites with pictures of it. It's not a simple procedure...they no-so-surgically remove the entire front joint on each of the cat's paws. Declawed cats are in pain for up to a month after the surgury, and sometimes will not use the litterbox because it hurts to paw at it. Not only that, but since their primary defense is gone, many declawed cats bite a lot...and hard, with little provocation. Not all, but a lot.
There is an alternative called SoftPaws (www.softpaws.com) that cap the nails so your furniture is safe. I've used them, and they're kind of a pain to put on, but not too bad. I think we're going to stop using them because our cat just isn't scratching the furniture any more...so there's really no need. He scratches his post and cat condo, and that's it. But, with the SoftPaws, when he does try to scratch anything, it's like scratching it little vinyl nubs...no damage. :)
The only problem we have with our cat is that he likes to have us up at 5:00 AM. Every morning. He's not too hungry, or in pain, or anything...he's just wide awake, and he wants us up then...so he'll bug us until we get up, or put him in his back room.
10-17-2000, 12:44 PM
I have loved cats all my life. I currently have two - a male siamese mix (mutt) and a female calico (mutt-like, not a real calico). Both are fixed and neither is declawed. I used to work at a vet and watched a declawing. If you don't want to chance the furniture getting torn up, don't get the cat. You knew you had a couch when you got the cat, don't punish the cat for doing what comes natural.
Everyone has given excellent advice about scratching, etc... the only thing I have to add is about the litter box.
I have always fed cats whatever seemed ok (cat chow, purina one, the regular stuff). I clean the litter box alot but it still smells like a poop bomb. I switched to Eukanuba recently (about $1 per pound) and it has cut down on the smell tremendously. Any of the Ol' Roy crap is going to smell bad coming out. While the grocery store brands are fine and healthy for cats, the high prices stuff is going to help with the poop. Also - I shelled out $100.00 for a self-cleaning litter box. When the cat poops, it waits ten minutes and scoops for us. We just have to throw away the container (which has a lid). This is also better since I am preg. and cat feces carries a virus that will cause a miscarriage (toxoplasmosis). It has been worth every penny to me.
If you have any specific questions I may be able to answer you can e-mail me. I am not an expert but I have had about a million cats.
P.S. Desdemona - I am so jealous! I love Maine Coons. I have always wanted one but they are so exp. and I can't find one at the shelter. Don't tell my cats I said that, okay? Oh, God, they heard me. Run!
Spectre of Pithecanthropus
10-17-2000, 02:02 PM
We have several cats, of which one is in the habit of jumping up on our bed in the small hours, and nipping or
nuzzling my beard, or my earlobe, and giving plaintive little grunts like a baby rhino, when something in his little kitty world needs attention: e.g. the bottom of the
food bowl has become visible. He never goes after my wife because she wears earplugs and won't wake up. So if you get
a cat you will probably want to train it from the very start
to stay out of the bedrooms.
Originally posted by ellykat
This is also better since I am preg. and cat feces carries a virus that will cause a miscarriage (toxoplasmosis).
Actually Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoon, not a virus. Not all cats carry it. ('Scuse the pedantry, it's a disease.)
10-17-2000, 08:07 PM
cats: get a kitten, 10>12 weeks, no younger. Best source is a freind with kittens, next try "want ads" for free or cheap kittens, next is SPCA/Humane soc. Get a shorthair, a "mutt". Ferkrisakes don't get one of the wierd breeds like persians with their pushed-in noses. Have the child help pick out, they "bond" better. Don't give as Xmas gift on Xmas.
Unless you live in the country, have the cat be 100% (and I mean this- very important) inside cat, unless in a screened patio or an a leash. Indoor cats live MUCH longer, and have lower vet bills.
There are 2 products that will cut way down on hairballs- Nutrimalt (which every cat I have had thinks is Kitty ambrosia, and makes for a heathier coat, thus less shedding- give daily), and Petromalt, which helps the hairballs "pass-thru" (give weekly, after she gets older)- we have 3 cats, and not a hairball for over 3 months. Brushing with a 'slicker brush" helps also.
I recommend a "premium" dry cat food, left out, all they want, and the equivilant of one small 3oz can (for kittens, this would be split) once a day, for "dinnertime".
Get them neutered as soon as your vet says so. Get the kitten shots from your vet, but there are "low cost" innoculation "clinics", where you can get the rest of the shots. If males are fixed early, they do not spray.
"Declawing": with trimming of little claws, and scratching posts- it should not be nessesary. Wait and see. We have never had to do it.
Do not "play rough" with the kitten, (with your hands). But, the more playing, the smarter the kitten.
10-17-2000, 08:56 PM
if you have a young child, it's probably not a good idea to get a cat atleast for a while. cats clean themselves by licking their fur. their soliva dries and turns into flakes that can be rubbed off and float into the air. these dried flakes can be inhaled and cause asthma. i have friends that have asthma due to this reason. i have 2 cats of my own and i haven't had any respitory problems. as for cost of living. it's a good idea to neuter or spay your cat. i did mine at the humane society. they do quality work and are VERY affordable. try and get your cat to regularly eat dry food. they prefer star shaped food. wet food usually make my cats stink up the litter box. as for scratching, buy a scratching post. most companys put catnip in the post to promote scatching there.that's all the advice i have to give. i made a thread about cat's peeing and what advice to give to keep them from peeing on my couch. check it out.
10-18-2000, 12:39 AM
I don't think the so-called spit flakes can CAUSE asthma. They may trigger an underlying condition--(known as a challenge). The dander from the skin is much more likely to be an allergen than the saliva. Bathing the cat can help with this.
Believe me, if cat saliva caused asthma, drug companies would be supplying everyone in the world with free kitties!
Thank you to everyone for the advice!
10-18-2000, 12:48 PM
Watch out that any new cat does not have skin fungus. I acquired a beautiful, long-haired kitten at a PetSmart/Humane Society adoption center. She was very lovable and snuggly until she started losing large flakes of her skin with fur attached.
I rushed her to the vet and, several weeks and many, many scratches from giving her pills later, her skin cleared up. However, to this day, she cannot hardly stand to be touched. Her skin is clear and her coat is shiny and healthy looking. She just seems to be very ticklish. So, no more snuggles or stroking that lovely fur.
She had had ringworm. None of the family caught it from her. I had more than one cat at the time and had to dose them all.
I've had many, many cats over the years. I currently have five. All were fixed at around 6 months and I have declawed the ones that wouldn't leave the furniture alone. All are strictly indoor kitties. Had one get out and he was hit by a car before I could find him. I still miss him.
If you ever have to give a pill to a cat, get something called a 'pill gun' from your vet. You put the pill in one end, put that end in the cat's mouth, push the plunger in the other end of the gun and the pill pops out and down their throat. Helps if you grab them by the back of the neck and lift slightly. They sort of "Zen" out and don't fight. Wish I'd known this when I had to dose Friskey (my daughter named her :o ) for her ringworm!!
10-18-2000, 03:21 PM
Originally posted by momcat
Watch out that any new cat does not have skin fungus.
She had had ringworm. None of the family caught it from her. I had more than one cat at the time and had to dose them all.
If you get a cat, expecially from the SPCA, especially if you have other pets, I highly recommend that your first stop, before you even take it home, should be the vet. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, and for the love of God do not put it down on the carpet. ;)
The vet can catch a lot of diseases before you get the kitty home where it can spread it around the house, and it will most likely have fleas, so best to get the flea stuff right off the bat.
If you adopt a cat from many shelters, especially no-kill shelters, you can bring the cat back if there are problems. The one I volunteer with is like that.
There is a lot of info at this site:
One way to reduce vet bills is to keep the cat indoors only. This cuts out the fights, fleas or ticks, poisoning, being hit by cars, and other outdoor dangers. This site has more info: http://home.HiWAAY.net/~keiper/indoors.htm
You might want to consider getting an older cat (read: not a kitten). They aren't as hyper usually, and many have already developed all of their behaviors that you would want to know about. They are already trained, many times.
Male cats are a bit more affectionate usually, and are cheaper to have 'fixed'. Females aren't as likely to spray but are more expensive to 'fix'. Doing this has a lot of benefits:
Good luck! Be sure to check out that petfinder link metioned in a previous message... a lot of the pets there are really nice and already trained.
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