Cat owners: Educate a dog person.

I plan on getting an apartment soon, and I may be able to have a pet. Thing is, I’m not as mobile as I used to be so a dog’s inability to fathom a litterbox may mean that I will be considering a cat instead. Problem is, I know very little about cats, and most of my cat lore is academic.

Tell me about cat ownership What does a dog person need to know in order to provide a good home for a feline companion? What should a first-timer be looking for in a feline friend? And so on. (See I don;t even know what questions to ask.)

There’s a lot more responsibility involved with taking care of a dog. So since your a former dog owner taking care of a cat will be a breeze. A cat’s main acitivity is sleeping they do a lot of it. Cat’s are very independent when it wants your attention you’ll know it. Cat’s believe you work for them, dogs are the opposite.

Some of this advice are no-brainers but I’ll go over them anyways. Of course you’ll need the basics like litter and food. Keep their food a good distance away from their litter box. They like a clean litter box clean it out every day, fresh food and water.

Investing in a scratching post is a good idea and some toys to entertain them once and awhile feather on a stick sort of thing. Very little in the way of grooming has to be done, long haired cats are the exception. Even then most cats enjoy a good brushing. For the sake of your furniture and carpets if you can get your cat used to you cutting their nails and not the vet this can save you some head-aches. Start them young. Becarefull as to not cut their nails to short, their nails contain veins and will bleed if you hit the vein.

Do that and you should have a happy cat.

One thing about kittens. They’re cute and all that but it doesn’t last long once they’ve become adult cats their personality is pretty much set in stone. Once that kicks you may end up with a skittish cat, clingy cat, cat that doesn’t like to be picked up or a down right mean bastard.

So if you want a cat what you with good personality traits. You may want to adopt a young adult cat that is couple of years old. Go to the shelter or how ever you plan to get one and spend some time with it. Their personality for what you’ll be stuck with for the next 10-20 years should reveal itself.

In my experience with cats at home and my current two, you need a litter box, a food dish, a water dish, and the ability to play with them a couple of times a day - not a lot more than that.

To get a cat, my suggestion would be to head over to the local Humane Society and do a little shopping - take some cats out in a room and get to know them, and see if any seem interesting. A kitten will be a ball of energy and want to play endlessly; a six-month or so old will still want to play a lot, but be less high energy and high maintenance. An adult cat should be much more settled down and need less constant monitoring and attention.

Perhaps have two cats, preferably of different genders, that are raised together from a young age.

My experience has been that getting a cat into the home of a cat that’s used to being alone can create conflict. Also, I used to have a mother who gave birth to kittens. We kept one female and two male kittens. The mother never had a problem with her adult male offspring. She would attack her adult daughter often and with a lot of aggressivity. Not, I-want-you-to-leave-me-along-for-a-while aggressivity but rather I-want-to-kill-you aggressivity. It wasn’t pretty and I had to get rid of the mother.

But two cats can be play partners, sleep nuzzled into each other and keep each other company.
Perhaps you can have a look at wikipedia or other websites that give you information about the temperaments of cat breeds. Individuals vary from what’s typical of their breed, but it’s broadly reliable.
Blowing into a cat’s face is an effective way to displease it. Adding a stern “NO” will also get it to associate unpleasantness with that word.
As for whether you should keep it indoors, click my name and look through a thread I started about whether to keep them in doors or not.
Keep a clean litter and don’t just have a thin layer. Cats may decide to boycott their litter if it isn’t to their taste. They’re smart enough to realize that your bed is a prized posession of yours and leave a sign of protest on it.

Another data point - female cats don’t have the same kind of urinary problems that male cats can have. They also don’t spray to mark territory. Their spaying surgery is more complicated, but I think they’re easier in the long run to have as pets. (I expect serious dissent from the cohabitational humans of boy cats. :slight_smile: )

Clean the shit out every day with a scooper. Replace the litter completely and wash out the pan once a week. That’s worked for me with one cat. More cats or less cleaning will wind up leaving you surprises here and there.

Absolutely true. Kittens are delightful. They require constant attention if you don’t want them to carry bad habits (such as fighting with speaker wires) into adulthood. Even with an adult cat, you need to be prepared to give it attention. Playing is good, teaching them to be groomed is good. But, certainly, not as much (or as active) attention as a dog requires.

I would ask myself, what kind of animal am I looking for. Kittens are SO cute, but you don’t know about their personalities. Adult cats are more set in their ways and easy to scope out.

Are you looking for a lap cat? A cat that just wants to be petted a couple times a day then left alone? It’s nicer to adopt an older cat if you can as they don’t get the chance as often as the kittens.

As others said, if you feed them and clean their litter box, and give them a window to look out of they are pretty much happy.

Cats LOVE to be up high. So if you can fix a shelf for Mr Cat to sleep on he will take to it right away. I used to have it fixed so the cap could hop on dresser, hop on file cabinet, hop on shelf. Then once up there she could survey the entire room.

This helps a lot with cleaning as the cat would almost always go there and the hair stayed there. I also bought a bunch of baby (felt) blankets at the thrift store. The cat LOVED them. I put one on the couch or up on her shelf and she would only sleep on it. That helped a lot with the hair as you could just toss it in the laundry and put down a clean baby blanket.

Cats should be brushed too. Whether your cat will let you do this is another thing, but they need to be brushed. Don’t pet the cat backwards. Although other members on this board say their cat likes it, I personally have never met a cat that likes to be petted against the grain :slight_smile:

So the best thing to do is decide WHAT YOU WANT from a cat. Then go to a shelter and see. The shelter people can give you a good idea of the personality of the cat.

I’ve had both male and female cats, and I agree that (even fixed) females are easier.

I forgot to mention in my last post, that cats are entirely worthwhile pets. They’re fun, they mostly enjoy being around their human, but they ARE NOT dogs. If you’re expecting your cat to come when called, or to wait until the command to start eating, you’ve got another think coming.

Get two cats. In spite of what you’ve heard about cats’ independence, they are very sociable and benefit from having a companion. If nothing else, they can groom each other. There have been times when I only had one cat (due to the other’s death), and there’s a noticeable difference.

Also, don’t get a kitten. Yes they’re cute, but they can also be incredibly destructive. And don’t rule out getting an older one. A few years ago I adopted a 7-year-old, and he’s the best cat I ever had.

Psh. You can train cats to do anything a dog can do if you work at it. My cats come when called much more reliably than my dogs. I have two of each, and they are not really that different in their care, except that the dogs need to be walked and the cat’s shitboxes need to be cleaned.

Pick a cat or kitten with the personality you like. There are plenty of cats out there with ‘dog-like’ personalities (like my younger cat), just as there are independent, ‘cat-like’ dogs (like my older dog).

My cats both come when called, too - I tuna-trained them. If they think there’s going to be tuna involved, they come running. :slight_smile:

Cats can indeed be trained. Mine have been trained to stay off areas where we eat and prepare food. Sure, they get on them when I’m not around, but rarely in front of me, and that’s all I ask. We can leave a plate of food somewhere and not come back to a cat snout in it.

Sure. But, dogs will come when called, and it has nothing to do with teaching them the word tuna, or firing up the can opener. Cats will come when ready, and that may or may not be when they are called. They can’t be trained like dogs can.

I’ve had cats. I’ve had good cats–loving, affectionate, and delightful cats. But they’ve never been able to be trained like dogs can be trained. There are perfectly good reasons why cats cannot be housetrained, or don’t retrieve game, or herd sheep, or any number of other things.

I’m not as mobile as I used to be.”
I’ve had a few cats over the years and they have ranged from “content to stay inside all the time as long as I am fed and have a soft spot to sleep” to, like my current feline, " I will be tireless in my efforts to escape to the great world out there."
If your cat made a break for it, would you be able to recapture it? I had a cat that had been an outside cat for years and he had no desire to get out. The one I have now was brought in as a tiny kitten and has a fierce determination to run free outdoors while at the same time having zero street smarts.

Cats are cats. Dog people tend to get hung up on breeds: spaniel, collie, German shepherd, etc. It is true that there are cat breeds (Siamese, Maine Coon, etc.), but it is possible to have an entirely fine pet cat that is of no particular breed. In fact, if you have never had a cat before, I’d suggest getting a “mongrel” cat–it won’t tend to have any weirdness due to inbreeding; and outside of its particular personality (and every cat has one), should be fairly predictable. In the feline context anyway: it will want a place to scratch, good food and water, a clean litterbox, and interesting and challenging toys. Outside of those, it won’t ask for much.

Your plain, ordinary, everyday “mongrel” cat is often called the Domestic Shorthair, or DSH. They come in a variety of coat patterns (tuxedo, solid black, various tabbies, etc.); and their coats are short enough that there aren’t often problems with matting. Like all cats, they shed, of course, so be warned. But their temperament is, generally speaking, pretty even; and they make very pleasant companions.

Cats will learn certain words and other things–my cats each know their name, and they know when food is served, and when treats are being handed out. They may or may not attend, as they please. They won’t come when called, unless they feel like it. So don’t expect to train a cat as you do a dog–it typically won’t happen. They are their own creatures, which makes it all the more special when they actively choose to spend some time with you.

Leaps happily into the conversation. I’m one of those people you will be talking to at the shelter.

Everyone has posted good advice. Cats are NOT dogs and won’t act like one. Don’t get a kitten, they are as destructive as puppies are. Kittens won’t chew up your shoes, but they will chew cords and keep you up in the middle of the night.

I always suggest that a first time cat owner gets an adult. You know what their personality is. 2 cats are better than one. When they are getting active at dawn, you can toss them out of the bedroom and they will entertain each other.

If you want a dog like cat, search online for Maine Coon rescue sites. Maine Coons are about the most doggy cats I’ve handled. Many people don’t like them because they are so big. I leash trained my Coon so he never tried to sneak out the door. At walkie time, he was a total nag. I really do miss that cat. Giant breeds don’t live as long as mongrels. :frowning:

I’m sorry to hijack but


What did your dad say?

Good information. With regard to breed, I planned on going to the local shelter and adopting a cat with “uncertain ancestry”.

By "not as mobile as I used to be: I mean I need a cane to get around, not so much because I’d fall over without it but because it delays the onset of pain in my knees and back. I can’t run at all anymore so chasing a cat is out of the question. If I determine that a cat is more than II can handle, maybe I’ll get a guinea pig or a rat?

You may be disappointed, so be prepared if you are. When my husband moved in with me, we decided to get a cat because they were easier to care for and he’d never had one. We got a cat, and he’s a fabulous one. Affectionate, doesn’t hide, never has had a single litter box issue, and he doesn’t destroy things. He’s not a dog, though, and while we are committed to his well-being, we won’t be getting another cat anytime soon. (Once we had the ability to care for them, we ended up getting dogs.)

If the work required to have a dog isn’t an option for us in the future, we’ll probably go with some kind of cage pet instead of getting another cat. You may not end up feeling that way, but both my husband and I were dog people in the same position you’re in, and we regretted getting the cat.

Vihaga, out of curiosity, what was inadequate about the cat? What did you miss about having a dog?

It feels like the interaction with him isn’t even remotely on the same level. The dogs travel reasonably well, we can go places and play games with them on our terms in addition to theirs, and it feels like, communication-wise, they’re trying to meet us halfway in a way the cat can’t.
The cat comes when called, and if you tell him to stop doing something, he does stop, but I don’t feel like we can communicate as meaningfully. For example, when I tell the dogs to get out of the kitchen while I’m cooking, they sit at the doorway and wait, and, while one might sneak back in, a quick glance is all that’s needed to send them back out. They seem to “get” the whole idea of me wanting them out and they try to comply, even if there’s chicken. The cat also leaves, but I have to be a lot more assertive and consistent with him to keep him listening. It’s obvious that he only stays out because I’m going to make it difficult for him to come in, not because he’s trying to do what I want. Does that make sense?

Another example is games. Playing a game with the cat is enticing him with something until he feels like swatting it; we’re pretty much doing all the work to entertain him. With the dogs, we’ll play a game of “find the toy” or frisbee, and while it’s work to hide the objects or throw the frisbee around, the dogs are putting in effort to, say, stay put while I hide the thing, or wait while I throw the frisbee. They’re putting in effort, and we’re all entertained. It feels like more of a group effort.

Taking the dogs for a walk is a team effort where we’re going out as a group and checking things out. Taking the cat for a walk (well, I’ve never done this successfully with my cat, but my sister does with hers) involves following the cat while he does what he wants on a lead.

We never got the feeling of being a team and being buddies with the cat the way we do with the dogs. It’s an entirely different experience for us. He’s a nice enough pet, and he’ll sit on your lap on the couch and such, and I know he likes me because he follows me around and visibly sulks if I reject him for whatever reason. But he’s not my buddy in the same way. I’m sure a lot of people get that feeling from their cats, but I don’t.