Getting a cat (long)

Mr Neville and I just found out that our apartment complex management now allows us to keep pets. squeee! :happy dance: They still don’t allow dogs :mad: but they do allow cats. I would really like to get a cat.

Neither of us has any experience keeping pets on our own (other than goldfish). Please share any wisdom you may have on getting a cat (but don’t tell me not to get one- I want one with the white-hot intensity of 10^11 suns).

I have read several threads on cats, and seen nothing to really discourage me. We don’t tend to keep breakable stuff around (it generally has a short lifetime around us, anyway), don’t have nice furniture, and our level of housekeeping is pretty much “college dorm, but with somebody coming by to clean every two weeks so it doesn’t get too bad”. So things like taping foil onto chair legs and having scratching posts in visible locations (as long as we don’t trip on them) wouldn’t bother us.

There are three available options for where to get a cat:

  1. Rescue organization (there are several near us). They mostly rescue feral cats, though, and I don’t want a cat that is too independent and wild. My mom had a cat like that when I was growing up, and it hated me and never let me pet it. I want a cat that will sit and purr in my lap and demand to be petted. If I go to see the feral cats and kittens, and one of them seems friendly at the adoption event (lets me pick it up, purrs, etc), is it likely to stay friendly, or is it likely to become more wild once I get it home?

  2. Siamese rescue organization. I like the look of meezers, and from what I’ve heard they are the most dog-like of cats- they want to sit on your lap, want to be petted, and so on and so forth. Is this true?

Also, the rescue organization’s adoption form scares me a little. They need a reference from a vet. Of course, since we have no pets, we have no vet. Would we be able to find the vet we would use once we get our cats, and use them as a reference?

  1. Breeder. This would be good because as I understand it, you’re supposed to be able to ask a good breeder questions about the cat later on if you have them (and I know we will). They also come with a health guarantee, unlike rescued cats, and we would get a cat from a breeder that raised their cats with lots of interaction with humans. Would this be likely to make them less wild? The downside is the expense, and the fact that I’d feel a little guilty getting a cat from a breeder when there are so many cats needing homes.

Any words of wisdom, Dopers?

Personally, I’d get a cat from a rescue organization. If you really like Siamese cats, get a cat from the Siamese rescue org. If you don’t really care, go to the Humane Society or another rescue place. When I got both of my cats from the Humane Society, they each had worms (despite being de-wormed before leaving the rescue place), and both had an upper-respiratory infection. So keep an eye out for little things near their butts that look like wiggly rice kernels, and listen for sneezing.

If you would like to get a cat from a breeder, keep in mind that it’ll be a lot more expensive than getting a cat from a shelter. If their health guarantee means that much to you, that might be the way you’d want to go. However, in my experience, cats from the Humane Society (like mine) remain just as healthy as those from a pet store once they’re in a nice home for a while. Granted, you might have to deal with worms or infections if you get your cat from a shelter. But once that has been cleared up, cats from a shelter should remain just as healthy as cats from a breeder, provided you take care of them well, and I’m sure you will. Admittedly, one of my cats does have herpes. Herpes is a flu virus that, according to my vet, about 80% of cats in shelters have. It’s transmitted easily from cat-to-cat through saliva and other bodily fluids. Many cats don’t exhibit symptoms, while others do. Basically all herpes does to a cat is lower their immune system. The most visible symptoms include your cat having really watery, seepy eyes, sometimes with discharge, and getting sick frequently. This can usually be corrected by giving the cat over-the-counter lysine tablets once a day (I get mine at Walgreens for $6 a bottle about once ever 2 months). Apparently cats with herpes are missing the enzyme lysine, which helps their immune system function properly. Giving them a regular dose of it usually prevents them from getting sick and can clear up gooey eyes.

Regardless of where you get your cat, you may want to choose a vet and take your new cat to the vet once you get him or her just to get a check-up, and to get your new cat tested for FIV and feline leukemia (both are standard tests performed on all cats).

Another piece of advice - when you get your cat, find out what he or she has been eating at the shelter or breeder. Try to feed the cat the same food, or, if you’d like to switch brands (I use Purina One, but lots of people also swear by Iams or Science Diet), mix the food the cat has been eating with the new food. It’ll ease intestinal distress that the cat might experience by being fed new food. Also make sure that plenty of fresh water is available.

When you bring the cat home, introduce it to its new home slowly - start by keeping him or her in one room, then after a day or so, allowing your cat to explore the rest of the house in stages. And don’t panic if your cat hides or doesn’t want to eat immediately - it’ll probably take some adjustment for your new cat to get used to a new environment.

Either way, good luck!

Many rescue organizations take in dumped formerly owned cats, tame cats that people got tired of, sick cats whose owners didn’t want to pay for their care, cats over 1 who are no longer “cute,” cats that were left behind when their owners moved, etc., in addition to ferals. Besides, feral kittens are usually easy to tame and if the rescue org got those ferals as kittenes, they are probably fine. I don’t know of any rescue organization that adopts out FERAL cats anyway - feral means they are unadoptable and untamable. Oh, maybe once in a while they find a barn where ferals can live but to adopt grown, completely feral cats to a home? I’ve never seen that in 10 years of rescue work.

If you go to an adoption event and you see kittens, they are probably tame already even if they were once feral. If they are still a little shy, most feral kittens will tame right up when they have a lot of human interaction, as long as they aren’t too old. Honestly though, I would only recommend a not-quite-tamed feral kitten to someone who is very experienced with cats. They are not a good choice for a new cat-person. Get yourself either a completely tamed formerly feral kitten or a kitten who was born to a home, or better yet, an older kitten (6 mos. +) or grown cat - adults desperately need homes and you will know what you are getting: no surprises as to what the personality is. You can spend time with the cat and get to know it before adopting. With a kitten, it’s a crap shoot: they are sooooo cute but that ends soooooo quickly. Plus, kittens do better in pairs unless you are home a significant part of the day.

I don’t know if I’d call them “dog-like.” They do want to sit on your lap and they are LOUD. LOUD ALL THE TIME. If you don’t like constant meowing and demands for attention, a Siamese is not for you. (Lots of other cats are “dog-like” too - all mine are and they are all Heinz 57 ferals or dump jobs or from a shelter. however, it is nice to adopt from a rescue organization, so that could be a good choice too.

I don’t see how you can use a vet you don’t have as an after-the-fact reference. Simply tell them you don’t have a vet yet because you don’t have any pets yet. It’s not the first time they’ve heard that.

Many purebred cats have extensive health problems because they are inbred. Also, there is NO guarantee for health. No breeder can guarantee the health of the animal, just like you cannot “guarantee” that you won’t get sick next week. What they guarantee is a refund of your money or an exchange for another animal of comparable quality. Any breeder who tells you they “guarantee” the animal will not have health problems is a fraud and a liar. By the way, most shelters will adopt a cat to you who is current on shots, has tested FIV/FeLV negative, and is spayed or neutered. That is worth WAY more than the adoption fee and is worth more than any useless “guarantee” a breeder will give you.

I would never get a cat from a breeder, personally. It’s a waste of money and there are millions of cats in the U.S. who need homes.

Wherever you do adopt from, please have your cat spayed or neutered. Good luck!

I have to agree with this. My youngest cat (I got her at the Humane Society 2 years ago, I think) is only part Siamese, and she is the talkiest cat I have ever seen. She can’t MOVE without meowing. And her meows are really loud and piercing sometimes. I simply can’t train her out of it. My vet, like missbunny, says that Siamese are much more vocal than other breeds. Both my cats are really sweet, though, and love to be rubbed. They’re constantly trailing me around the house seeking attention. If that’s what you mean by “dog-like,” I think you’ll find that quality in any breed, depending upon how they’ve been treated and what their personality is like, instead of in just Siamese cats.

I just want to congratulate you on the adoption of a dreaded Viking Long Cat.

Can’t wait for pics.

I’m thinking that policy may mean one of two things for me:

  1. They want to make sure you’ve done your homework and found a vet that you’re going to take the cats to after you adopt it.

  2. They don’t want to adopt their cats to new pet owners :frowning:

The first I can do something about, the second I can’t.

Of course! If I get a rescued cat (most likely to happen), it will probably already be spayed or neutered. If I got one from a breeder, I don’t intend to start breeding cats, so I would have it spayed or neutered ASAP.

Get a mutt. You’ll probably get exactly what you’re looking for. Siamese are all different, of course, but they are usually very very loud.

Ardred wanted a siamese mix because he likes the way they are colored and that they are so vocal. We ended up getting Jake at the local humane society because he kept leaping back out of his cage to be held when we visited him. He’s the most vocal cat I’ve ever had (he constantly meows and merbles). Jumping requires a sound. Rolling over requires a sound. Any kind of touching requires a sound. Thinking he’s alone, us not being in bed, us being in bed, the other cat purring, the dog eating, the dog rolling over… all these things have their own soundtrack devised solely by Mr Murphy for our entertainment.

He had a bit of an upper respiratory thing from the shelter (my computer monitor never did come entirely clean of cat snot) but that only lasted a month or two, plus it’s cute to see a little thing completely blown backwards off his feat by a sneeze come running to you for protection from the loud noise that just emanated from his nasal area.

Things that happened to us:
He wouldn’t touch the kitten food (Iams) that the shelter had. He would eat the dog food, so we knew he was hungry. We switched him and the other cat to Nutro Natural Choice and he eats like a trooper with nary a digestive problem.

He had anal gland problems. These are not fun for you or for the cat. This has cleared up as he put on weight.

He will not use an unclean (by 24 hours or more) litter box.

His skin reacts to rabies shots with large ugly lumps. This is very scary.

Our shelter had a list of vets they recommend and prices for various services. We went to one for his neuter (no adoptions without neutering or spaying, period) and didn’t like him much, so switched to the other cat’s vet.

My other cat was the runt of a bred litter of a friend of the family’s cat. She ended up weighing 15 pounds, so size as a kitten is NOT an indicator of how big the little bugger will be. :smiley:


I give this advice to all new (and current) cat owners. When you get a litter box, get the biggest scooper you can find. I can clean my cat’s box in three quick scoops; this makes it a lot easier to stay in the habit of cleaning the box every day.

Have lotsa fun with your new cat!

Go for the shelter/rescue org option. I got my Minx from a shelter. She picked me out on my first visit. I was looking at a kitten and she came up and started rubbing against me and purring. It took me approximately 10 seconds to get attached to her. They didn’t know what she was, but it was determined by some of my friends who know that she was part Siamese. She has quite the vocabulary :D. Just as others have said about theirs she has a comment for everything. Living alone, this is nice for me - I always have someone to talk to :). (But I have been known on occasion to tell her to shut the heck up already :eek: )

I don’t know if this is typical of Siamese as she is my first cat, but Minx is downright co-dependent. I have a 14lb shadow. She demands attention all the time. (She is nudging my arm for me to pet her as I am trying to type this :)). She’s smarter than some people I know and sweeter than most people I know.

Just keep in mind that the cat is in charge and everything will be just fine. As I read in a sig one time “Dogs have owners. Cats have staff”.

Best of luck finding you perfect little furry daughter or son :slight_smile:

I’d go with option 3: They want to make sure you take care of any pets you already have.

Not having any pets at the moment because of your living arrangement probably won’t count against you any. But if you’ve got pets, and they’re not getting proper veterinary care, that’s going to count against you a whole lot. They want assurance from your vet that your pets get vaccines and other appropriate preventive care in good order, and that you seek help for injuries or illness in a timely manner. After all, the new one’s liable to get the same care the old ones get.

I had a beautiful post typed up yesterday, and then the computer sucked it into oblivion.

At any rate, I reiterate what many of the others have said re: getting your cat from a resuce organization. There are lots of great cats out there and in many cases, the shelter can give you some history on the cat (like whether it’s good with dogs, children, other cats; why the previous family gave it up, etc.). My local shelter automatically tests its adoptable cats for FIV, feline leukemia, etc. and has each cat’s test results available for potential owners.

Have you actually asked the rescue organization about the vet referral question? It seems like you’re assuming that they don’t want to help new pet owners, when in fact they’re probably just checking to make sure you’ll take care of the animal.

Regarding getting a cat from a breeder so you can ask questions of the breeder later—I seriously doubt that any questions would arise that can’t be handled by internet resources, your vet, or the SDMB. I would also be wary of a purebred cat because of the health problems that can result from inbreeding.

Have fun looking for your kitty!

Anne Neville, I think I misunderstood your original statement - I think you meant you’d find a good vet, tell him you’re going to get a cat, and then provide his name to the adoption people as your “soon to be needed” vet. I think that’s fine. I don’t think, though, that you have to worry about the organization not wanting to adopt to people who have never had a pet. Everyone has to start somewhere! There are instances where a shelter won’t want to adopt certain cats to people who are inexperienced - that’s because the cat has special needs or is “difficult” in some way or really needs a lot of attention and the people work, etc. Most shelters want the cat to be adopted to a home for life, so they take care not to adopt animals to people who might not have the experience to handle their special needs.

You can ask the shelter questions too! At mine, for example, we have people that call up a week later, a month later, a year later, with some issue they are having or request for advice. A reputable shelter should be willing to answer your questions now and in the future. Plus you have the Web and all its resources; your future vet; other people you know who have cats; this board; and so on.

We got Dusty from a rescue shelter and are very happy. They screened us fairly well to make sure we were serious about caring for a pet and wouldn’t get bored as she grew up and lost a bit of cuteness. All the cats seemed well socialized and we had ample opportunity to play with Dusty before making our decision.

We adopted from a no-kill shelter ( in case anyone in NC is interested). One plus of this shelter, not that we ever plan on using it, is that if we couldn’t keep this cat for some reason, they would take it back. They make you sign that you will return the cat to them rather than god forbid abandon it.

I mention this because it’s possible something may come up. You, your SO or a future child might have a severe allergy. Or your living situation might change. The no-kill philosophy also just speaks to their dedication to making commitment to the cat.

This shelter was great for other reasons, too. They are very dedicated to socializing the kitties, so they are ready to make great pets. Our high-energy furball was litter trained, spayed, and knew to keep its claws in while playing, among other neat tricks.

We got our two cats on Friday! We went to a local no-kill shelter (that would take the kitties back if, God forbid, something were to happen making that necessary) and adopted two kittens.

Kitten #1 is 8 or 9 months old (I’ve decided her birthday is the same as mine, January 29). Her name is Luna. She is a tortie-point Siamese mix, with beautiful blue eyes. She’s a total lap-cat.

Kitten #2 is 3 or 4 months old (her birthday is the same as Mr. Neville’s, May 24). She is a Russian Blue mix- all gray, with very green eyes. Her name is Katya, short for Ekaterina.

Pictures to come later. They’re both very cute!


Cats are the best. Followed closely by dogs.

Yay! I’m so glad you went to a shelter. Note that full-service animal shelters are also great places to get pets, often; the fact that we never turn an animal away usually means that we get many times more animals than a “no-kill” shelter, and we desperately want to find homes for them, so that we don’t have to euthanize them.

San Francisco’s Humane Society is legendary, and even a little controversial, in the humane society movement; the controversy, however, seems to be mainly around their fundraising efforts, as I’ve heard nothing but positive stuff about their animal care.


A friend of mine gave me this advice when we got our kitten: Play with his feet. It sounds strange, but if the cat gets used to you touching his/her feet, you will never have a problem with trimming their nails. We did this with our younger cat, and he actually purs when we clip his nails. The older cat, well, the less said about the three ring circus that is clipping his nails the better.

To add to what lightingtool said, play with their ears as well, in case you need to clean them later. Also if you are thinking about giving your cats regular baths in the future, start now. We started bathing our kitties when they were little and they are okay with water now. They don’t like it, but they deal with it.

I am very glad that you got two kitties :slight_smile: I hope you do well with each other.