Getting a Cat?

I grew up on a farm in the countryside and we always had pet cats. I moved out some time ago and now I live in a suburb in a small town and I’ve decided I’d quite like to get a new pet.

Problem is I imagine its rather different owning a pet here than what I’m used to, in the countryside our pet cats pretty much just turned up one day and hung around, coming and going as they pleased. What would I need to know about (a) getting a cat and (b) looking after it?

I work irregular shifts and can often be away for 12+ hours at a time, is that too long to leave a cat on its own?


btw I’m in the UK if that makes any difference

You can leave a cat alone for as long as you want to as long as it has food, water, and a place to poo. Indoor cats aren’t a big hassle if you’re okay with scooping a litter box. All you really need is the cat, food, water, dishes for both, and a litter box with litter. And of course you need to factor in the occaisional expense for vet visits and emergencies, just like any other cat. They’ll happily play with foil balls or milk cap rings.

If you’re away a lot, two can play with one another. Also, they are funnier that way.

You might want to check some books out of your local library. They likely have at least a few good ones on cat care. As for leaving kitty alone for 12+ hours, that’s not a problem. They sleep about 18 hours a day. A older, more sedate cat might suit you better than a kitten, but if you do go for the cute ball of fluff, you might consider kitten-proofing one room and leaving it there with the litter box and food/water while you work.

Cat lovers are waiting to congratulate you on your new feline overlord. Remember, we need pics. :slight_smile:

Yeah, working long hours is no big deal with cats. Go to the local shelter, play with the cats until you find a couple of friendly ones, and adopt them both. Two cats aren’t really any more trouble than one (just need to replace food and cat litter slightly more often), and then they can play with each other when you’re not around.
The only thing that being in the UK changes is that I know your culture seems to like the idea of letting cats roam outside more than Americans do nowadays. I really do strongly recommend keeping your cats as indoor cats. They’re likely to live much longer and healthier lives that way.

What lavenderviolet said.

Work with your local shelter to find a pair of 6month+ old kitties who get along together and get them both.

Spring for the mondo-sized kitty box, too. Some cats are finkie about how clean their litter box is and will find creative places that are cleaner. It’s very annoying coming home after a long day to cat shit on the rug next to a full box.

If you get two or three littermates, they’re pretty much guaranteed to get along. not so much when they’re strangers.

Not true. Sorry.

While that is true as kittens it does not always carry over into adulthood. I have a two year old brother and sister that hate each other. But then again she hates everyone. It really depends on the cat.

A good choice would be a pair of bonded young cats. They don’t have to be related to be bonded.

Getting two would be the best option as they can keep each other company when you are gone for long periods of time and it is just plain more fun to watch them play.

Yes, get a pair of littermates. You might have to get two litter boxes later.

But cats can get along fine for 12 hours without you. They will sleep 11 of that anyway.

Another vote for Violet. As for pair-bonded cats, my local shelters regularly include such information in their online listings as “Morris would love to be adopted with his good buddy Felix”.

I also highly recommend getting two bonded cats from a rescue and keeping them indoors only. My cats (brothers I adopted from a no-kill shelter) have enriched my life to a degree I never would have imagined, and they are incredibly easy to take care of. Cat-related chores - giving them food and fresh water and scooping litter - take me about three minutes per day. Cat-related benefits - endless amusement, frequent cuddling, etc. - take place the whole time I’m at home, and certain strange behaviors linger in my memory for amusement even when my cats aren’t around. I used to think I was a dog person, but when I think about the ratio of chores to benefits, cats are a clear winner.

You will note in the foregoing a few mentions of something along the lines of “it depends on the cat.” Cats have highly individual personalities; there are some vague things they all have in common but it’s difficult to generalize. Especially if you get a kitten: as the cat matures, its character will evolve. The fuzzy black land shark who lives in my house, for example, was fairly standoffish for the first couple of years of his life, but he is now a dedicated lap cat who complains bitterly if he doesn’t get at least half an hour of snuggle time every day.

Per the suggestion of lavenderviolet, this can be mitigated somewhat by getting an adult cat (or two) from a rescue shelter. You will know better what sort of character to expect, and, bonus, you’re doing a good deed.

I’d agree to get an ADULT cat. For one thing, all the kittens get adopted, so you’re saving a life. For another, you can tell more about the cat’s personality (although they’re totally different when you get them home, of course.) For a third, a kitten can be a lot more work.

It absolutely depends on the cat. Our boy is very much a ‘people cat’ and thrives on lots of attention. When I went away for a week earlier this year, I’m told that he would go sit by the door at the time I would normally come home and then be morose until someone else paid attention to him. When we go to bed, he normally sleeps with us or will want to come to bed with us shortly. (I’m trying to convince my SO that we should get a second cat to mitigate some of that need for attention)

My previous cat was very independent and would only want attention when HE wanted it…which wasn’t a lot. He would be fine for a couple days at a time as long as there was food, water and litter.

I do find the concept of keeping a cat indoors odd to be honest but people reassure me that its not a problem or cruel for the cat.

And thanks for the advice everyone.

It’s certainly right about cats having very different personalities. When I was growing up we had two kittens turn up one day (as I said above we never went out looking for cats, they came to us) which we called Blackie and Ginger (original huh?). They hung around for a couple of years and then one summer Blackie disappeared. We figured he’d either wandered off or had been hit and killed on the road nearby…until the next summer almost to the day he turned up at our back door looking in as if he’d never been away at all! He stayed for another couple of months and then vanished again, this time for good.

Ginger however was our longest lasting cat and I had him for about nine years before like most of our other cats he got run over on the nearby road. Ironically quiet rural roads are a lot more dangerous for cats than busier ones because they tend to be less wary when crossing them.

He used to annoy our sheepdog Nell by sitting just outside of range of her chain, she’d try and try to get at him but couldn’t quite reach while he sat smugly enjoying the show…I was always tempted to lengthen her chain just to see his reaction… :smiley:

That road thing there is why people keep 'em indoors. :slight_smile:

Are you renting? If so, make sure it is OK with your landlord before you get a cat. I’ve seen too many cats returned to rescue groups because “the landlord found out”.

Oh, and this has to be said in any advice-to-a-prospective-cat-owner thread- spay or neuter any cat you get. There are too many cats out there for the available homes right now- don’t make the problem worse. You wouldn’t like living with an intact female cat in heat (they yowl loudly and frequently) or an intact tomcat (they tend to spray). Spayed and neutered cats make so much better pets, especially as indoor cats (where any yowling or spraying will be done indoors).

I’d trade places with my indoor kitties in a minute. Let me stay home and sleep in the sun or play with one of the 6.02 * 10[sup]23[/sup] cat toys in this house, while they work, get groceries, and all that. If you apply the golden rule standard, that means I’m doing OK by them. If you can measure cat happiness by purring, they’re certainly happy.

I second this. Two cats are not much more work than one, and they are so much more fun. I don’t think they get less people-focused, either- if they do, either of the Neville kitties would be truly scary in the amount of attention they would demand if they were only cats.

There are alternatives if scooping the box daily is something you’d rather not do.

There are electric models, such as the Litter Maid, that run a rake through the litter regularly, and all you have to do is throw out a container of old litter and put in a new receptacle. With two cats having just that box, I had to replace the receptacle a couple of times a week. We did have some problems with the electronic parts breaking down, though.

There’s also this. You just have to roll it over on its back (having checked for cats inside first, of course), then roll it back upright, once a day. The dirty litter goes into a drawer that can pull out. We had to empty it once a week with two cats using just that one box. We loved this one, but I think the cats like the Litter Maid better (not all cats like covered litter boxes). Now the cats have both, and seem to be happy.

Some people even train their cats to use the toilet. I never tried that.

You’ll have to buy a clumping litter for either of those automatic litter boxes. Those are easy enough to find here (I don’t know about in the UK).

An important item: cats don’t like change, and when it comes to change in the litter box, they can express this by peeing or pooping on your pillow. Find a brand of litter they like and that you can get reasonably conveniently, and stick to it. Don’t buy something else if it’s on sale this week. Switch to something else only if a human or feline member of your household is having a real health problem from dust or something like that.

Cats don’t like change in their food, either. Find a good brand of food and stick with it. They don’t mind. Changing their food can lead to things like vomiting or diarrhea. Also, cats can and do refuse to eat a food they don’t like to the point of causing health problems that end up in expensive vet bills.

I’d have named him Foghorn Leghorn.

Yet another one of those maddening topics about animal health on which there appears to be no unanimity of opinion. The advice I more often see is as below:

Rotating your dog and cat’s food every 3-4 months is advised depending on the health issues of your dog or cat. Rotating the diets and providing variety is believed to help prevent food sensitivities, food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. Be sure to mix the new and old foods together gradually for a slow transition to the new food each time the food is changed.

From here:

Dittoing all of the advice. I also suggest you get some kind of specialized brush so you can keep hairballs and shedding to a minimum, at least a nail clipper (I use one of those rotating nail file thingies), a scratching post, and a flea collar.

One of my cats also has a gum problem, so she gets to have her teeth brushed and fed the world’s most disgusting antibiotic every night. She’s also a needy little diva and will cry outside the bedroom door starting about 6 in the morning–she seems to be convinced that if she meows loud enough, food will magically appear in the bowl.

Both of them also like follow us into the bathroom. I guess they don’t understand that the toilet is our litter box and are curious as to why we go in there.

No flea collars! They don’t work and they’re dangerous and also shitty. If you have a flea problem, use one of the newer flea medicines - Advantage, Revolution, whatever they got in the UK.

Dewey loves to go in the bathroom with me, but the flush scares him. Every time.