Adopt A Cat: Why cats make great family pets & how to prepare for a new arrival
Let me just say, cats are awesome family members! I have people ask me all the time if they should get a hamster, a guinea pig, or maybe a rabbit because their child really wants a pet but they don’t have the time to train a puppy. Enter: the family cat. There are many reasons to consider adding a feline to the family and since June is adopt a shelter cat month, I thought I would talk about what wonderful pets cats are and how to go about adding one to your family.
First of all, cats require minimal training. They know how to use a litterbox and will typically do their business outdoors if you allow them access to the yard. However, if you choose to, you can teach your cat many tricks. They are smart and trainable (my two cats can ‘sit’ and give a ‘high five’ and many cats will take walks on a leash), but training is not required for them to be a part of the family. Secondly, they are small and take up hardly any space and for the most part are fairly quiet creatures compared to their canine counterparts. And don’t get me started on hamsters running in their wheels all. night. long. Lastly, shelters are consistently filled with cats. You can walk into almost any shelter and find an array of felines: long hair, no hair, orange hair, stripes! It’s all there: old cats, lazy cats, or young playful baby kittens. And they all need homes. So why not invest by saving a life?
If you follow me on social media, you will remember back in the fall we adopted a kitten, Camo. At the time, we had 2 dogs and 1 cat already and I was nervous about adding a second feline. Since my cat, Samson, was 12 at the time, I wanted the transition to be seamless for him. I talked with many friends and colleagues, did some research, and now I want to share with you so you can transition your feline into your family without incident.
It is important to evaluate your home environment before adding any new member (canine or feline). Think about where you will put the litterbox if this is your first cat. If you already have a cat, then you may need to add a litterbox. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends 1.5 litterboxes per cat. So, 2 cats = 3 litterboxes. In addition to thinking about where the litterbox will be located, think also about a place to feed them. Food should be away from the litterbox and if you have more than one cat, you need multiple feeding stations.
In addition to assessing your home environment and organizing litterbox locations and feeding stations, adding pheromones will aide in the transition. When we brought Camo into our home, I used Feliway and Feliway Multicat diffusers. By dispensing the feline facial pheromone, Feliway diffuser and spray helps cats to feel secure in their environment. The Feliway Multicat diffuser uses the cat appeasing pheromone to help multiple cats in one environment get along with one another.
Before adopting any animal, it is a good idea to make sure all of the other animals in the house have a checkup with your family veterinarian. Keeping everyone up to date on their vaccines and parasite prevention will ensure all animals stay healthy when bringing in a new addition. As soon as you adopt your cat, bring him/her to your family veterinarian for a physical exam. Many veterinary clinics offer discounts on their exam or other services if you have recently adopted your cat. They will be able to recommend which food to feed, any vitamins to add, and which vaccines are important based on your cat’s lifestyle. You will also discuss parasite prevention. It is important your cat is protected against fleas by using a product such as Provecta for cats. Fleas are a threat whether your cat is indoors or ventures outdoors from time to time, and no one wants to be dealing with a flea infestation!
My first pet as an adult was a cat. He was so much fun to play with as a kitten! He kept me entertained during study breaks, but at the same time I didn’t worry about him when I had to be at school for hours on end. He was easy to train and has been a large part of our family for almost 13 years! It is also rewarding knowing you are saving an animal from a life in a shelter or potentially being euthanized due to overcrowding. Adopt a cat this June and see what a great family pet they can be!
– Leigh Hofmeister, DVM