Is a cat the right pet for you?

This article discusses cats as pets and gives some pointers on how a person might determine if a cat is his ideal pet.


Cats are becoming more popular as pets.

They don't require much space and usually adapt well to the apartment and indoor living. In fact, some polls estimate that cats outnumber dogs among household pets, now. But is a cat the right pet for you? They really aren’t like dogs, so how do you know?

First, cats are independent. They tend to approach life with a careless sort of air that irritates some people and captivates others. A cat eats when it wants to, sleeps when it wants, plays, and socializes when it wants. A cat has its own timetable. People are there for the cat’s amusement, not the other way around. Sometimes they come when called, sometimes they don’t. Some cats can be trained to do tricks. However, it is up to the cat. A person who respects the rugged individualist will admire a cat's way of doing things.

This independence is often mistaken by feline detractors as a dislike of people. This is not true. Cats usually are very attached to their families, and some are extremely affectionate, loving lap time better than dinnertime. Even a less affectionate cat usually wants to be in the same room as the people, and will actively look for a missing family member, meowing at the person’s usual places, seeking him or her. They also grieve when someone dies. Cats tend to pick up on strong emotions and will often seem to decline in health or energy after the death of a family member.

Another decision a person must make about a cat is: walk twice a day (as with a dog) or empty a litterbox twice a week? Some people would rather walk the dog outside and not have to worry about a litterbox. Some cringe at the thought of having to walk the dog in below-freezing temperatures and would rather dispose of a litterbox liner. Cats love the comfort and often, so do their family members.
Cat games are different from dog games. Cats are lone hunters, not pack animals. Their favorite games include “hide from the human and then pounce from behind the door,” “bat at the human form underneath the chair” and “chase the human’s feet.” They are predators and will almost always pounce on an object moving back and forth in front of them. They will also invent their own games and toys. One of my cat’s favorite toys was the plastic ring from the top of a gallon milk jug. Go figure. Some cats go crazy hearing a plastic candy wrapper crinkle. Most love hiding in paper bags and want the human to rustle the top so they can attack the paper.
Because they are endlessly inventive, they will play with almost anything. Toilet paper and paper towels seem to be irresistible for them, and they will unroll them all over the house. I had one cat who loved to chew on emery boards and to bat them around the house.
Cats are also generally quiet. With the notable exception of the Siamese and Oriental shorthair, they may be somewhat vocal but are rarely talkers. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but cats generally are quiet animals. Their retractable claws allow them to move silently across most floors.
What draws many to the cat as a pet is their beauty and grace. Nothing is more graceful than the sinuous line of the cat. Even a cobby-bodied Persian has a heavy grace that is appealing.

Cats come with long and short coats and in a large variety of colors. A person who gets a longhaired cat needs to be prepared to spend time brushing and grooming it, or it will mat terribly. If you like a quieter animal, one that likes you, an independent, proud, intelligent animal, a cat may well be the pet for you. Just remember: great cats are available from shelters and rescue organizations and they make wonderful pets. Also, always have your pet spayed or neutered. They will be happier and healthier for it.