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Thinking about becoming a first-time pet parent to a cat? Congratulations!
Chances are you like cats, but before adopting your first feline friend, ask yourself, "Do I love cats? Am I a cat person? How do I know?" Check out these three questions that cat people usually identify with.
1. Do You Understand Cats?
One of the first steps to determine if you're a cat person is to spend time with other pet parents. Visit with several cat-parent friends so you can meet cats of various breeds and personalities. Visiting your friends' cats is a great way to find out if you're allergic to cats. If you are, don't despair. Proper grooming and allergy medicine can make owning a cat manageable, but be sure to consult with your doctor before you decide to adopt.
It's also a good idea to visit your local animal shelters to find the right fit for you. At the shelter, you'll learn about the personalities, energy levels, socialization skills and individual quirks of the cats and kittens up for adoption. You'll be able to play and bond with the animals, too, which really helps in the decision-making process.
Ask your friends important questions about cat ownership, such as the amount of time it takes to groom the cat, what responsibilities go along with owning a cat and how much money they spend on food, accessories and health care each month.
It is important to know that cats are wonderful pets, but they are also individual creatures. They might not be the most affectionate pets to start out your relationship, so it is important to know this before adopting. Having lots of patience and understanding your cat's personality will help you get along with her better and avoid getting frustrated that she seems distant.
2. Are You Able to Invest?
You have to be in a sound financial position to provide for your kitty. In addition to basics like cat food, dishes, a litter box and litter, toys, a collar with a tag and veterinary check-ups, you need to factor in other costs, emphasizes Vetstreet. "When you're calculating costs to decide whether or not you can afford a cat, make sure to factor in payments for routine [veterinary care], a budget for emergencies, and the cost of pet insurance, if you elect to purchase it." Research costs of services in your area to help with your budget.
When you become a pet parent, you not only make a financial investment but an emotional one, too.
If you travel frequently or are busy and distracted while at home, you may not be ready to be a pet parent. Petcha explains that while cats can entertain themselves during the day, they do get bored and will experience loneliness, separation anxiety and stress if their humans are absent frequently and/or are away for long stretches. Cats are self-sufficient pets to a degree (for example, you don't have to rush home during your lunch hour to let them out for a potty break), but you shouldn't leave them alone for extended periods.
Cat ownership also requires extreme patience and understanding. Whether you bring home a kitten or an adult cat, there will be an adjustment period where you'll learn each other's personalities, habits, and routines. Cats do weird things sometimes, such as bolting across the room for no reason or staring at the wall, but don't worry — it's just what they do.
There are also headaches to parenting a cat that you need to ask yourself if you're ready to handle. Cleaning litter boxes, dealing with occasional scratches, early morning wake-up calls and dead-mouse presents are just some of the things that come with being a cat parent. You need to be able to provide your cat with love and affection through all of the difficult times too.
3. Are You Willing to Share?
Another "Am I a cat person?" point to ponder is that you must be comfortable sharing your things because your new kitty will take over your couch, your favorite chair, and your bed. Your things are no longer your own! You may have to rearrange your home to accommodate your furry friend. Remember cats need things like cat beds, scratching posts, cat trees, and more — all of which requires space.
And because a cat will make your home her home, you must create a safe space for your new furry friend. Take a cat's-eye tour of your home, to identify potential hazards for a cat, including loose cords and wires, poisonous plants and flowers, delicate and breakable items, and choking hazards like string, ribbon, thumbtacks and coins. Preparing for a cat is a lot like baby-proofing, and if you have children it's important to educate them on how to live safely with a cat too.
Perhaps the most important question you have to ask yourself is, "Am I in this for the long haul?" Cats can live up to 20 years and older, and you're their world. Your fur baby depends on you to keep her healthy, safe, secure and happy.
If you can answer yes to these three questions, then you're a cat person! We wish you and your future cat best friend all the best.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.