Why choose a cat? Unlike dogs, they won’t smother you with affection when you return home from work. They won’t chase a stick at the beach, and good luck getting them to lie passively on their backs while you scratch their bellies.
As someone who inherited a cat from a pair of clueless neighbors, a wily feline who’s been tormenting – excuse me, enriching my life for the better part of a decade – I can tell you that most of the clichés you’ve heard about cats are true. They’re finicky. They bore easily. They get scared. They exhibit, er, cat-like grace. I haven’t tested out the whole nine lives thing, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Suffice it to say, they are mysterious, fiercely independent, entertaining creatures who are plotting your demise at every turn. (Just kidding, they would never kill their food source.)
And always keep in mind – even if you think you choose your cat – the cat always chooses you. Remember that.
Now here are some reasons and tips for choosing a cat:
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Cats are remarkably self-sufficient. Given enough food and water, they can be left alone for many hours, and they won’t resent you enough to tear your house apart. You don’t have to worry about walking them, as they do their business in a litter box (provided by you). However, if you’re working long hours and plan to leave the cat alone consistently for upwards of 40 or 50 hours a week, you may want to consider getting two cats. With you as the common oppressor, the cats will unite against you and look out for each other. (Just kidding about you being the oppressor. Sort of).
It’s been said that you need to spend an hour a day with your cat for “bonding time,” though that varies by breed. After ten minutes together, my cat tends to amble away and sit down in a position that affords me an unwelcome view of her back end, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate my being in close proximity.
Seriously, cats don’t ask much of you, other than the basics of food, shelter, a well-maintained litter box, and some love and affection.
- TIP: To keep maintenance low, choose a short-haired cat over a long-haired. Otherwise, you will spend an inordinate amount of time brushing out your cat’s coat to prevent matting.
They Clean Themselves
If you spend enough time around cats, you will notice that a good part of their day, in addition to sleeping, is spent licking various parts of their anatomy, and they often contort themselves into poses unfit for family viewing. Still, it beats having to bathe them or take them to the local pet groomer. Cats do it all themselves, and very meticulously.
They’re Fun to Play with
Cats are remarkably agile and athletic, with quick darting movements and dexterity that will leave you enthralled. It doesn’t take much to amuse them. A feather stick, a squeaky mouse toy, or something as simple as a piece of string or the proverbial ball of yarn will provide hours – well, half an hour if you’re good – of amusement. Don’t take it purrsonally if the cat suddenly loses interest and walks away after two minutes – they’ll be back.
They Can Live up to 20 Years
Cats endure – specifically, indoor cats. While outdoor cats are susceptible to disease, accidents, and injuries from fights with rivals, indoor cats, with proper feeding and medical care – regular checkups, the right vaccinations, the right diet food or pills when required – can easily enjoy a 15-20 year lifespan.
Their Purring Will Soothe You
When a cat is content, it purrs, a delightfully soothing sound that can comfort you after a tough day. This generally happens for a number of reasons:
- They feel safe.
- They’ve been fed.
- They trust you.
- They’ve been fed.
- You are scratching them in a killer spot.
- They’ve been fed.
They Are Sociable and Adaptable
Ever see a cat obedience class? Didn’t think so. Cats are generally well-behaved and adaptable to a number of environments. Though territorial, they do, contrary to popular belief, get along with other cats, and even dogs generally become putty in their scheming paws.
Whether you want a cat that follows you from room to room or prefers to be left alone will depend on the breed you select.
One of the most popular breeds (and this happens to be my cat as well) is the American Shorthair, which Petfinder.com describes as “the perfect breed for the person who wants a cat that enjoys being in your lap but not in your face.”
Other popular breeds include the Persian, the Maine Coon (prized for its hunting skills), the Rag Doll (which loves to be picked up) the Exotic Shorthair (which loves to sit in your lap) and the Abyssinian (which doesn’t).
They Will Talk to You
“Talkative” cats, like the popular Siamese or Burmese, will communicate with you frequently. They won’t be discussing soybean futures or the Iran nuclear deal, but they are chatterboxes, with a remarkable array of meows, yips, and yowls, all of which convey a philosophical world view they wish to share with you. Some nights, you’ll be happy for the companionship. Other times, you’ll wish you’d never been born. Such is life with a cat who never shuts up – but lovers of these breeds wouldn’t have it any other way.
They Get Attached to Their Owners
While celebrated for their cerebral and often aloof nature, cats are actually cuddly and protective, and will get attached to you quickly. Given the opportunity, your cat will happily sleep in your bed, rub its head up against you (the ultimate sign of affection), and bring you a dead mouse – killed in cold blood – as a sign of its sworn devotion to you, their Master.
A few final tips:
- Try rescuing a cat from a shelter, rather than buying one at a pet store. There are thousands of abandoned cats in need of good homes.
- While kittens can be unpredictable, adult cats are set in their ways and their personalities are more reliable.
- If you’re nervous about what the yearly costs of owning a cat are, peteducation.com has a comprehensive itemized list.
- Other helpful cat resources include: www.humanesociety.org and www.aspca.org.