So you’re thinking of getting a cat?
Ant and I have always wanted a cat and after settling into our new apartment we decided it was time to find a feline friend to share our new home. The following is a summary of our experiences adopting a cat in January 2010, the costs involved and what to expect when you finally open your home to a new friend.
If you don’t want to read everything just skim through the headings to the parts that interest you.
Rundown of the actual day adoption day
We went to visit the Cat Protection Society in Newtown (Sydney); they have a variety of kitten, teenage and older cats, as well as cats with special needs who are looking for new homes. Initially our visit was to have a look and a play with the cats looking for homes just to see if we were really serious and to see if I was allergic to the cats. We weren’t completely convinced a cat was for us at this point in time, but we were really open to the right candidate.
It was our second visit and we were surprised the cat we liked on our initial visit had already found a home so quickly (a week between visits). We played with a few potential cats that we thought might suit us, but none of them jumped out at us in our interactions, after a thirty minute play we were resigned to coming back again some other time. As we were leaving, a dark tortoiseshell crossed our path just before the door, I hadn’t realised I had seen this cat’s name and tag on the cages, but dismissed it as being male and unsuitable. To our surprise she was a female with an ambigious name and around the age we wanted. At this time though Owl seemed more worried about the flaring allergies rather than looking at any other potential cats, but something told us to give this lanky meerkat-esque-cat a better look.
At 1 year and 3 months old she was just the right age for us. Getting a kitten would have meant a lot more time than we could give, as well as lots of training and kitten mishaps that we didn’t have time to resolve due to our daily schedules.
Instead, an older cat meant we had a better idea of its temperament and that it was thoroughly toilet trained. It also meant more space could be made for the rescue of other older cats, which can often be a much slower process than the kittens.
We very spontaneously decided on her there and then and since the decision was so hasty, we also decided not to take her home that day because we hadn’t set anything up to accommodate a cat. So we arranged to board her for a few extra nights with the CPS (this can be done provided there is space in the cattery for $10 a night). After filling in all the paperwork for adoption, we decided to buy a cat starter pack from them to get us off and running, this is discussed in the next segment.
Why you should consider the Cat Protection Society?
Not only were the staff very well informed and friendly, the CPS also have great starter packages to get you started and loads of information about cats – these can be found on their website. There are two starter packs available, one for kittens the other for cats. They give you everything you need to get going, these include:
- 1 x Science Diet Tin
- 1 x Science Diet Sachet
- Stoneware Bowl
- Plastic Double Bowl
- Hooded Litter Tray
- Small Cat Toy (hard ball with bell)
- Kitty Blanket
- Portable Scratch Post
- Cat Bed (of your choice)
- Catnip Sack
- Fresh Magic Crystal Litter 1.8kg
- Carry Cage and CPS Membership for 1 year
We found the carry cage, hooded litter tray and crystal litter probably the three best things in the package; our cat prefers to drink out of a glass cup and doesn’t use the stoneware bowl all that much. She doesn’t seem to mind eating the same Science Diet Tin food, which is specifically for indoor cats (reduces odours/calories consumed). The free moving scratch post ending up falling on the cat the first time she used it so she gave up, we ended up buying her a tall scratch post with platform and she loves it. Our cat also prefers smaller softer toy balls, so the one with the bell doesn’t get used much.
What to consider when adopting…
Cats are a financial and social responsibility and will take a fair amount of maintenance, they are a lifetime consideration and can live up to 20 years with costs involving time, money and care. They will require ongoing vaccinations and checkups as well as constant food and litter. We read that in the first year of owning a cat the costs can easily be in the $1000 mark with each subsequent year costing around $800 to maintain. That means over the lifetime of a cat you could be paying well in excess of $10,000 for its care and well being. This cost doesn’t include any accidents or emergencies that might arise, which can be significant if the cat is allowed outside. Cats also require lots of love and company so make sure to think about that and your lifestyle too.
Our cat lives in an apartment and she seems to be okay with always being indoors, despite previously living both indoors and outdoors. Sometimes she gets itchy paws and tries to make a break out the front door or balcony, so keep in mind your potential accommodation. Depending on their markings and colour, cats may need to be kept indoors all the time to avoid skin cancer.
If you are seriously thinking about a cat we definitely recommend checking out the Cat Protection Society in Newtown if it isn’t too far from you. The staff are knowledgeable and can advise you on any queries or worries you might have, as well as, match you up with a good candidate for adoption. Otherwise check your local animal welfare group/shelter/pound, as there are plenty of cats needing adoption.
If you do get a cat, make sure you desex it (this may be a legal requirement in some areas). Desexing your cat will save unwanted kittens being born and abandoned, help break the feline overpopulation cycle and reduce health issues and also makes registering the cat cheaper with the council. It is illegal to sell or offer a cat for free without having it desexed first and there are discounted desexing options available from the CPS if money is an issue.
We hope some of this information may have been of use to you, lastly we’ll leave you with a few things that we have discovered, experienced or myth busted!
Things of interest to note
A few things we’ve found out from experience with our cat –
- You can put a harness on a cat and let it out on the balcony if you don’t have a secure area;
- Good quality food is worthwhile buying as this will save problems down the road in the health and wellbeing;
- Crystal litter is very easy to use, masks smells really well and only needs to be changed every six weeks or so;
- Don’t leave any food out (even momentarily), cats are really quick and cheeky;
- Don’t forget to register the cat with your local council;
- Tortis aren’t always naughty or mean, they can be really sweet; and
- Owl special – Cats sometimes get a bad rep that is seemingly unwarranted! Being a dog fan prior to the cat I thought cats were arrogant and aloof, but I was wrong or maybe we just got a “cog” (catdog).
Feel free to leave any comments, thoughts or experiences you’ve had on adopting a cat. If I’ve left anything out, please also feel free to add suggestions!