Deciding to become a first-time cat owner as an apartment dweller is a humongous decision. I mean on the surface owning a cat seems like easy-peasy. Most people are of the opinion that cats are better apartment pets and take less work than dogs. Here are some common misconceptions about being a cat parent:
- They don’t require a lot of interaction like dogs.
- They don’t mess up your furniture.
- You don’t have to exercise cats.
- Cats don’t require much care.
- Cats are cheaper to take care of
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It is my opinion these misconceptions are the reasons why a large portion of apartment cats end up being re-homed or abandoned. Being educated about cat ownership before owning a cat for the first time is important. In this article, I discuss the following:
- what you should know before getting your first cat
- best breeds for first-time owners
- purchasing vs adopting a cat or kitten
- bringing your cat home to your apartment for the first time
- essential tip on caring for a cat and cat advice
- cost of owning a cat
Should I Get a Cat?
Cats make wonderful apartment pets. There’s nothing like coming home after a hard day at the office and being met with such love and devotion from a sweet furbaby. However, there are some things to know before getting a cat and things you should consider before becoming a first-time cat owner while living in an apartment:
- Does your landlord allow cats? This right here is the first thing you need to find out before adopting or purchasing a cat. Most cat adoption centers will ask this question on the adoption application. Some centers will actually call your landlord to find out if having a cat is allowed.
- Do you have the time and the devotion needed to take have a cat in your life? I hate to be Debbie-downer with the voice of reason but owning a cat is a serious thing. You should look at it as a lifetime commitment because it really should be. Please, please don’t even consider it if you’re not in a stable place in your life. In the long run, it will be the cat that suffers the most.
- It also takes money to own a cat – I heard a cat adoption commercial the other day which stated: “…all I (cat) need is a can of tuna and a cardboard box”. Your new cat will need a lot more than a can of tuna and a cardboard box. More on that later.
- Be ready to share your space – No one talks about this but cats are very intrusive. At times you will feel like your apartment has been taken over by your cat with your sole purpose in life is paying rent and keeping the feeding dish full. Nothing will belong to you. Ever. Again. It’s the cat’s bed. It’s the cat’s laptop. It’s the cat’s socks. All of your living room furniture will be the property of your cat. It’s a cat’s world.
- You cat’s litter needs will take precedence over everything – And you will stay awake nights contemplating if your cat’s litter box is in a good place and wait…” is that smell coming from the litter box?” For more information on the best litter box for an apartment and where it should be placed, click here.
- Should I get a kitten instead of a cat? – Man, this is another big one that folks don’t talk about. Kittens are a lot of work. Kittens are a little fireball of energy; constantly on the move and getting into everything. Seriously, I recommend not adopting or purchasing a kitten, no matter how cute it looks, if you work a full-time job. A kitten has to be trained to do certain things (or not do certain things) such as litter box training, not to bite, proper socializing, etc. And most of all, kittens demand a lot of your time and attention. They must be carefully watched so that they don’t get into anything dangerous. The great thing about adopting a new kitten is that you will be instrumental in the development of its personality, which is kind of cool.
How to Get a Cat
Call me biased but I think cat adoption is the noblest act of kindness a human can show for one of God’s creatures. Besides, why buy a cat from a pet store or a cat breeder, spend a shit load of money on a pedigree (unless you want a show cat which could be worth the initial investment) when there are tons of cats out there who would benefit from your loving home.
And what’s the benefit for you? The reward of this relationship is having that ball of fluff meeting you at the door, greeting you with unconditional love. Who doesn’t need that after a crappy day at work? The unbiased, uncomplicated (well, sort of) love of your cat. Ain’t nothing like it. Here’s how to buy a cat through adoption:
Getting a cat
I recommend checking the ASPCA website. The ASPCA has a national database of cats available for adoption. You can search by zip code, breed, qualities you might be looking for in a cat, etc. Here are the steps:
- Go to ASPCA.org
- Click on the tab labeled “local shelters”
- Scroll down to “Adoptable Cats in Your Local Shelter” then click.
- Type in your zip code
- Find the cat you’re interested in, click on the picture.
- The cat of your choice is just a car ride away.
How to adopt a cat from a shelter
Now that you’ve done your research and settled on one cat (or two or a kitten), the next step is to visit the shelter to get a look at your potential cat, up close and personal. Also, the shelter is going to want to make sure you’re a suitable choice for your new cat. The adoption process usually goes something like this:
- Fill out an application
- provide proof of address
- a copy of your apartment lease or condo policies regarding cats
- The shelter will provide some alone time to get to know your cat. The shelter will be checking your interaction with the cat.
- Don’t be surprised if you don’t take your adorable little feline home right away. Some shelters require a home inspection before they release your new cat to you.
- How much does a cat cost when adopting? Cat adoption fees can run anywhere from $50 on up. How much does a kitten cost to adopt? Kittens usually start at $100. There might be additional fees for identification tagging, spaying/neutering procedure, shots.
- Make sure to cat proof your cat’s new home before bringing him home.
If you are going to be away from home a great deal, a better option is adopting an adult cat. An adult cat doesn’t require as much work as a kitten. They have already developed their personality (good or bad) and are usually less energetic than kittens. Even though your adult cat is more independent it doesn’t mean that you should slack when it comes to love and attention. Cats are social creatures. A cat that constantly misbehaves might be trying to gain the attention that it craves.
Bringing your kitten home (or cat) for the first time
How do you feel about sharing your living space with a cat? You will have to modify your house to accommodate your new cat. There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve until you and your new cat adjust to each other. Just like any relationship, there’s going to be ups and downs. Be prepared, flexible, patient, and loving. Here are first-time cat owner supplies you will need when introducing a new cat to your apartment:
- cat food or kitten food
- cat dish for water and food
- cat litter
- cat litter box
- Litter mat
- a few cat toys
These cat supplies will be what you’ll need initially when bringing your cat home, for the first time to your apartment. As time goes on you might want to add these additional cat products:
Cost of owning a cat
Being a cat owner cost money. I read somewhere that it cost about $300 a year to own a cat. I think it’s more like $600. Here are some initial things you need to consider when bringing your cat home for the first time.
Cat food – one of the most important decisions you will make for your new pet. There are so many choices out there. It can get confusing. The right choice is to always choose healthy cat food.
Cat litter – This is the second biggest choice you will make for your cat. The first thing you want to think about is the type of cat litter. The choices are non-clumping or clumping cat litter.
Yearly checkup/emergency visits at the veterinarian – I recommend purchasing cat medical insurance.
You’ve got to go into this new relationship thinking “lifelong commitment”. This goes hand in hand with having realistic expectations. If you think that this is something that you can’t commit to long-term then you need to re-think becoming a cat owner.
Owning a cat can be rewarding and fun. However, it can be frustrating and a pain in the ass, especially if you are dealing with a cat that has behavioral issues. The way to deal with this is to have patience, be persistent and work with your cat on modifying the behavior.
As a new cat owner, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Or better yet, have no expectations, whatsoever. How are you going to feel about your new cat climbing up on your furniture or using your nice couch as a scratching post? Are you going to be okay with your cat climbing into your bed? What if your new kitten poops on your carpet? How are you going to feel about having to clean out the litter box? And speaking of cat litter, be prepared; it gets everywhere.
How do you feel about sharing your living space with a cat? You will have to modify your house to accommodate your new cat. There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve until you and your new cat adjust to each other. Just like any relationship, there’s going to be ups and downs. Be prepared, flexible, patient, and loving.