When compared to dogs, cats are typically viewed as the low maintenance pet option. Cats are smaller, more independent, and if indoor, do not need to be taken outside for walks and restroom breaks. As they are usually smaller than dogs, cats also cost less as they do not need to eat as much and may not need as extensive care (although unexpected costs can also come up). Cats are generally quieter than dogs, and they keep themselves clean. Despite this, adopting a cat is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly; while their care varies from dogs, they still require your love and attention. In some ways, cats may require more work than dogs, and ultimately, it’s up to your preference on which animal you prefer to have as a pet.
The intent of this article is not to dissuade you from adopting a feline friend but to ensure you are aware of the responsibility. Cats are adorable and amusing creatures, and they are perfect for those who would love a companion when they are at home!
Wet Food over Dry Food
While dogs do well on dry food, cats are recommended a wet diet. As wet food will perish if left out too long, this will require you to likely feed your cat twice a day. Wet food is also, as you can imagine, messier than dry food, so you will have to clean their plates (and the surrounding area) more frequently. A food mat is definitely recommended unless you have an easy-to-clean floor that you do not mind wiping up if your cat makes a mess.
You might expect dogs to beg for food, and it’s the same with cats. Cats might not be as demanding, but if they’re hungry, they might follow you around and chirp at you until you give them their desired meal.
Like any pet, it is recommended to bring your cat to the vet for checkups. Rabies shots should be given regularly, and there are shots to prevent feline distemper that are recommended as well. Your vet can also prescribe monthly medicine for heartworms, fleas, and ticks. If you have an indoor cat, your cat will be less likely to run into pests like fleas/ticks, but it can always happen. While my cat takes heartworm preventatives, I don’t give her flea and tick medicine unless I notice an issue.
While some cats love the vet, some cats do not. Personally, my cat is not a fan and has had to get sedated for her appointments. As you can imagine, this adds extra cost to the visit.
One of the main perks of owning a cat is that you do not have to take them outside to use the restroom. This can be a relief on rainy and cold days when you both would rather stay indoors. While this can be a huge advantage over dogs, it comes along with disadvantages. You will have to clean your cat’s litter box regularly, and it is not uncommon for cats to kick some of the litter outside of the box. Not only will the litter have to be scooped out often, but you will have to sweep/vacuum around the area frequently as well. Your cat (and your nose) will appreciate you for keeping their litterbox clean.
Cats may be smaller and appear less destructive than dogs, but they can certainly wreak havoc on your house if you do not teach them otherwise. Kittens especially might want to bite blinds, plants, electrical cords, and any other furniture pieces that you have until they are trained not to. Most cats are skilled climbers, so even higher placed items might not be safe. Some cats seem to knock over vases, food, plants, etc. simply for the joy of it.
Another huge issue? Their claws. You should make sure to trim your cat’s nails regularly, but even then, they might leave scratch marks on walls, doors, furniture, and couches. Kittens are more likely to this, so if you wish to skip this phase completely, you may want to look into adopting an older cat with a calm disposition.
Aside from destroying furniture, it is also important to be conscious of any small spaces your cat could trap themselves in. Cats are curious, so if you leave a drawer open, they might hop in to investigate. Make sure you don’t accidentally enclose your cat into a trapped space!
Some cats want to be left alone more than others, but even though they are independent, cats need attention too. The amount and type of attention will vary from cat to cat, but they may want to cuddle with you as you write, play fetch with cat toys, chase a cat wand around the room, etc. Every animal needs enrichment activities, so make sure you have the time to play with your cat and provide toys for them to interact with.
Cats do not need to be bathed as often as dogs as they groom themselves. Cats with longer fur do have to be brushed, however, and most cats do shed. They might not shed as much as dogs, but you will still likely find cat hair on your things.
Due to their self-grooming, cats are also more notorious for having hairballs. It’s normal for cats to throw up hairballs on occasion, but don’t worry-this should not happen frequently. If it does, it may signify there is an underlying health issue that your cat may be experiencing.
Overall, cats are likely easier to live with and take care of compared to most dogs. They do present their own needs, however, so new cat owners should expect to take time-and money-to care of their cat. Every cat has a different personality, so if you’re worried about energy and social levels, you can speak with local adoption organizations to find the perfect cat for you. All cats will need to be taken to the vet, fed daily, and interacted with. The litter box will need to be cleaned, along with any other messes they may make. You’ll have to watch them for any health/behavior issues and address any concerns with your vet.
Aside from the responsibilities, you can expect a cat to entertain you and bring happiness into your home. They may want to lay on your laptop while you type, rub their head affectionately against your leg, or keep watch by the window. They can even do a great job of keeping your home bug-free. Some people prefer cats, some people prefer dogs. Consider your preference and how their varied care would fit with your lifestyle.
Pets of any kind are wonderful companions to have, but it’s important to consider the responsibilities and to put careful consideration into adopting a pet. As long as you take care of them, pets will return the favor and add joy and meaning to your life.