Five Things You Should Know Before Getting a Cat
This episode of Vet Chat, Dr. Ryan Llera discusses the five things we should know before getting a cat.
June is a fantastic time and the beginning of summer, but did you also know it’s Adopt A Shelter Cat month? Yes, your local shelter is probably overrun with kitties just looking for a home where they can be fed, feel safe & secure, and give you love in return. Before you add a cat to your family and let them take over, here’s some things you should know.
1) Your cat needs to see the vet at least once a year
Even your indoor cat can have health problems. Cats can be the ultimate master at hiding themselves or hiding an illness. While you will likely be watching diligently for any signs of illness, sometimes once you see it, the problem has been going on for awhile and it may be more difficult to recover. Your veterinarian can help detect problems early through their annual exam and wellness blood tests to try and prevent problems or slow them down….but only if you take your cat to be seen.
2) Bathroom preferences may vary
We have a few rules in veterinary medicine about litter boxes. First, cats are different. Some like covered ones, others like uncovered. Some are okay about the size of the box but some want more real estate. Scented vs. unscented litter. Don’t make too many changes at once but it may take some time to figure out if there are urinary issues. Secondly, the rule of box numbers is n +1…you should have one litterbox per cat you have plus one extra.
3) Keeping your cat indoors is not cruel
Many people worry that keeping cats indoors doesn’t allow them to live happy or natural lives. It doesn’t have to be that way and indoor cats are much safer from the hazards the outdoors can present. To make life better, provide various forms of enrichment – scratching posts, different kinds of toys, a cozy place for them to sit by a window or up higher to survey their kingdom, and maybe a nice bit of greenery in the form of cat grass or a catnip plant.
4) Try out your botany skills
Speaking of plants… You might not think some of those flowers or leaves look appetizing but your cat may decide to try them out. No, cats are not vegetarian or vegan (they’re carnivores) but they generally like to sample plants due to smell, texture, and sometimes the plant moves if they swat it. Many plants out there may cause self-limiting signs like vomiting, diarrhea, or salivation but others such as some lilies or other flowering plants can cause kidney failure, seizures, or heart arrhythmias. Check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s website to see if the plants you have are problematic for your feline friend.
5) “In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” – Terry Pratchett
Yep, I mentioned earlier that your cat may take over the home. While it may not seem obvious at first, kitty will dictate how life in the home runs. When they eat (except I plead with you to follow a meal feeding schedule), where they sleep, how much fur to help you accessorize your work outfits… Go easy on them, come to an agreement, and don’t get mad at your new feline friend if they do something you don’t approve of.
In closing, cats are remarkably curious, independent, and lovable animals. I’ve always felt no home is complete without a cat (except maybe in allergy cases but maybe you can try a Sphyx or Rex cat!). Before you add one to the family, make sure to heed the advice above to help your new cat settle in for a happy life!
Thank you Dr. Llera for keeping pet parents informed and aware of how we can help keep our cats the healthiest they can be!
Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic in Kingston, Ontario. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, 2 horses, and a rabbit. Ryan is also a regular guest writer for the Ontario SPCA blog. You can find more of his writing at drryanllera.com or see what else he is up to on Facebook & Instagram