#1 Who will be the official owner of this cat?
Ideally, you should never get a cat for someone other than yourself. If you purchase the cat as a Christmas gift for your child, just remember that the responsibility of caring for the animal will ultimately rest on you. Children almost never keep their promise to take care of the cat.
If the cat is not for you (and especially if they are not a part of your household), please remember this rule – never ever surprise someone with a gift cat. Unlike many other Christmas gifts, a cat has responsibilities attached to it. They may not be as ready for a cat as you think. If you are simply offering to pay for the cat’s adoption fees as a Christmas present, be sure to bring the person with you to choose the cat so they can find the one that is the best match for them. If you would like to surprise someone for Christmas, order them a singing telegram done by an Elvis impersonator instead. Trust me, they will be surprised.
#2 Are you ready for a furr-ever friend?
According to the ASPCA, the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 13-17 years. Cats do make it over 20 years occasionally too. That means if you get this baby kitten for your 5 year old daughter this year and the cat lives an average lifespan, you will be taking care of this cat until your daughter is 18-21 years old! Don’t forget – that cute baby kitten will mature into a full grown cat in a matter of months.
Animal shelters get a lot of cats and dogs relinquished to them starting in January because someone didn’t understand what they were getting into. That results in those poor animals being homeless again because of someone else’s poor planning. Don’t let reasons like “the cat scratches things” or “I forgot that someone in the house is allergic to cats” keep you from keeping your cat for its whole life time.
#3 How much will having a cat cost?
You will have to do some pricing at your local pet store and vets, but here are somethings you will need: cat carrier, litter box, litter, food/water dishes, cat food, cat toys, collar, and minimally, yearly vet visits. The ASPCA estimates that yearly food will cost $150 , $50 for toys and treats, $175 in litter, and $150 for vet visits. All in all, cats are not terribly expensive pets (unless you buy all the fancy toys and gadgets for them), but it is important to make sure that they fit within your budget.
#4 Do you have time for a cat?
Cats are very independent creatures, but they do need some time with you. Consider your lifestyle and make sure that there will be some time to snuggle and play. Don’t get a cat if you are unsure of the time you will have for it. If you plan to get a little kitten make sure you have extra time. Kittens are like babies and they need to be “raised” by you. Getting an older cat bypasses the kitten phase so you don’t need quite as much time for the cat. Having more than one cat can provide the cats with company while you are gone.
#5 What family members are already present in your household?
Is anyone in your household allergic to cats? How are you prepared to handle those allergies? Are there children in your household? Babies? Sometimes it is better to get a cat that is already an adult when you have small children because they are generally calmer and less prone to lashing out when their tail gets pulled. How about other pets in the household? Do you know how these pets will react to a newcomer? Do you have a plan for introducing your present pets to the new cat? Cats are often slow-to-warm. It may take a couple of weeks for them to get used to the other people and pets. The loving purrsonality of your new cat may not shine forth until it has made its peace with its new surroundings.
#6 Is this the best time to introduce a new cat to your house?
The holidays might be a great time for you, but not generally for cats. If you are planning on having a big bash at your house for Christmas or New Years, it might be a good idea to hold off on getting the cat until after the guests have gone. There will be enough anxiety placed on the new cat from simply moving into your house. Don’t make things worse for your new furbaby by making it deal with lots of new faces and changing scenery (decorations going up and coming down). Just give the family a “gift certificate” or stuffed animal cat for Christmas announcing that you will be getting a new cat in January and you will all go together to pick it out.
#7-9 Where will you get the cat? (The elements of this answer each count as one number because they’re important.)
#7 Pet Stores
Pet stores are one of the worst places to get a pet from. They often use “puppy mills” and “kitty mills” too. Go ahead and get your supplies there, those should be fine, but Playful Kitty can not endorse getting a kitty from a pet store. However, Playful Kitty does like pet stores that host rescue groups that can come in and adopt out animals. A great example of one of the bad pet stores is a store named Pollywood located in our area. Personally, I have cried after walking past this store. Many people in our area have called for a boycott against the store. To read stories or show your support for the boycott, please visit Boycott Pollywood Pets.
The rule of thumb when working with breeders is to take your time and get to know who you are dealing with. Some breeders do very well by their animals and others do not. Don’t settle for the first breeder you see, compare a few different ones. Make sure that the breeder has proper licensing according to your city, state, province, country, etc. Don’t buy from unlicensed breeders! Ask the breeder to tour the area where the cats are housed. If they allow it, take note of the enclosure, the space given to the animals, the cleanliness (there will always be some dirt), the food and water available, the breeding schedule (avoid breeders who breed the same animals constantly), and the way the animals react to the breeder’s presence. Breeders should be able to provide sufficient proof if the animals are purebred and not inbred. Follow your instincts; if it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Don’t choose a breed based on cost alone. Many people purchase a cat from a breeder because it was way cheaper than other breeders only to find out that the breeder was not legitimate and there are problems with the cat. Expect cats from breeders to be expensive.
#9 Adoption from an Animal Rescue *Playful Kitty Endorsed*
Adoption is the best way to get a cat. Hands down (or paws down). Cinco and Manna were both adopted! If you google “Animal Rescues (your city)”, plenty of options should come up. If you are in the U.S. , check out the Animal Rescue Facebook Directory to find rescues in your area. Why is adoption the best?
- You are helping a homeless cat! These cats have had a rough go of it having been on the street or abandoned by a previous owner. By adopting them, you are giving them a fresh start on life.
- Animal rescues have every kind of cat imaginable! You can find exactly the cat that is right for you whether it be young, old, long haired, short haired, big, small, any breed (even purebred), any purrsonality. If you don’t find the right one on the first try, come back in a couple of weeks because there are always new cats coming in.
- Often cats are housed in foster homes when they are placed in a rescue. This keeps the cat socialized and used to life in a house with people. Even in cases where cats are housed at centers, caregivers tend to take time to give each cat a little T.L.C. If you get a cat from a rescue, it will be ready to live in your home.
- Foster parents and caregivers of the cats get to know each one’s history and unique purrsonality. They are a great resource when choosing a cat. Ask them all of your questions and they can help you make the right match. In pet stores the workers usually don’t know anything about the animals.
- Rescues can guarantee the health of the cat you adopt! No surprises! Usually the rescue will make sure that all of the cat’s shots are up to date, the cat is spayed/neutered (if they are old enough), and any other medical needs are being cared for. If the cat is handicapped or special needs, they will let you know right away.
- Low cost! Animal rescues are non-profit organizations and they will allow you to adopt a pet at far lower prices than you will get from any breeder or pet store. Those prices include all of the veterinary care mentioned in the previous bullet point. Getting a cat spayed can cost $250 or more and many rescues will allow you to adopt for $150 or less!