Adopting a cat is a lifetime commitment. When you bring a cat into your family, you also accept responsibility to care for her health and well-being throughout her lifetime. This level of commitment should be obvious to cat guardians, but sadly, the number of cats being returned to shelters for health or behavior issues indicates that it is not.
Commit to the relationship for the life of the cat
If your life circumstances don’t allow you to commit for the life of the cat, you may want to consider volunteering with a cat rescue group or fostering instead.
Keep only the number of cats you can provide for
For most cat lovers, it’s hard to resist that adorable kitten, or the elderly cat in need, but make sure you have the resources to provide proper care and companionship before you increase your feline family.
Provide a stimulating and enriched environment
Providing a stimulating and enriched environment, regular playtime and interaction with the humans in the household goes a long way toward keeping your cats happy and avoiding behavioral issues.
Caring for a cat requires an investment of time and money
Cats need a healthy, premium quality diet and regular veterinary care. Both cost money. But more than that, cats need time and companionship. Cats have a reputation for being aloof and are often mentioned as the perfect pet for busy professionals, because they can be left alone all day. This may be okay if you have more than one cat, but to leave a single cat without human companionship for long hours does not make for a happy cat and home.
Establish and maintain a relationship with a veterinarian
Cats are notoriously underserved when it comes to receiving veterinary care. A recent study by Bayer Animal Health has shown that dogs see the veterinarian twice as much as cats. At a minimum, healthy cats need an annual exam; cats seven years or older should be seen by a veterinarian twice a year. If at all possible, find a vet who specializes in cats, or look for a cat-friendly practice.
Make alternative arrangements if caring for your cat is no longer possible
Nobody wants to think about becoming ill, incapacitated, or dying, but responsible cat guardians think ahead and make arrangements for their cat’s care when they can’t. There are a number of things you can do to ensure peace of mind not just for yourself, but for family and friends who may not know what to do in the event of your death or any other emergency, such as including arrangements for your cat in your will.
Sharing your life with a cat is a privilege as well as a responsibility.
This article was previously published on Answers.com, and is republished with permission.