Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 9, 2023 by Crystal Uys


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, and is republished with permission.

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9 Comments on What Does Responsible Cat Care Mean?

  1. I completely agree! Our cat is a full member of the family. This is a great responsibility. Regular examination of the vet. We have British Shorthair. It is almost the same as child care. Cats are incredibly sensitive. When I do not pay attention to Simba, he is offended and demonstratively leaves. And when my stomach hurt, Simba came and lay down on my stomach. But don’t take the cat if you just want to play. You can play with them and become a volunteer at the shelter.

  2. This article should be shared as much as possible. People forget that they are getting older. People forget that cats are getting older. People forget that older cats need more care and have more need for expensive veterinary care.

    About 15 years ago, we had 35 rescue cats, which was our all-time high. (Some cats we had adopted ourselves. Some had been brought by our cat-sitter when we were out of town. Some had walked in. And some had been dropped off at our property.) Almost all of these cats were fairly young (born between 1997 and 2002) and, thus, relatively easy to care for.

    Meanwhile, many of these cats have died or had to be euthanized. (Some have also gone missing.) A few new cats were adopted over the years and 2 just recently. After losing 2 of our oldest cats last month (who, aside of frequent veterinary care, had needed the administering of Essiac tea, eye drops, treatment of skin cancer lesions, before they died), we presently have only 15 cats (of ages 6 to ages 19). And we barely cope. The oldest cat is on Essiac tea because of a suspected cancerous tumor. The newly adopted 2 tomcats (adopted at our [wildfire] evacuation place, last summer/fall) don’t get along with 3 of our 4 existing tomcats, who tolerated them at the evacuation place (where the newcomers, a stray and a cat who lost his humans, had owned the turf) but have been attacking them fiercely ever since we are back home at Happy Cats Ranch. All efforts to get them used to each other have failed. So we have to keep them apart, that is, rotate them between the (now cats’) guest room, the rest of the house, the garage, and the outdoors. A very energy-draining and time-taking task for people in their late seventies with lots of health problems! Add to this a deranged cat who can’t be allowed together with either group of tomcats (as she’ll hiss at them until they attack her). She is now residing in our home office (which is now requiring a litter box in the already crowded room with no access to the window for airing the room–sigh!)

    We love our cats and provide them with everything they need. This means that we ourselves miss out on our own requirements and especially leisure time.

    I can only urge everyone who adopts cats to count with increased requirements that come with old age of humans and animals, and also count with unexpected problems.

  3. I would break the bank to pay for veterinary costs, but only if I wasn’t making my cat suffer. Quality of life is a oft-used saying, but it’s what made us decide when Chuck was failing, and it was time to help him out of this life, as much as I broke our hearts. For as much as I miss him, I know that we did the right thing; we helped him when he first was diagnosed; we pilled him and took him to regular vet visits; we cooed over him and gave him his favorite things. Then, his heart in failure, we gave him freedom. THAT is the cost of loving a pet.

  4. I’m sure your readers already know this and are responsible cat guardians. But, when this does need to be shared with others. When I was with a rescue, it was heartbreaking to learn about cats being returned because people just didn’t take the time to work with their cats with behavior issues. And then there were the ones who expected a lifetime warranty with them and any illness, they would call asking for help paying vet bills. Or, they would just want to return them. 🙁

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