Cats get a bad reputation for being aloof, but the truth of the matter is, they are fantastic pets – there are actually a little over 36 million households in the U.S. that own at least one cat. But even though cats are considered low-maintenance in comparison to dogs, this does not mean that they don’t require proper care, love and attention. So, before bringing a feline companion into your home, do some research so you can choose the right breed to fit your lifestyle while making sure you’re prepared to take on the responsibilities (including the financial ones) that come with being a loving and conscientious pet owner.

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Want to be a great cat owner? Follow this advice…

Choosing A Breed

While it’s all too easy to be drawn to a cute face, you should consider choosing a specific breed depending on your lifestyle. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering what type of feline to bring into your life.

Does anyone in your household have allergies? Even if you don’t think you have allergies, it’s always a good idea to get tested even before starting to look for a cat. Allergies are typically caused by a protein (Fel d 1) produced in the cat’s saliva, urinary and reproductive tract and sebaceous glands. Females and light-colored cats carry less of the protein than males and dark-colored cats. The theory that shorthaired cats are better than long-haired cats for those with allergies may not be completely accurate as fluffier cats can’t hold the protein as close to their skin.

Do you have a baby or young children? Whether you currently have young children or you plan on having a baby in the next few years (keep in mind that the average lifespan of a cat is 12-18 years), breed should be top of mind. The best type of cats when children are in the picture are sociable, laid-back, adaptable, not prone to biting or clawing when touched, not territorial, and tolerant of loud noises and sudden movements. Breeds to consider include: ragdoll, Persian, American shorthair, Birman, Maine Coon and Manx, among others.

Are you away from home a lot? Contrary to what you may think cats really don’t like to be left alone all day without other pet or human interaction. If your job has turned you into a road warrior, a cat (or any pet for that matter) may not be a good idea at all. For times when you have to work an extra-long shift or have an occasion that takes you away from your home for a period of time, hire a cat sitter to come feed and play with your furball. There are also boarding solutions available if you don’t have someone to watch your cat while you’re away on vacation.

Home Preparation

Before kitty comes home, make sure you have all the basics: food (check out online reviews to find the best brands), applicable dishes, a litter box and litter (lightweight, easy clumping, low-dust formulas are best), toys, a comfortable bed, a carrier, collar, leash, identification tags (consider getting a microchip as an increased safety measure), and treats.

The Adjustment Period

Some cats adjust faster than others — especially if they were previously strays or have been in and out of the shelter on more than one occasion — so don’t force your feline to be immediately social. You may find that your cat hides under the bed for a while, so don’t attempt to drag it out as you’ll only be causing more stress. In short, let the cat come to you. When it does, brushing is a great way to bond, provide pleasure and stress to relief to the cat, and reduce shedding.

If you immediately become an enthusiastic cat lover, take a step back before considering getting a companion for your feline friend. This is not always a good idea as some cats can become stressed, which can cause serious health problems. Always speak with your vet if you have any questions or concerns regarding your cat’s health or livelihood.

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