Cat Owner’s Responsibility
When considering whether to add a cat as a new family member, you may want to first consider a cat owner’s responsibility. A cat is not just a living ornament for your house-although it may complement it beautifully-there are many things to consider when buying a cat. The responsibility for rearing a healthy, happy kitten, and for maintaining the health and well being of an adult cat, rests solely with you. Cats have a life expectancy of 10-15 years. With luck and proper care, a cat can live on into its twenties.
Are you prepared for the constant expense, of food, litter and occasional veterinary bills, over that period of time? Cats do cost money to feed-they are not garbage disposal units who can survive only on scrapes. Neither are they mousers who get their nutrition from occasional catches. Even the healthiest cat need’s veterinary inoculations regularly against the deadly cat-killer diseases. This is true whether the cat in question is a free street cat or an expensive purebred cat.
Another factor, is that different states and cities have different legislation, about the liabilities and duties of cat-keepers. Find out what your local regulation requirements are. Make sure you know whether you are legally responsible or otherwise for your cat’s actions, whether it needs a license or must wear a rabies tag. You must raise and handle your cat so that injury to others, destruction to their property, or imposition on their rights does not occur.
To have a relationship that is mutually satisfying, you must do more just than fill the cat’s food dish, pet the cat briefly, clean out the litter box and disappear.
Are you a calm, tolerant person or will you become hysterical if your kitten decides to do gymnastics on your drapes, breaks grandmother’s antique vase or has potty mishaps on your new bedspread? If you think you can put up with all these minor annoyances calmly, then a cat will be happy in your home.
For instance, testing for Feline Leukemia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus costs $54.00 + a $17.50 office call, the above vaccines are $9.00 each + a $17.50 office call. Two Leukemia shots are needed spaced a month apart. Yearly boosters will be needed after the initial shots are given, for the Distemper combination and rabies as required by local regulation. The rabies shot is $6.00 + your office call. Yearly UR boosters are $7.00 + your office call. Your cat’s system won’t tolerate being injected with several vaccines at once. Plan on returning to your veterinarians office several times to complete the series of vaccines. Spaying a female is $73.00, male neutering is $68.00. A fecal test is $7.00. Worming medication price varies depending on the type used. Dental calls are $55.00 + the office cal and this can include pulling a tooth or cleaning the teeth. These prices were compiled from a rural area; in a populated area you can expect the prices to be higher.
Certainly, cats eat a better balanced diet on a daily basis than their owners! Never feed a generic cat food from the grocery store. Feed a name brand commercial food, appropriate for the age of your cat. Your veterinarian can recommend a suitable diet. The cost of one twenty-pound bag of high quality dry cat food is approximately $27.50 depending on the brand. Expect to purchase two to three bags a year per cat. Don’t forget the expense of your cat litter, which also varies depending on the type you use.
Lack of regular grooming is more apparent in long-haired cats, but even cats with short coats benefit from regular grooming. Grooming will decrease the amount of hair shed in the house. Some cat lovers say a cat should never be bathed. Others say they should be bathed monthly. Let your eyes decide. If your cat looks dingy, then its coat could use the help of some soap and water. Be prepared for your cat to put up a fight. Cats’ nails should be checked weekly and clipped as needed. You can do this yourself or you can have your vet do it. It’s so much cheaper to learn to do it yourself.
Children must be taught not to be rough with their kitty. Cats do not like rough handling, or having their tail and whiskers pulled. Children are scratched or bitten because they abused the cat, “and what is the first thing mother does,” she disciplines the cat. His only defense when he is being hurt, is to bite or scratch. Punishment only confuses the cat, he won’t understand why he is being scolded. Cats and children can live happily and enjoy each other if the parents teach the children how to treat the cat and they make sure the cats’ needs are not violated.
Scenario # 1 – Now you have a cat and you decide its time for a family vacation; what about the cat? Some cats like to ride in cars, others don’t. Take your cat out for a trial ride or two before a long trip. Ten hours of a yowling cat is not a pleasure trip. Boarding him might be less stressful. If your cat had his choice, he’d probably choose to stay home. Ask a friend or neighbor to drop by the house daily and care for him.
# 2 – Aunt Betty called, she is coming to visit bringing along Tiger, her indoor/outdoor roving cat. You must be firm with Aunt Betty, risk hurting her feelings by telling her, she is welcome to visit but Tiger is not. It’s your job to make sure your cat does not come in contact with any other cats because you don’t know what diseases the other cat could be carrying.
# 3 – You bought a new house and moving day has arrived. Make sure that the cat is carefully shut up well before the moving men arrive. Cats have a great habit of disappearing during the moving commotion and not turning up again. Many things can disturb your cat, such as moving, a new item in the house, divorce, etc. Stressing a cat can result in illness or behavior problems.
Cats are uniquely sensitive to many medications; therefore, don’t attempt to treat your cat yourself using medications intended for humans or your dog. These medications which are helpful in people and dogs may actually kill your cat. Cats do not have “nine lives” as is alleged in the time-honored myth. If your cat has signs of illness, the sooner proper treatment is begun, the better off your cat will be.
# 4 – What happens when your cat becomes a senior citizen? Will you still love and need him? A six-year-old cat is in human years 46 years old. An older cat needs its human friends even more than before. It will respond with love when treated with consideration. When you take on a kitten, it’s a lifetime commitment and should include old age assistance from you, the beneficiary of its trust, love and companionship. Consider all these factors and decide if you really want to take on the responsibility of keeping a cat. After all, it is s a cat owner’s responsibility for rearing a healthy, happy kitten, & for maintaining the health and well being of an adult cat.
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