Is a cat right for you?
People with cats are known to have better general health, improved self-esteem and greater connection to their community. Whether you are a retiree, young professional or family, there will be a cat that is right for you.
For busy working people, cats can be the perfect pet as they are independent and often require much less attention than dogs. For people in high-pressured jobs, cats are known to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
For many people, their cats are integral members of the family. Children with cats have improved self-esteem and emotional development and learn great skills in taking on responsibility. They can also strengthen a child’s immune system.
Cats can provide wonderful companionship for the elderly and people who live alone. Data shows that older people with cats make fewer trips to the doctor and have better general health. Mature cats who are already house trained are particularly well suited to the elderly, as they are less demanding than kittens.
Choosing a cat
Given that your cat may be a part of your family for around 15 years, it’s important you choose one that will complement your lifestyle, house and family.
Kitten or mature cats?
While kittens make gorgeous pets, they require intense supervision during the first 6 months, so would not be suitable for anyone who is time-poor. Many working professionals and elderly pet owners prefer mature cats that are independent and house-trained. Kittens are also not recommended for families with children under 5 years.
Mixed or pure breed?
Like dogs, cats come in a variety of breeds. Persians are typically laid-back and sedentary, Bengals are extremely active, and Siamese are talkative. While cross-breeds are less exotic, they are generally much less prone to illnesses and genetic diseases.
Short or long hair
Long-haired cats are gorgeous to look at but shed frequently, especially in summer, which can be dire for people with allergies. They also require regular grooming. Short-haired cats still require some grooming (as it helps stimulate the oils in the fur), but are lower maintenance.
The benefits of adopting
Every year, more than 60,000 cats are euthenised in Australia. A common misconception is that animals in shelters are badly behaved. The reality is that many cats end up in shelters due to changes in their owner’s circumstances; such as divorce, relocation or aging owners. In truth, shelters have plenty of healthy and well-behaved cats and kittens who can be just as loving, intelligent, and loyal as purchased pets.
Many shelters have cats with special needs. They might be older, deaf, blind or have an illness that requires regular medication. Their condition doesn't affect the amount of love and pleasure they have to give; it just means extra commitment on your part to meet their needs for the rest of their lives.
Introducing your cat to other pets
While cats are generally solitary, there is no reason for them not to form some companionship with other pets in your family. Here are a few tips to make the transition smooth.
- Separate the new cat. When you first bring your cat home, give him or her time to adjust to their new environment before meeting the other pet/s.
- Give each pet an “area”. Keep each pet in a confined area that is safe. When you let the cat out, ensure the other pet is not present.
- Introduce them slowly. Introduce the pets slowly, first by introducing toys/bedding. When they finally meet, ensure it is for short, supervised encounters
- Move their “areas” closer. Gradually move the animals’ areas closer together. One animal will usually assert their dominance; let this happen. It is their natural way of creating order.
- Give it time. Getting pets used to each other can take time. Gradual change will usually produce the best long-term results.