If you’re house proud, you need to ask yourself just how much you want a cat.
If the answer is “More than I want a clean carpet” then go ahead, but be prepared for their hair to get everywhere, especially if your cat is a longer-haired breed.
Invest in a lint roller for clothes and upholstery, a vacuum suitable for pet hair removal, and try to keep them off the sofa.
If someone in your house suffers from pet allergies, it’s not the hair itself that they are reacting to, but the proteins from saliva and sweat in the ‘dander’ – dead skin that’s attached to cats’ fur and body. There’s excellent advice online at Allergy UK about coping with pet allergies.
Most of the time cats are pretty fastidious and don’t like to go to the toilet anywhere other than their designated place, usually a litter tray or outdoors. When feeling threatened, a cat may spray around the house to prove a point.
Introducing another pet, a new baby, or even just a change in the layout of the house, can make a cat feel insecure.
If your cat starts spraying or toileting in unusual places, and you've ruled out any health problems, you could try to reassure them by giving them lots of attention and encourage them to use their tray by giving them treats and lots of fuss.
Cats are naturally inquisitive creatures, and if you've ever owned one, you’ll know that they don’t like to be kept indoors all the time.
A happy cat will be in and out of the house as cats thrive on mental stimulation. They usually need to explore their surroundings whilst getting plenty of exercise.
If you take on a kitten, you’ll have to introduce them to the big world outdoors gradually – and will probably find that they’re quite nervous at first.
Once they get brave, though, there will be no stopping them.
Cats have absolutely no road sense. If you can, try to make it difficult for them to get to places where they could get run over.
They think they are doing us a favour when they drop a chewed rodent at our feet, so it’s something cat owners have to learn to get used to.
Cats are natural hunters, and there are many theories about why cats like to gift us dead animals and birds.
One is that a mother cat teaches her kittens to hunt by bringing them dead prey to eat, and as they get older she brings home injured prey and kills it in front of them so that they know what to do.
She thinks you’re a kitten – or a rubbish hunter!
A cat is a very intuitive companion, and although we don’t know how, they just seem to know when you've had a bad day. Expect to find a cat on your lap, purring away when you feel a bit fed up.
Cats also seem to know when you need to be left alone, and will happily leave you to it. There was even a touching story in the Boston Globe about Oscar the cat, who lived in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, USA.
Oscar had an uncanny ability to just ‘know’ when residents were about to pass away, and would appear in the last hour of their lives to keep them company. Cute – or a little bit creepy?
Are you a cat owner? What do you wish you’d been told about the ups and downs of having a feline friend?
(Originally published on 15/07/2014)