You’ve got your family, friends and work responsibilities, and maybe even children who’ll be coming home from school soon. You’re pretty much set. But then you see a tiny kitten meowing for food at the end of the street. Or a big tabby rubbing his nose all over some poor dog while lounging on your front porch. Suddenly, your house isn’t such an empty place anymore.

What Am I Going to Do?

If you’re anything like many Americans, you may also worry about allergies, how long pets live (or don’t) and whether cats really make good pets. Some experts suggest you should get a dog instead of a cat if you want a loyal companion. Don’t fret too much, though no matter which direction you go, having a pet around will likely brighten your day.

Cats can be great companions, especially when you consider their low-maintenance nature. They’re not quite as needy as dogs, requiring less time for training and vet visits, and they often seem more laid back than their canine counterparts.

But why would anyone choose to bring a feline into their lives? Many people find comfort in the fact that cats don’t require nearly as much attention as dogs, and that they tend to be better suited to living indoors. However, there are many more benefits to owning a cat than simply being easier on your wallet. Read on to learn about what happens when you adopt Fluffy.

The Cat’s Meow

While some folks might disagree, cats rarely bark or whine, making them less intimidating to new owners. That said, cats still need lots of love and attention. Like any pet owner, you should spend time getting acquainted with your cat before bringing her home. Try taking your pet out to explore the neighborhood together. This will help ease your cat’s fears and give both of you an opportunity to become familiar with each other’s habits and personalities.

When you’re ready to introduce yourself to your new friend, always greet by approaching slowly. Most cats prefer silence until they feel comfortable enough to speak first. When you do approach, use a quiet tone and gentle movements. Remember that cats are sensitive creatures.

Though they may appear tough, they can sense fear and stress, so try to avoid startling them. Also, never punish your cat for urinating or defecating where she shouldn’t. It could lead to further problems, including aggression toward other animals.

Next, decide where your cat is going to call home. While cats make great indoor pets, you should consider the size of your household, and figure out if you have the proper space for a full grown cat. Older cats generally need more room than kittens, since they grow very quickly. In general, adult cats should be allowed to roam free within certain boundaries, such as a yard or garden.

Once you’ve figured out your cat’s needs, you must now prepare your home for him or her. Clean litter boxes regularly and keep fresh water available. Make sure to remove old bedding, toys and food dishes, as well as flea dirt and feces. Also, clean your floors thoroughly to prevent urine stains.

Next, determine what type of cat you’d like to own. There are several different varieties, ranging from small and sleek to large and round. To select the best breed for you, consult the American Association of Feline Practitioners Web site. Then, visit local shelters to meet potential felines.

With all these preparations made, you’re finally ready to bring your new kitty home. The next page contains information on what kind of cat suits you best.

Cat Benefits

Owning a cat is rewarding in many ways. Not only does your cat provide you with unconditional love, he or she can improve your health and happiness. Cats can lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk factors. Studies show that people who own cats are happier overall, and that this effect lasts long after ownership ends.

Finally, cats enrich our environment through their wastefulness. They eat a lot, producing tons of droppings per year, but they usually bury them wherever they please, leaving behind a natural fertilizer. Cats also produce odorless dander, meaning your carpet won’t smell nasty as long as you pick up after your furry friend.

However, cats aren’t perfect. Their independent natures mean you’ll have to play active role in their daily lives. For example, you should feed your feline friend regularly and provide adequate shelter. Your cat should receive regular checkups from the veterinarian, and you should follow instructions given for specific ailments and conditions.

Some people claim cats actually make better pets than dogs. Since cats typically don’t require housetraining, they can relieve themselves whenever and wherever they wish. Dogs, however, need to stay put during certain times and places. Cats also tend to be better at adapting to changes.

As long as you pay attention to your pet’s needs and remain consistent, your cat will probably adjust without issue.

Final Thought

One last note: If you already have another animal, such as a bird, fish or reptile, you should consider adding a cat. These types of pets can enhance your existing relationships and create additional opportunities for interaction. After all, we’re social beings, and having other animals around us helps us relate better with others.

Though cats can adapt perfectly to city life, they’re not meant for apartment life. Unlike cockroaches, mice or rats, cats don’t enjoy climbing walls or digging under doors. Plus, they dislike cramped spaces and may scratch furniture or carpets. Therefore, if you plan on keeping your cat indoors, you should consider renting a larger dwelling. Otherwise, your cat may resort to scratching objects around your property. ­

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