Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cat or no cat - that is the question

Actually the question really should be "cats or no cats". Oh dear, I need some help.

Basically, we have wanted a pet for ages. Living in a flat where pets weren't allowed and with no access to outside space meant is was a complete no-no. But we now live in a house, so what's stopping us? Well, quite a few things actually.

After dog-sitting the neighbour's dog a couple of weeks ago, we realised a pet really would be a lovely addition to our home. We gave it some thought, looked at information on a local rescue centre's website and last week, we even went to visit a couple of cats, two sisters, that matched our "criteria" (sorry, I hate having to use that word in this context). (For the record, we'd both prefer a dog but full time jobs and commuting mean that's just not an option unfortunately).

The cats were gorgeous, that's not the problem. Actually, it might have been easier if they'd been moody little shits, we should have just thought, forget about it, it's just not for us. But they were terribly friendly and looked a lot of fun.

So here is our problem. We're just not sure whether to take the step or not. Pets make great additions to a family, but are we ready for the commitment yet? And there are so many downsides that we just can't shake off....

  • having to give up some amount of cleanliness in the house. Cats climb everywhere and you just don't know what they've been up to when you're out at work all day
  • having to deal with cat hair getting everywhere
  • feeling a little nervous about leaving them on their own in our new house for about 10 hours each day...
  • having to compromise on the type of carpet we had our eye on because apparently you can't have loop carpet with pets...
  • the financial commitment is quite large and maybe not the best timing, having just bought a new house and everything. There will be the food, the litter, the vet bills, the cost of jabs and chipping
  • the extra worry when organising a holiday (and possible expensive bill at the cattery...)
  • Mr Petit Filoux is most probably allergic to cats. Not a great deal, but maybe enough to make the whole idea have to go away entirely
  • not knowing where we could fit the litter tray. The house is rather small and there just aren't that many options...
  • having to clean up after them if they've been ill on carpet/ furnishings
  • the risk that they might scratch wooden flooring and soft furnishings
  • the possibility that they'll dig up flowers/ plants in the garden
I love cats but all these things are making us think twice about it. I know this sounds like a list from hell, but they're all things we have to consider and accept if we do indeed decide to adopt some cats.

What's your opinion on the matter? Any tips or suggestions?


PinkCatJo said...

Cat! Cat! Cat! or should I say, Chat! Chat! Chat!

Once you've got one you'll never look back. There is the possibility that they'll be a bit of a pickle but you never know what they'll be like and it is worth it when they snuggle up with you and purr! x

Heather said...

I urge caution. We got our rabbits too soon and are struggling to cope with them, they're quite troublesome actually. Really think about it before you do it because you can't really undo it.

Anonymous said...

As I am owned by five cats and three dogs (and that's just the indoor animals) I'm probably not the best person to advise but I would heartily support PinkCatJo!

I would think about getting two cats rather than one, especially if you are both out at work. Either get two kittens from the same litter, or if you are going to a rescue home get two that have come together. Cats can be pretty picky about their friends and you don't want two that don't get on.

A little tale of encouragement. Many many eons ago when we lived in a flat in the centre of Glasgow I knew a dog was out of the question but I finally badgered my husband into getting two kittens. He was not enthusiastic. The day we got the call to pick them up we were painting the bathroom but so unenamoured of the cat idea was he that he offered to stay and finish the bathroom. I made him come with me, and the first time Islay wobbled across the floor to him he was smitten. I was relegated to third in his love list by two kittens from Kirkintilloch. That was 20 years ago and now he is fully converted to pets!

The Littlest House said...

I wouldn't be without our two, but I think you have to be able to turn a blind eye to the hair - it does end up over everything, even though we tried to mitigate this by getting short-haired cats. The biggest thing holding us back for a while was not being able to just leave for a couple of days away but having to arrange cat sitters. Friendly neighbours help. It is a big decision, but if you gave a home to these cats you wouldn't regret it for a moment.

Lina said...

Personally, I'm not a cat lover, but it sounds like you've thought of everything and know what you're getting into. Good luck!

Lizzy said...

You have forgotton something! What about when they bring you presents? Like dead rats on the doorstep, dead mice on the doorstep or even live mice into the kitchen?
If you don't mind that then get them!!!

Anonymous said...

I love my cats - which is why I have them. You seem to be uncertain about if you like them or not. Cats or any animal deserve the best. They are not a commodity - not saying here that you think they are, but should be welcomed as part of the family. If you are really dog people then a dog is what you want (and I appreciate it isn't possible as it isn't for most people's lifestyles these days sadly). A cat is not a second choice option as I think that is unfair. Get an animal at all only if you really really want it. They are for life - which can be a long time.

Cats mess up gardens, scratch up all your furniture and carpets (ruining it in many instances). They annoy your neighbours etc. But I wouldn't be without my two as I love them dearly. My house is a shambles which is in part due to them. However, for me that is a deal worth making as they are priceless and a wonderful priviledge. If you cannot cope with the down sides with out impinging on their natural behaviours too much then I emplore you not to get one. If you would love it and look after it and keep it safe in a kind and caring environment that can adapt towards it, then do get one.

And the hair!! it gets everywhere and you will never look properly smart again - not without a great deal of trouble anyway. But please don't be one of those people that stop their pets ffrom going into most rooms in their house and essentially keep them outside. That is unkind and uwelcoming.

Believe me, cats are beautiful and wonderful to have around you. What ever the perceived negatives the pluses are so many more.

Finally, cats can be cute and cuddly or aloof and seperate and you don't get to choose. They are all different. Some are lap cats and some are decidedly not. They must be accepted and loved for what and who they are.

Hazel said...

I think you are right in thinking carefully about all these issues as they are issues!! But all said, cats are great. I have two. One moggy outdoor cat who I hardly ever see and one indoor posh Ragdoll cat who never goes out and sheds her fur everywhere and yes they do jump up and no you can't tell them off. They are very independent creatures - not like a dog - which is great on one hand as they don't need so much attention. My advise would be to get 2 kittens from the same litter so they can grow up together and keep each other company when you are out. Get moggies - not posh cats so you can let them out to do their lavatory. Good to invest in a cat flap. I do love my cats :) I would get pet insurance as well if they are kittens as in my experience problems can become very expensive. Though not as expensive as dogs. xxx

The Curious Cat said...

I'd say cat, cat, cat - go for it! BUT, I'd hate for you to turn around a few months down the line and have to give them away...Maybe wait a little while if you're not sure right now. You have plenty of time...if you're having all these doubts then maybe now is not quite the

Ali said...

If you're cat lovers, go for it. Yes, there's fur and some scratching, but they sort of outweigh the negatives. But I would think v. carefully about getting two. We did, because of the company angle, but in spite of coming from the same home previously, they hate each other. Plus all the vet stuff is double the cost. Believe me, your cat is unlikely to be lonely while you are at work.
We do a reciprocal holiday feeding thing with our cat owning neighbours, which saves a fortune in cattery bills.
We have a flap, but a litter tray too and we keep it in the bathroom.

Ana said...

I'm a big cat fan and I started off this comment responding to your bullet points but to be honest, having read them all through, they don't seem to be for you, at least at the moment.
A lot of your concerns are unfounded in my opinion and you sound a bit like you're making excuses not to have them so if you are that worried that they will ruin your house (I really don't believe they will) then I think you have answered your own question.

If you do get them, definitely get them chipped, make sure they're nutered, get a cat flap and train them to understand what behaviour is acceptable and what isn't (use a plant mister). You could also get them on a Friday evening then you have the w/e to keep and eye on them in the house. Keep them confined to one or two rooms to start off with and keep them in for the first couple of weeks so that they learn that your house is their new home before they go out. Also go out with them the first few times and do it before feeding so they don't go too far and come back for dinner.

Anonymous said...

We have a cat, and she is confined to one room of the house - the utility room - while we are out. The best thing about the cat is that she keeps the mice away.


The Girl said...

As usual, coming in late to the party but chipping in none the less.

Sounds to me as if it might be worth waiting a wee while before you get one because you don't sound overly certain really.

All those points are valid and I read them and thought "Why on earth have we ever had cats in our house?!" but I guess you just overlook them. I guess it's the same with babies - if you listed all the potential difficult/bad things that come with them we'd be the least populated planet ever!

My Mum keeps the cats in the kitchen to avoid any running amok about the house.

I would say get 2 if they're going to be left on their own all day, that's if you're getting kittens, an older cat will be fine on their own all day.

Check out the allergic thing though - you don't want Poor Mr Filoux sneezing his brains out all day long!

mooncalf said...

We got our cats a year ago and I had a lot of the same concerns that you did.

Our cats are not naughty cats so I can confirm that your house will never be completely clean or unscratched ever again. The furniture will have a 'lived-in' look. The garden will be dug up. Your stuff will all have to be stored out of reach and sometimes you will forget and sometimes knitting will die.

They will get cat litter on your floor and vomit and have tummy upsets and hairballs from time to time.

Financially, a lot of the expense is at an early stage. After that we pay £50 a month into a fund for food and litter and wormer, £22 for insurance. Catteries are not cheap (£18 per night) but they do take all the worry out of going on holiday.

So they're messy and expensive and destructive. But I can't imagine living without them now. When they're not there the house feels empty. They warm and funny and lovely and playful and friendly and adorable and serious and amazing. They make me laugh out loud every single day and I've smiled ten times as much since they came to live with us.