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Thinking about getting a kitty...


MEmama
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What do I need to know?

We don't currently have pets. We had a dog ages ago, but not for 16 years or more. I haven't had cats since I was a kid and they weren't my responsibility (my brother assumed responsibility for one of them and it was subsequently eaten by a mountain lion... I'm reasonably certain I could have done a better job). 

This would be an inside kitty, definitely declawed. Eta: this is not up for debate.

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For one, you don't want to declaw your cat. It's excruciatingly painful for the cat and can cause a bunch of long-term health problems, including making it too painful for kitty to use the litter box, which can result in a kitty peeing everywhere else. Some cities have even made declawing illegal because it's terrible for the animal. If scratching isn't something you're willing to deal with, you might want to consider a different kind of pet. Scratching is behaviorally normal and necessary for cats, and not all of them will use a scratching post no matter what you do.

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14 minutes ago, Mergath said:

For one, you don't want to declaw your cat. It's excruciatingly painful for the cat and can cause a bunch of long-term health problems, including making it too painful for kitty to use the litter box, which can result in a kitty peeing everywhere else. Some cities have even made declawing illegal because it's terrible for the animal. If scratching isn't something you're willing to deal with, you might want to consider a different kind of pet. Scratching is behaviorally normal and necessary for cats, and not all of them will use a scratching post no matter what you do.

Sorry, I thought I was clear. It's not up for debate.

 

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I know you don’t want to debate it, but be aware that some vets refuse to do declawing. If you’re set on it I’d recommend looking for a cat to adopt who is already declawed or research a vet beforehand. Also, many shelters and rescue groups won’t adopt to anyone who plans on declawing. 

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We have 3 cats at this time, all with claws (2 are polydactyl so lots of claws) and all indoor/outdoor cats. All spayed. There have been several indoor/outdoor cats before them. So if you are only interested in information specific to indoor declawed cats, I have nothing to much to offer. 

I also should say I am more of a “dog person”—with the exception of one special soul mate cat some years ago.  

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I'd recommend looking for an already declawed cat. If you are getting one cat, you might want to think about having two litter boxes. I'm not sure what other info to tell you. My cat never overeats; rather she tends to be close to underweight. Therefore, I always have a bowl of food out for her. My sister's cat, on the other hand, would joyously eat all the food all the time. So my sister feeds her kitty only at certain times.

 

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4 minutes ago, Pen said:

What do you want to know?

 

The reality of having one. Lol

A few years ago we looked into getting a dog, but came to the ultimate conclusion that it would be quite like having a toddler, something I'm not remotely interested in at this stage of my life.

 Neither DH or I have ever had an indoor cat--what's the reality of litter boxes? Of annual vet care (expecting and being able to afford the unexpected as well)? Of taking daily allergy meds (DH)? Of leaving one alone when we go on short trips? I know it's all subjective...mostly we are just toying with the idea right now. Just looking to pick brains, you know? 

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4 minutes ago, barnwife said:

I'd recommend looking for an already declawed cat. If you are getting one cat, you might want to think about having two litter boxes. I'm not sure what other info to tell you. My cat never overeats; rather she tends to be close to underweight. Therefore, I always have a bowl of food out for her. My sister's cat, on the other hand, would joyously eat all the food all the time. So my sister feeds her kitty only at certain times.

 

Yes, it would be already. Thanks. :)

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3 minutes ago, MEmama said:

The reality of having one. Lol

 

Ah.   It depends extremely on the cat. Our 3 have radically different personality types, and all are extremely different than some former cats also.  They are rarely as interesting in pleasing a human as is a dog. 

 

3 minutes ago, MEmama said:

 

 Neither DH or I have ever had an indoor cat--what's the reality of litter boxes?

I do not like them, but we have them for when cats are inside.  Certainly better to have them than not unless you can train your cat to use human style toilet. 

3 minutes ago, MEmama said:

Of annual vet care (expecting and being able to afford the unexpected as well)? Of taking daily allergy meds (DH)? Of leaving one alone when we go on short trips? I know it's all subjective...mostly we are just toying with the idea right now. Just looking to pick brains, you know? 

 

Our cats do fine alone, but they would be outdoors then. That independence  is a cat advantage  

The soul mate cat went with me pretty much everywhere, camping, hiking,  as dogs now do. But our current and recent cats are more bonded to each other and the place than they are to the humans here. I can’t speak to an exclusively indoor cat being alone. 

I’d be wary of taking on an animal if someone in the family is known to be allergic to it.  

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Oh and cats seem to have addictive personalities sometimes. To foods and also to litter box litter. 

For example, We had used a particular type of litter and could not find it again. Cats refused to use new types of litter for a while. 

Soul mate cat refused to use any litter box ever. In bad weather he had to be let out to relieve himself and then let back in. 

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Given the allergies, it might be worthwhile to try fostering for a bit before adopting. You might also get a better sense of what life with a cat would be like, though I agree personality makes a huge difference. I've had cuddly lap cats and aloof energetic cats, though even the latter wanted to be near people, even if they didn't want to purr on a lap.

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Honestly? If one person is known to be allergic to cats, and you can't tolerate anything getting scratched by cat claws, I'd look at a different kind of pet. I'm not being snarky, but allergy meds often don't work fully, or stop workings nd then what do you do? And even declawed in the front, they can still put holes in things with the back claws when they jump up and down off of furniture. And no vets I know of will declaw all four feet anymore, it just messes up the cat too badly (I'm not trying to debate, but want to make sure you understand it is not like a claw trim, it is analogous to removing the tips of your fingers at the first knuckle...it's an amputation of part of the toe, not just the claw). Often declawed cats have arthritis issues later in life, and it isn't to be taken lightly. 

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This is a good time of year to adopt a cat, at least in our area. The shelters are packed with cats and kittens right now and there is a wide variety of ages and personalities available. We just adopted a 5-year-old cat who was declawed by her previous owner and then abandoned outside, poor baby.? 

We've never had a declawed cat before, and I didn't even realize she was until we got her home.

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42 minutes ago, Selkie said:

This is a good time of year to adopt a cat, at least in our area. The shelters are packed with cats and kittens right now and there is a wide variety of ages and personalities available. We just adopted a 5-year-old cat who was declawed by her previous owner and then abandoned outside, poor baby.? 

We've never had a declawed cat before, and I didn't even realize she was until we got her home.

Yes, there are lots of extra kitties available here from hurricane rescue. We aren't necessarily ready to jump, but might if persuaded. :)

The declawing thing is interesting. I think it used to be that essentially all indoor cats were declawed for practical (to humans) purposes; of course it would be cruel to disadvantage an outdoor cat that way. We won't consider an outdoor cat regardless.

Our humane society mentions which cats are already declawed on their website. 

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1 hour ago, heartlikealion said:

I'd look for a pre- declawed kitty if you're intent on one. There is probably one in a shelter somewhere that cannot live outdoors. 

As far as what to know... our cat is my first furry pet. Look at litter choices/prices. We use Precious Cat. If you suspect allergies in the household, do some testing before bringing one home. My ds tested very allergic to ours, but dh didn't listen when I warned him I thought ds might be allergic before he brought kitty here. We had the testing done much later. 

You can try different foods but if your cat is anything like ours, she will snub all the healthy ones lol. You can look into dry vs wet food. I did buy a toothbrush set for my kitty but never tried brushing her teeth. 

In the beginning I was scooping the litter box twice a day. I am not doing that now, but it might not be a bad idea. Watch some videos by Jackson Galaxy. He recommends once a day as sufficient... something about the cat liking some of their scent around? 

When we leave town for brief periods I use a water and food dispenser, but I think the water gets gross quickly and the food starts to get stale fast. She doesn't like it. Sometimes we have the neighbor come and check on her during those trips. I do own a carrier that has a bed insert. We got most of our stuff on Amazon. Now I sometimes buy the cat litter at Pet Smart just because it's easier to carry the boxes than the 40 lb bags. But the 40 lb bags are a better deal price wise. 

You probably want to try a medication for fleas/ticks/etc. as recommended by your vet. We are lazy about it and I only put her on a flea pill periodically because it's so flipping hard to get her to swallow the pill and I do own a pill stick thing. It's not a very good one. I bought it at the vet's office. I do not think my cat would eat the pills disguised in food. The pill we use does not fight against all the other things so probably better to do Revolution (?) or one of those where you squeeze some liquid on them. 

Our cat will occasionally vomit but the vet tech said pretty much all cats do that sometimes. I haven't done so lately but I like to have a little bag of treats around sometimes. 

I'd look for some toys and plan on spending some time playing with the kitty. My cat doesn't like many of her toys. She prefers the little rings on milk containers or my hair bands LOL 

Lots of helpful information--thank you!

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I hate my cat, and now everyone keeps telling me he'll probably live to 20. (7 more years.). So... crap!

Maybe hate is too strong. I don't like him, but I'll do anything for him, including playing the "take your pill" game every 12 hours. For the rest. Of. His. Life.  Unless he succeeds in his attempts to kill me first.

Indoor cats get out.  Mine has never gotten far, but I've had to crawl under the deck and into the brush where all sorts of crittters live to get him.  He doesn't actually want to be outside, but instinct tells him to give it a shot now and then.

It is a ridiculously long commitment.  I mean, I have a 20yo human that I'm actively trying to get out of the house!  There is no college for kitties.

(Dumb cat is curled up next to me pretending to be cute right now. It's a scam!)

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11 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Indoor cats get out.  Mine has never gotten far, but I've had to crawl under the deck and into the brush where all sorts of crittters live to get him.  He doesn't actually want to be outside, but instinct tells him to give it a shot now and then.


Not all indoor cats get out. Mine never has (she's about 15). And that's despite doors being left open here a lot. With no screen door, we often just leave the front door mostly closed so littles can get in and out if I am in the kitchen (supervising through a window). Heck, we've even gone places and come back to find the front door wide open. It can be tricky to get truly closed. Never has our cat gone wandering, or it she has she's been back inside before we've noticed!

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9 minutes ago, barnwife said:


Not all indoor cats get out. Mine never has (she's about 15). And that's despite doors being left open here a lot. With no screen door, we often just leave the front door mostly closed so littles can get in and out if I am in the kitchen (supervising through a window). Heck, we've even gone places and come back to find the front door wide open. It can be tricky to get truly closed. Never has our cat gone wandering, or it she has she's been back inside before we've noticed!

Understood. But it isn’t exactly a question a cat will answer honestly in the interview process. ?

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Random, pre-caffeinated thoughts now that I'm on a laptop --

Indoor only cats may not need the feline leukemia vaccination. It is not w/o potentially serious side effects, and the risk of an indoor only cat getting it is small. On my vet's advice I have never vaccinated cats for it.

I've never treated my indoor cats for fleas or heart worms. The dogs were/are always treated, the cats never went outside. The risk of an indoor only cat acquiring fleas if you don't have other pets going in/out, and especially heart worms (especially if you're in Maine) is small. IMO it's not worth the money, the cost of medication and the risk of side effects.

The general rule for litter boxes is one per cat plus one more. So one cat = two litter boxes. The thinking is that some cats prefer to pee in one and poop in another. And some cats will "guard" a litter box from another cat, which is another reason for always having one more box than cats.

I've always preferred Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat litter. You can get it from Amazon or most pet stores. I don't know about your area, but here it isn't available in grocery stores. What litter a cat (or a person) likes really varies. Some cats are picky about their litter and others aren't. Try to get in the habit of scooping twice a day even if you don't think it's necessary. Keep the boxes in an accessible place, not hidden away down in a dark, damp basement where kitty may not want to go. Many people like covered litter boxes for the aesthetics and for helping keep odor down, but the general belief is that cats hate them with a fiery hot passion and you may be courting litter box issues if the only boxes you offer are covered. 

Feed at least some, if not at all, canned food if your cat will eat it. IMO it really is better for them than kibble. Don't worry about going super expensive. I've yet to meet a cat who didn't do well on Friskies or Fancy Feast. Avoid seafood varieties, or at least don't make those the mainstay of the diet.

Be prepared for shedding. Cats do it a lot.

Be prepared for the occasional vomiting, both hairballs and for no apparent reason at all. You can give hairball preventative. They're gels that come in tubes like toothpaste and most cats seem to like them okay. But I've never had a cat who didn't vomit occasionally for no apparent reason. Most will give you warning of the impeding event by making the most awful horking noises. This is helpful if you have any carpet or rugs in your house, because kitty will almost always attempt to barf on those. The noises are so you can run as fast as you can to find kitty, grab him/her and move to an uncarpeted, easily cleanable area. ?

Cats love some greenery occasionally. You can buy already grown "cat grass" at pet stores but it's easy to buy the seeds and grow it in your own pot. Sometimes it will make them barf. 

Edited by Pawz4me
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We've pretty much have had cats my entire life, minus a few years here and there.

Each cat will have its own personality, just like a person. We now have two brothers - Maine Coon mixes, and they are so different! Even their eating preferences, favorite person, preferred place/method for pets is unique. One will bite when happy and relaxed, and the other will only really hiss/claw when cornered.

Each time we got a new cat, we spent about $1000 per cat on vet fees, but every case is obviously different. Our current kitties were strictly outdoor before coming to be strictly indoor at our home. They both had fleas and worms (vet showed me), which had to be taken care of plus extra house cleaning after treatment. They also needed their initial vaccinations and neutering. I don't believe in over-vaccinating animals, just like Pawz said above, but our kitties were already outdoors and I needed to protect them and our family also. One of the kitties was sick with cough and a fever, like a human cold, so he had to be treated for that, too. One more thing to consider - if you plan on boarding the kitty, she or he will need current vaccinations and health record from the vet. Our boarding place requires not only the feline leukemia but also distemper and something else I can't remember right now.

You can train your kitty to love her carrier. It takes time, but it works. Leave it out all the time, with the door open, in a non-threatening manner and quiet area. Once the kitty goes in, put a small treat in the carrier or nearby - treat immediately. Our kitties now sleep in their carriers and run there when they want treats. We keep the carriers in the basement, with the litter boxes (we have 2 litter boxes).

One of our kitties gets stressed out when boarding, so we only really take them there when we absolutely have to. Last time he came home, he had kennel cough, but thankfully he got over that in a few days.

Getting a kitty is easily a 10-15 year (or more) commitment. They may not grow to love you, or they may become your shadow. One of our cats in the past used to bite ankles and the hand that was feeding it, while the hand was putting the kitty food down. We still loved her, but it's something to be aware of - kitties have quirks just like people.

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Our last cat was an older rescue whose former owner had her declawed but not spayed. The kitty was found outside the animal shelter pregnant and beaten up. Part of her ear was missing and her nose was damaged. Nevertheless, she recovered well and chose us to be her new family and lived out the rest of her life with us. She was such a sweetie.

My advice would be to adopt an older cat who is already declawed. Many people want kittens but the older ones have usually settled down and don't need as much play time -- usually. Kittens often like to play and then they konk out. Sort of like they're on and then off.

Cats seem to love boxes -- "if I fits, I sits" -- baskets and cozy spots like windows with sunshine where they can watch the fun going on outside. If you do get a cat, you could set up some spots for kitty to hang out.

To help keep your husband's allergies at bay, you could try the Burt's Bees wipes. They're not perfect but might help.

You might also ask about returning the cat if your husband's allergies get to be too much.

My son, who is mildly allergic to cats, recently adopted an adorable Russian Blue kitten. So far, ds's allergies have been occasional and mild. Nothing bad at all. Russian Blues are better for people who have allergies. They are also smart and act a lot like dogs. We've been teaching the little guy how to fetch. He also comes to us when we call his name. They tend not to like any mess in the litter box -- as my son is finding out -- and do not like to be ignored at all. Russian Blues will literally climb up you to be held! My husband and I cat sit if our son can't be with him. They are not the kind of cat who is okay with being left alone. So if you were to look for one to adopt, you might want to find someone who will watch him while you're gone.

Good luck!

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2 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Understood. But it isn’t exactly a question a cat will answer honestly in the interview process. ?

 

Yep. We have four cats, and the one cat I'd have thought would be dying to get outside won't go outside for anything. If she thinks you're trying to take her outside, she'll run and hide.

Two of them live to laze out in the yard and eat bugs. We live on a quiet road in a rural farming community and have a big yard right near a large grassy field, so if they want to go out and eat mice, we let them. We're all much happier that way.

One cat will go out if someone brings her outside, but she doesn't really care either way. 

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1 hour ago, BeachGal said:

up. Part of her ear was missing and her nose was damaged. Nevertheless, she recovered well and chose us to be her new family and lived out the rest of her life with us. She was such a sweetie.

 

I noticed this. I think it may be significant. 

My soul cat chose me .  (Cats had been abandoned at a camping place and were adopting gullible humans.  Mine crawled into my sleeping bag and then into my heart). 

Perhaps being chosen by a cat helps. 

So maybe if adopting, go to shelter and visit with the cats a few times while deciding and if you decide in favor, let a cat choose you. 

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18 hours ago, Mergath said:

For one, you don't want to declaw your cat. It's excruciatingly painful for the cat and can cause a bunch of long-term health problems, including making it too painful for kitty to use the litter box, which can result in a kitty peeing everywhere else. Some cities have even made declawing illegal because it's terrible for the animal. If scratching isn't something you're willing to deal with, you might want to consider a different kind of pet. Scratching is behaviorally normal and necessary for cats, and not all of them will use a scratching post no matter what you do.

Yes, Mergath is right!  Please do NOT declaw.  Since you're not experienced with cats, get the facts first.  Also, there are techniques and products to keep unwanted scratching away.  Our Ragdoll is an indoor cat.  We've had a cat about 11 years and she is a joy.  We're dog lovers and will be getting another dog. (Our last lab passed away Dec 2016).  

Study kitten and cat behavior.  Learn what makes them tick.  Learn their interests, desires, needs, etc.  

Too many people just "buy" a kitty or puppy without thought of how to care for it. 

BTW, not passing judgment on you but as an experienced Mom to furry animals (dogs, cat),  I'm recommending that you study up first.  

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4 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

Random, pre-caffeinated thoughts now that I'm on a laptop --

Indoor only cats may not need the feline leukemia vaccination. It is not w/o potentially serious side effects, and the risk of an indoor only cat getting it is small. On my vet's advice I have never vaccinated cats for it.

I've never treated my indoor cats for fleas or heart worms. The dogs were/are always treated, the cats never went outside. The risk of an indoor only cat acquiring fleas if you don't have other pets going in/out, and especially heart worms (especially if you're in Maine) is small. IMO it's not worth the money, the cost of medication and the risk of side effects.

The general rule for litter boxes is one per cat plus one more. So one cat = two litter boxes. The thinking is that some cats prefer to pee in one and poop in another. And some cats will "guard" a litter box from another cat, which is another reason for always having one more box than cats.

I've always preferred Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat litter. You can get it from Amazon or most pet stores. I don't know about your area, but here it isn't available in grocery stores. What litter a cat (or a person) likes really varies. Some cats are picky about their litter and others aren't. Try to get in the habit of scooping twice a day even if you don't think it's necessary. Keep the boxes in an accessible place, not hidden away down in a dark, damp basement where kitty may not want to go. Many people like covered litter boxes for the aesthetics and for helping keep odor down, but the general belief is that cats hate them with a fiery hot passion and you may be courting litter box issues if the only boxes you offer are covered. 

Feed at least some, if not at all, canned food if your cat will eat it. IMO it really is better for them than kibble. Don't worry about going super expensive. I've yet to meet a cat who didn't do well on Friskies or Fancy Feast. Avoid seafood varieties, or at least don't make those the mainstay of the diet.

Be prepared for shedding. Cats do it a lot.

Be prepared for the occasional vomiting, both hairballs and for no apparent reason at all. You can give hairball preventative. They're gels that come in tubes like toothpaste and most cats seem to like them okay. But I've never had a cat who didn't vomit occasionally for no apparent reason. Most will give you warning of the impeding event by making the most awful horking noises. This is helpful if you have any carpet or rugs in your house, because kitty will almost always attempt to barf on those. The noises are so you can run as fast as you can to find kitty, grab him/her and move to an uncarpeted, easily cleanable area. ?

Cats love some greenery occasionally. You can buy already grown "cat grass" at pet stores but it's easy to buy the seeds and grow it in your own pot. Sometimes it will make them barf. 

Thanks for all the great info.

I had wondered if flea, etc meds would be necessary for an indoor cat. Fleas aren't a nuisance where I live, like they can be in some parts of the country.

Thanks for the warning re random vomiting. That alone might my DH rethink the idea. Lol

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