questionsok cat people, is it time for me to adopt a kitty?

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If you have limited time, considering adopting a cat that is a year or so older. There are many of these kinds of kitties chillin' in the shelters, and though everyone wants a kitten, not everyone wants a kitten when they truly realize how high energy they are, if you know what I mean. When I adopted the intern, she was still quite the baby (4mos) and honestly, kittens are adorable as all get out, but very, very time consuming. I say that from a life time of being around cats and having raised three of my own.

If your new place, finances, etc. allow, also consider adopting a pair. The initial upkeep may be a bit more (vet stuff) but over all the food costs/litter/etc aren't radically different. It will also help your fuzzy buddy from being lonely. :)

Other than that, the 'time' thing is really up to the cat's personality, which is nothing you'll be able to predict all that well. (MYSTERY BOX OF CATS)

Oh and post pics when you do, obviously. We love pics. :)

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i agree with inky about considering an older-than-kitten kitty, especially if this is your first cat (dunno if it is or not). adult personalities can turn out to be different than when they were kittens. if you're looking for a particular personality (for example, a sit-in-your-lap cat), you can prolly tell by the time they're 1 yo or so, but mabe not so well when they're only 2-3 mo.

no1 no1
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@inkycatz: Thanks for all the info., I think an older cat is definitely the way to go.

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I agree with getting a pair of cats that get along with one another, especially with your work schedule. I wish I could of when I got my kitty, but we already had a cat at my house. However she is not very social with most people and hates other animals so my little kitten had no other cat to play with. He has a lot of energy sometimes and I think getting a buddy for him would of really helped.

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I'm not a cat person, but I agree with everyone here. If this is your first time with a cat (or pet), adopt a young adult from a shelter. Adult pets at shelters have a harder time getting adopted than their younger versions, so you're definitely going to be helping the shelter out and potentially "rescuing" the animal. Not only will you be helping out a shelter, but shelter pets are all up-to-date on vaccines and are already fixed, so its one less thing you'll have to worry about. Just my two cents.

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Sit with the prospective cat for a while. Make sure it's social. It's easy to say it's just scared but it should warm up to you after a bit.

I say this because I'm just about certain that one of son's cats was a feral kitten. Feral cats get no socialization with humans and may never warm up. This cat didn't like much petting, rarely purred, and liked to hang out in small dark places like the litter box and under the backyard shed.

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Firstly, to answer your question: Yes

Nextly, I work a lot too so when I adopted my meows, I got two. Makes me feel better when I go on vacation, etc too. However, I've learned that that is probably humanizing too much. Cats do pretty grand being solo, in fact some would say cats are happier when they're on their own. Just don't get a real, real tiny kitten. Something over 6 months will probably be fine on their own, but older kitties face real tough adoption odds so going a year(or 2)+ could really be saving a life :)

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I've got two cats, brothers from the same litter adopted when they were about seven months old. They're great cats, a little skitterish of anything outside of the norm...one gets very nervous when I leave my shoes somewhere he doesn't think they belong, but that makes them easier to discipline/train to not do things.

Since you work a lot, I definitely recommend getting two cats, ideally from the same litter. They can keep each other company and entertained and they're less likely to get into things you don't want them to. I'm generally gone from 5:30 am - 6pm four or five days a week and out some evenings as well and my cats are mostly okay with it. I do have to spend some extra time with one of them (the shoe skitterish one) from time to time to make up for it, but he's pretty forgiving. I'm also able to leave my cats alone for long weekends without any problems. I just put out extra food and water and they're cool for up to about four days.

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@conanthelibrarian: Nope. Not all cats are like that.
- gross hairballs can be fixed with a good diet, usually
- worms/fleas can vary by region (easily remedied with meds)
- unwanted elimination is usually a medically based issue, or a behavior one that can be fixed with a bit of patience

Now the downsides!
- claws, keep those things trimmed, and get the kitty in the habit early as you possibly can
- old cats (10+) bring on a whole host of issues - the common ones being teeth, diet changes, and possibly kidney failure, this page lays a lot of it out
- cats have personalities, which means some times you want a cat hug, and cat is like "no, bite me". It's a minor thing. ;)

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You might also consider going through a foster group. They tend to have a lot more information about the personality of the cats than, say, the local animal shelter, because they live with them. Foster cats will also sometimes be better socialized.

I got my lil' Ted through a foster group. I read his bio online and chose him because of the description - 'quiet, deferential to other cats in the house'. He's turned out to be quite the chatterbox, but he and my 12 year old cat get along just great. My biggest concern was if Henry would get along with a new buddy. Was definitely the right choice for me to go through a foster group.

Edit to add: Teddy was at least 8 months when I got him. Neither Henry or me wanted a lil bitty kitty running around being crazy. Ted is really playful and yes runs around, but he's not chaotic like kittens can be.

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@wilfbrim: The overnight and weekend stuff wouldn't be an issue as I usually have people house sitting for me anyway, I was thinking about the more daily stuff. I go to work around 7:30 AM and get home around 8:30 PM. Thanks for bringing this up though, I need to think about everything involved in this decision.

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Be sure you are ready, and be aware that even a cat may cramp your style. You can't just jet off for a long weekend without thinking about who is going to take care of the kitty. Do you have friends you can rely on and/or enough money to pay a pet sitter?

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I have two cats, we have had them for years. There's a braided jute rug in front of the back door and the cats absolutely love the rug as a "Scratching pad" one has not clawed a single other item in the house since we got the rug 3 years ago. Toys, simple is fine. She loves the little piece of plastic the you pull off to open a gallon milk. If I leave it out, the reminder comes about 3 in the morning, she bats it down the hall. Mine also loves to play with a the laser pointer, just the sound of me moving the pointer and she becomes very alert, start to move in across the ground and the hunt is on. One of mine also an addiction to thin plastic, like bags, dry cleaning clovers, and fake plants. She also goes after live plants, so if I buy roses for my wife there is only one place in the house that we can set them that the cat can't or won't jump too, which is something else they jump, I have come home to my cats lounging atop my 6' tall bookshelves with no idea how they got up there.

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Great advice here, I will second the thought about a buddy but my first cat was solo for years and he was perfectly content with that. I definitely agree with the idea of going for one that is a year or older. Kittens have a ton of energy and can demand a lot of attention - especially at 3 AM. My cats don't mind a weekend alone with an occasional visit from the neighbor. They love the fact that they get treated to dry food for a day or so from the magical automatic feeder.

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@no1: Testing for science!

Does it help?

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Other downsides:

Claws. Neither of my cats are declawed, but that decision is another one you'll make for yourself. It is possible to train cats not to scratch where you don't want them to. The simplest method I've found is to have a scratching post nearby wherever they otherwise scratch. When the cat scratches something you don't want it to, pick it up and move it to the post. Of course, this requires you to catch them in the act, but eventually they'll understand.

Personality. As mentioned above, cat personalities can change with age. And sometimes in a shelter the cat will act differently than it will once it gets used to its new home. My younger cat seemed pretty independent at the shelter, but turned clingy at home. My older cat was pretty vocal and affectionate when we first got her, but as she matured that changed. It can go either way.

In closing: Please adopt a cat that needs it (from a shelter or foster care), do vaccinations, and spay/neuter. And good luck!

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@conanthelibrarian: Always glad to help, plus you know if there's a cat thread, I'm probably going to be all up in it anyways with my words.

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@conanthelibrarian: Definitely not things all cats do. The occasional hariball will happen though. Urinating on furniture typically involves a disgruntled male cat.

The downsides for me - they shed and I'm in a 700sq ft apartment so it can be a an effort to keep it under control. Also, I buy them premium food which is pricier than I anticipated when I adopted. I have a long haired cat and he gets litter stuck on him and tracks it a lot (I've been experimenting with other kinds of litter besides clay).

It is nothing that makes them not worth it though!

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Okay, I didn't read anyone else's responses.
We had 3 cats for a very long time. Then we had 4.
4 is way too many cats to handle. 3 is a lot of work, but fun anyway.
Our 11 year-old white cat was the last survivor of our original pride. He had never been an "only-cat" and it was beginning to show. We decided to adopt him a "friend" from the local shelter. He still doesn't like her much, but he seems to like having the company anyway.

I have found that 2 cats are easier to take care of than 1, because they entertain themselves and don't get bored and destructive.

You should definitely get a new kitty. Kittens are definitely fun. If you've never had one, you should get one just for fun.

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I'll have to back up the not getting a teeny kitten if you don't have a lot of time. They are sooooooo fun, but they also need a lot more "training." Potty training, don't-scratch-furniture training, get-off-of-that training, etc.
Also, two cats are always better than one. If you decide to adopt (I recommend! Save a kitty!) make sure they get along or are at least somewhat young. Every time I have introduced a new kitty to an over year old one the older one is a big meanie to the little one. Currently I have a 5 year old, 3 year old, and 2 year old and the 2 year old would be friends with the other but neither of the others like each other/any other cats. (They all pretty much hate the yorkie so they kind of bond over that)

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When (If) you choose two, get them already together or plan on several days letting them meet slowly and supervised. Locking them in ajoining rooms so they can sniff and play under the door works good. You playing with one and then the other while still smelling of the first helps. They will want to establish a boss so some "fighting" is OK but you do not want all out battles.

If you are looking at a breed, read about the traditional traits. They may not apply to a specific cat but you may get some insight.

We adopted our two from a fostering program. We were able to visit at the home and meet them before adopting and talk to the foster family about them. We chose a bengal mix and her daughter. That means we chose rowdy, loud, demanding little beasts but we love them anyway. They do not like to be left alone. They are fine alone but they prefer to have the human playtoys present for treat demands.

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As to gross behaviors:

In the years I've had my two cats, there has been only one hairball. Certain food and treats (we do the treats) can help prevent or eliminate hairballs.

Your cat shouldn't have worms unless it's eaten a carcass that does. The easy way to avoid this, and something I would recommend, is to have your cat stay indoors. The decision on that is yours, and hopefully you make it an informed decision after reading up on the statistical differences in lifespan, injuries, etc. in indoor vs. outdoor cats.

Urinating on furniture is also rare and would be due either to a urinary infection or as mentioned above, a disgruntled cat. If this happens, a trip to the vet or an examination of any recent household changes is in order.

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@conanthelibrarian: Here is why cats are better:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/why-cats-are-better-than-dogs-gotta-see-video-120920.html

But don't let my dog see it, it'll just make him sad. Actually, he thinks he's a cat, so would probably be ok.

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Claws? This is my pal, rescued cat Grundle with her favorite toy.

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Yes, get a cat. Or two. The biggest problems for cats seem to be triggered by changes in routine. So if they're used to you not being at home all the time from the beginning, it shouldn't trigger some of the behavior problems you've been hearing about.

We have adopted from the local SPCA but when one of our original cats died, we needed a cat that would be big enough to deal with our young Maine Coon, who likes to wrestle. So I emailed a local rescue group that had a bunch of Maine Coon kittens, explained the situation and they suggested a non Maine Coon but still pretty big guy who fit right in. Most rescues + shelters have bonded pairs they'd like to see go to a good home together.

They're wonderful pretty self sufficient creatures to have bopping around the house. I recommend it.

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@inkycatz: and everyone who has helped so much with this decision. Can you tell me the downsides of owning a cat? I'm always hearing about gross hairballs, worms or urinating on furniture. Are these things all cats do?

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@inkycatz: I feel refreshed already.

And I second her thoughts about getting an older cat. Kittens literally climb walls.

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I have two cats. The first is about four, she was a stray when she adopted us at around one year old. The second is about two and a half, he was a shelter cat who we adopted at 10 weeks old.

When we had just the first cat, she did great on her own in our small apartment. When we moved to a house, we added the kitten. The kitten was definitely a lot more work but also (of course) adorable.

For your situation, not being home a lot, I would agree with most others here: avoid kittens and go for a one+ year-old. If you do go the kitten route, I think the suggestion of getting two from the same litter is a great one. But definitely be prepared for the extra work and time.

A cat should be just fine on its own for a weekend. My threshold for getting a pet sitter is about four days. Shorter than that, just give extra food and water and ensure a clean litter box.

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I will also agree that if possible adopt two from an agency, and get them when they are past the kitten stage.

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Have been slow to answer this question. I love cats. <---understatement. Eight beauties owned me; all at the same time. So many have given you excellent advice. Agree that 2 are better than 1. But, that's so slanted. I think 8 was a good number. ;-) Always, w/o fail, keep the litter boxes very clean.

Yes, cats have different personalities. All 8 of mine did. One consistency; they are independent. Some more than others. Always have them fixed. Inside only? Two of my eight were. You worry less. No fights, they won't get hit by a car. (Happened to 1 of mine... She was eventually okay.)

I hope you find the cat(s) that will add delight to your life. Nothing compares to a purring cat. Or a silent one. They're just cats! Precious beyond words.

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@xdavex: SO PRETTY. I have a tortie girl, too she's got such a little "tortitude". Loud mouth, too!

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Ohhh kitties!

A cat is a better choice than a dog if you are away from home a lot as they don't need to be let out or walked. I have 4 cats right now, each with their own personality, and 3 out of the four were 'feral' kittens when I took them in. Their personalities changed a lot from kittenhood to adulthood. Definitely research a breed if you are looking for a specific breed first. I took home a Siamese mix (one of my ferals), and I knew what I was getting into taking her home, but she's still more than I can handle sometimes. I love her to pieces though and don't know what I'd do without her.

I have two cats that literally pull out there hair, and one is more prone to hairballs because of it, I feed them hairball formula cat food, and that has helped, but we still have the occasional one. Peeing all over...well, thankfully none of mine do that, and I have 3 boys and one girl. There was a boy that started, but it turns out he had crystals in his urine, so he couldn't pee.

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He's on a special diet now that prevents them, and no potty issues since. Scratching can be an issue, but most of the time, they scratch cardboard scratching posts, or one specific spot on my rug. I also spent a lot of time with them as kittens playing with their paws, so I can clip most of their claws without any issue.

I agree, taking on a pair would be best, mine tend to 'pile up' on the bed when I'm not around, so I know they at least have each other when I'm not home.

Good luck with any kitty you take home. And, definitely post pictures! I love kitties! (clearly, lol)

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What @sunny0xr said about worms is not entirely true. Worms, particularly tapeworms, can come from fleas. Baby worm lives in flea, cat eats flea, flea dies, worm lives. So yeah, the cat DID eat a carcass, so to speak :)

Anyway, the good news for that particular kind of problem: one pill, all done. Plus my vet was cute.

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@xdavex: So pretty! What a great picture.

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The claws on my younger cat, when he was a kitten:

He still loves his claws and uses them WAY too much.