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What do I need to know before getting a cat?

 
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 5:16 am
first timer here, totally clueless
I think it would be good for my children.

What are the hardest parts of it?
Is it a burdensome responsibility?
Will I be stuck at home?
Will it destroy my furniture?
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ima_bima




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 5:50 am
I had 2 cats in the past. It's heartbreaking when they die, I couldn't go through it again. Although I miss curling up on the sofa with a big fat cat asleep on my lap.

Also, it can really tie you down if you want to go away for the weekend or be spontaneous. I'd only get one if I'd a potential 'babysitter' on hand.
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amother




Sapphire
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 5:51 am
Cats can be relatively low maintenance.
But a few things to think through:
Do your kids themselves want a cat or did you come up with the idea?
How old are they? Cats may not be the right pet for very small children, as they may scratch or bite is someone pulls their tail or ears, for example. If your kids are old enough to behave responsibly and understand that a live animal isn't a toy, it should be alright.
Regarding furniture - will the cat get access to outdoors, so it can release energy, or will it be inside only?
If it's only inside, it will need a scratch-tree or board or something like that, and cat toys to entertain it. Though that doesn't stop unwanted scratching entirely.
Also depends how sensitive your furniture is. Ikea style items are much more cat resistant than highly polished dark wood and silk cushions for an example.
Our cat scratches our sofa, but the cloth is thick enough to not get damaged.
Cats do knock things down that are positioned up on shelves, like ornaments, and chew up potted plants. It's just something they do.
They also jump on counters and tables. To a degree, one can deter them with smells, like mint or citrus oil.

The cat will need regular feeding, watering and litter box cleaning. Will your kids be doing that, and will you pick up the slack if they don't?
Where will the cat be if you go away on vacation, if you do?
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amother




Bergamot
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 6:07 am
Make sure none of your kids have a cat allergy before you get one and that they are not allergic to pet dander .
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Elfrida




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 6:12 am
If you go away for two or three days, you can leave extra food and water for your cat, and they will be fine. Longer than that, you need to have someone come in to feed them (and clean the litter box).
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imasinger




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 6:36 am
It might be a good idea to find someone you know with a cat, and ask if you and the kids can help care for it if/when they go away. Or if you can foster a cat from a shelter.

In general --

The hardest parts may depend on the personality of the cat. Consider a breed that's calmer, or an adult as opposed to a kitten, if this is a concern.

Cleaning the litter box is often annoying, but must be done regularly. You also need to think about buying pet food and litter, and regular (usually yearly) vet visits as a part of your finances. And about providing fresh, clean water all the time. (Warning -- toilets can be a tempting source sometimes).

Don't protect your furniture by getting the cat declawed, it's cruel to the animal. Buy slipcovers and/or read cat training books (a spray bottle with water, and a bicycle horn are both useful for deterrent). Get some good scratching posts and boards, too.

You can also think about limiting access to certain spaces. Cats are territorial. Males have a tendency to mark their space by urination.

Think through any halachic concerns. Pets are muksa on Shabbos, you can pet them, but not pick them up or trap them. If you are thinking about a male kitten, you need to learn about the halachic way to be sure your pet is neutered.

Think through allergies. Do you have any regular visitors that have a cat dander allergy? Any chance you and your kids have one? (Warning -- they can develop over time, too.)

Cats are great mousers, which can be really useful. They do sometimes bring you their kills as a present, though.

In short -- the best part can be having a warm, furry personality in your home. The worst part can be having to think about and care for a warm, furry personality in your home. While they require less energy than dogs, IMO, there's still ongoing work that's a part of the pet ownership package.
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amother




Green
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 6:45 am
https://www.imamother.com/foru.....20730

Please refer to this 👆🏻thread I started, which lists many points to consider before adopting a pet.

If you do decide to adopt, please go through a rescue agency (NOT a breeder) and please get a pet that is already neutered / spayed (much better halachically and in terms of helping prevent yet more litters of kittens that overfull rescues will struggle to accommodate—oh and it tends to calm them down as well, and neutered males don’t typically spray - urinate - to “mark their territory,” while intact males do quite often).

Do not EVER declaw a cat as it is cruel and inhumane - it’s the same procedure as would be done to cut off the last joint of each of your fingers. Yes, it is that painful and can have lasting repercussions, such as difficulty walking into the litter box (thus a risk of urine/feces on the floor and furniture because as the kitties age, it can become more painful for them to walk on surfaces such as clay that litter is often made from). You can have unscratched furniture or have a cat, but you may not be able to have both at the same time (I got secondhand couches for this reason, plus it was way cheaper than new couches).

I strongly urge all cat owners to keep the cats indoor only—it is much much safer for them that way. If your cat must go outdoors, please purchase a Catio so your cat is contained and won’t run into the street or be attacked by other animals c”v.

Younger cats and kittens are very very very high energy (think “fuzzy toddlers” but often less persuadable, plus they have claws) and think everything (paper, pens, anything on the tables or counters, medications, cups, bottles, socks etc) is fair game as a toy. Older cats are typically calmer and more settled, and the rescue agency will likely have a clearer and more definite understanding of their personality, whether they are a lap cat, how well they do with small children, foods that work best for them, etc.).

I strongly recommend getting pet insurance— it has made a huge difference when my cats needed unexpected emergency vet care, and I was able to get reimbursed hundreds of dollars. Keep in mind the cost of food, litter, regular vet checkups, dental cleanings, etc. Think about whether you will be able to trim your cat’s nails by yourself (1-2 times per month on average) or whether you will need to hire someone to do it or have it done at the vet (some cats are easygoing about it, some yowl but tolerate it, and some can only have their nails trimmed under sedation). Make sure to have a scratching post (cats consider this an option in addition to the furniture) and toys that are cat-safe (not those plastic feather toys which IMO should be banned—if swallowed they can cause serious digestive issues), and child-safe if you have small children at home.

Make sure you get references of a good veterinarian who will be able to help guide you. Familiarize yourself with foods and household items that are toxic to cats. I definitely recommend keeping the lid of your toilets closed as some cats do jump inside, and trying to bathe a cat covered in gross toilet water is not the easiest procedure.

Cat food cannot have basar b’chalav (“animal product” or “animal fat” MUST be assumed to be meat, not chicken, and is a problem if there is milk, cheese, whey, casein or caseinate derivatives, etc) in the food.

Cat food cannot contain chometz on Pesach (kitniyos is muttar). Allow two weeks to gradually switch your cat over from regular food to Pesach food, increasing the ratio of Pesach food to regular food a little bit at a time until a couple days before Pesach they are fully switched over. Some cats will not be happy about changing foods. Star-K has a list of pet food recommendations, and they have been very helpful when I reached out to them directly to ask about specific food brands not on their lists.

Oh, and don’t give your cats milk, I have no idea how that ridiculous myth started (“give the cat a bowl of milk!” NO. Give them CAT FOOD and fresh water, 2x a day) but lactose is hard on their stomachs. The exception is kittens, who have very specific formulas called KMR (kitten milk replacer), that can be used if they are not able to nurse from their mother or another lactating cat.

If you go away, you will need to have someone come check on your cat every day and give them fresh food and water, and clean the litter box.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you rent your home, you need to get written permission from the landlord allowing you to have a pet.

With all that in mind, kitties are wonderful, wonderful pets, and I wish every kitty that needs a home would get adopted quickly and easily. 😻 They are loyal and loving, if somewhat particular about who qualifies as their favorite human(s). Cats are self-sufficient in many ways and “maintenance” is easier than with dogs (litterbox needs to be scooped every day - and if you are expecting or otherwise immunocompromised someone else will have to do it reliably and consistently, as pregnant women are at risk of toxoplasmosis from cat feces - but cats don’t need to be walked twice a day for bathrooms trips. This is not meant as a criticism of dogs, I love dogs, it’s just a difference between taking care of their bathroom needs that is important to keep in mind). My favorite sound in the world is a purring kitty (bonus points if they are snuggly). They are adorable and entertaining and sweet and loving and teach kids through experience about caring for another living creature. I love love LOVE kitties. Highly recommend adopting if you are up for it! 😻
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amother




Darkblue
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 8:58 am
I bought my house from a couple who owned two large cats. The smell was overwhelming. My contractor told me that the odor would disappear when we sanded our walls (before painting) and scraped our parquet floors. We also got rid of all the old carpet.

He was right, but a large urine stain remained on the wood floor where the cats used to hang out. In an attempt to cover the stain, I had to stain the wood a darker color than I had originally planned. This was almost 20 years ago and the discoloration is still there.

Just wanted to let you know. Anonymous since I've discussed this IRL.
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amother




Bergamot
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 9:07 am
Green- I had no idea that declawing a cat was painful. I assumed it was done under some sort of anesthesia.
My father who loved his cats had to declaw his cat after it attacked my little toddler brother and almost had him lose an eye. My father witnessed that and he could not handle it. The next day he went and got it declawed.
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the world's best mom




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 9:20 am
We fostered a kitten for 2 weeks. My main concerns were:

1: The kitty litter stinks, even when it hasn't been used.

2: Pregnant women cannot come in contact with the litter box. It's dangerous.

3: There will probably be people who are afraid to come to your house because of the cat.

4: Our kitten used to jump up on the table every morning and try to eat our breakfast out of our bowls. I did not appreciate that.
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watergirl




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 9:23 am
amother Bergamot wrote:
Green- I had no idea that declawing a cat was painful. I assumed it was done under some sort of anesthesia.
My father who loved his cats had to declaw his cat after it attacked my little toddler brother and almost had him lose an eye. My father witnessed that and he could not handle it. The next day he went and got it declawed.

I had cats before the information about declawing was so widely known. The practice in general is banned today in many states. It's not just the procedure which you are correct, it's done under anesthesia - it's life after which is very painful. Declawing a cat is literally cutting off the claws and the top knuckle. They live the rest of their life in pain.

Rather than declaw, people are advised to get claw caps to prevent what happened to your brother.
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Lady A




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 9:31 am
We have 3 cats currently, all rescues.
Be prepared to have 2 litter boxes for one cat and add an additional one per cat.
The boxes need to be cleaned every day.
Cats WILL scratch furniture, even with scratching posts in many rooms. When I see them doing this, I spray them with a small water bottle to make them stop.
Cats do shed, so brushing is extremely important. Most cat rescues will give you tips on how to do this.
They make great pets and are super affectionate.
That said, it’s devastating when they die.
Dh and I have decided that the cats we have now will be our last ones. They have been so good to us. Caught mice and even a couple bats! Always there at the end of a horrible day.
Vet care can be pricey so I found a low cost clinic.
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amother




Starflower
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 9:38 am
Cats carry bartonella and can make you sick
My friend had kittens growing up, I loved them, now I would never let my kids near cats

Look at the cats highlight of the.holistic.mother

https://www.instagram.com/s/aG.....lZA==
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amother




Green
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 9:45 am
amother Bergamot wrote:
Green- I had no idea that declawing a cat was painful. I assumed it was done under some sort of anesthesia.
My father who loved his cats had to declaw his cat after it attacked my little toddler brother and almost had him lose an eye. My father witnessed that and he could not handle it. The next day he went and got it declawed.


Yes - the procedure itself is done under anesthesia, but imagine walking on your feet with no toes for the rest of your life c”v. Cats walk on all fours. Plus in the event that a declawed kitty gets outside, they have no way to defend themselves against predators, aside from running away, which again can be painful because putting pressure on paws that have had the last joint cut off would hurt. Sad

I imagine that was absolutely terrifying, what almost happened to your little brother. I’m glad he was OK. Claw caps can be helpful, as watergirl said, and sometimes a particular cat may need to be kept away from a young child until the child is older and better able to protect themselves.
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Bnei Berak 10




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, Sep 18 2023, 10:04 am
amother Bergamot wrote:
Green- I had no idea that declawing a cat was painful. I assumed it was done under some sort of anesthesia.
My father who loved his cats had to declaw his cat after it attacked my little toddler brother and almost had him lose an eye. My father witnessed that and he could not handle it. The next day he went and got it declawed.

It's ILLEGAL in all of Europe and many other countries, also in Israel, to declaw cats. Declawing is *extremely cruel* as it chops off the joints of the cat's bones. There are many problems with cats that have has their claws removed.
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amother




OP
 

Post Thu, Sep 21 2023, 1:51 pm
Thank you all for answering my questions and sharing your experiences!
After reading the replies I feel overwhelmed about moving forward. I know my kids would love it but there are so many things to consider that it's making me question the whole thing. Am I understanding correctly?
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amother




Sapphire
 

Post Thu, Sep 21 2023, 1:55 pm
amother OP wrote:
Thank you all for answering my questions and sharing your experiences!
After reading the replies I feel overwhelmed about moving forward. I know my kids would love it but there are so many things to consider that is making me question the whole thing. Am I understanding correctly?


Look, it's not rocket science. What people basically are saying is that a pet animal needs to be looked after and treated properly at all times and that it might or might not take a slight toll on your furniture.
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amother




Green
 

Post Thu, Sep 21 2023, 3:09 pm
amother OP wrote:
Thank you all for answering my questions and sharing your experiences!
After reading the replies I feel overwhelmed about moving forward. I know my kids would love it but there are so many things to consider that it's making me question the whole thing. Am I understanding correctly?


Maybe reach out to a local rescue and ask if they have any cats you can foster, to see how it goes and if having a cat is a commitment you can make long-term. Or ask a rescue if your kids can volunteer to help take care of some cats once a week or so—feeding, scooping, and playing with the kitties, to see how long the novelty lasts with the feeding and scooping. My local Petsmart and Petco contract with 2 rescues and they house cats and kittens available for adoption. I volunteered for with one of the rescues for several years cleaning the cages, feeding the kitties, etc.
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