Cats bring so much to our lives. They show us unconditional love. They entertain us with their silly feline antics in the middle of the night. They can even calm our anxieties just by sitting in our laps and offering comforting purrs. Because kitties bring so much to our lives, we want to make sure we are being responsible pet owners. But what does being a responsible cat parent mean?
Commitment: Adopting a cat is a big commitment. Kitties are living longer these days. It's not unusual for a cat to live 15 or 20 years; I've known some cats who have even lived into their twenties! As amazing as this is, being a responsible cat owner means that you need to prepare for a lifetime commitment to your kitty. This means ensuring that you can care for your companion for the duration of her lifetime. Providing adequate and nutritious food, water, shelter, and veterinary care for your feline are all part of being a responsible pet parent. Your cat needs to see her veterinarian at least once a year for wellness exams until she becomes a senior, at which point she will need to see the veterinarian twice a year for check-ups. Providing adequate mental stimulation is also important for your cat's well-being.
I also highly recommend buying pet insurance and/or creating an emergency fund for your furry friend. Most pet insurance companies will require you to pay vet bills upfront and request reimbursement. Setting money aside each month will help ensure that you can cover any vet bills that arise due to unexpected injuries or illnesses your cat experiences.
As cats age, they can develop chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism. Plan for these extra expenses in advance to ensure you can give your senior companion a good quality of life.
Safety: It's also essential to keep your companion safe. Ensure that your home is cat-proof; keep small items out of your cat's reach, supervise your kitty when you use the stove, check your washer and dryer before using them, and be cautious when entering or exiting your home. Microchipping your companion and putting identification tags on him increases the chances your cat will find his way home if he accidentally escapes from your home.
In addition, it's important to know what foods and plants are toxic to your companion. Please keep any toxic plants out of your feline's reach. Keep all household cleaning products out of your cat's reach as well.
Choose a Cat that Matches Your Lifestyle: If you don't already have a cat and are considering adopting one, it's important to choose a cat that will fit into your lifestyle and family. Don't be impulsive and adopt the first adorable cat you see in the shelter - unless you determine that that cat is right for you. Do a little homework first. Ask the shelter staff about the kitty's personality, likes, and dislikes. If you have a dog at home and the cat you're interested in is terrified of dogs, it wouldn't be a good idea to bring that particular kitty home with you. Likewise, if the kitty you're interested in needs a lot of human companionship and you work 10-hour days, you'll want to keep looking. Making sure you and your new kitty are happy is another aspect of being a responsible cat parent.
Exercise: Just like us, cats need exercise. Set aside some time each day to have an interactive play session with your companion. Not only will the interactive play sessions give your cat physical exercise, it will mentally stimulate him and strengthen the bond you share with him.
Prepare for Disasters: Having a plan in place for natural disasters will save you a lot of time and panic if one ever occurs. Put together or purchase a pet first-aid kit, have enough food, water, and medication for your pet to last 3-5 days, and know where you can stay with or board your cat if you need to evacuate your home.
It's also important to consider what will happen to your pet if you pass away before she does. Ask a trusted family member or friend if he will care for your cat in the event of your demise, if possible. If you don't have any family members or friends willing to take on this responsibility, look into shelters that offer care for cats after their humans have passed away. Make sure you meet all the program requirements, such as leaving money to the shelter in your will for the care of your cat. You'll also need to clearly state in your will who should receive your cat when you die. Thinking about this topic is definitely not easy, but it's important for ensuring your kitty's safety.
Making End-of-Life Decisions: Perhaps the most difficult thing about being a loving cat owner is needing to make end-of-life decisions for your cat. You can utilize the HHHHHMM scale to help you objectively determine your kitty's quality of life. Your companion will also tell you when he is ready to make his way to the Rainbow Bridge. Keeping an open heart and mind is difficult during end-of-life care, but doing so will allow your companion to communicate his needs with you.
Love: Finally, part of being a responsible pet owner is loving your companion. This may seem obvious, but not everyone who adopts a cat does so out of love. Just like people, pets need to feel loved and cared about. Spend time with your kitty daily petting him, engaging in interactive play sessions, and talking to him so he can feel how much you love him.
What do you think being a responsible pet owner means?