One of the greatest and most beloved pets in the entire world is of course the cat. Throughout most of history, there has always been a tight competition between cat and dog lovers over which people is the better of the two. If we go strictly by the numbers, with a staggering worldwide population of over 500 million, cats are perhaps the most common pet throughout the entire world. But dog owners are always quick to remind that the most loyal animal of all is the dog, and that the cat is at best a snooty prissy animal. Although they live their lives like kings and queens, they are highly intelligent animals that enjoys companionships, and probably the most personable pet in the entire pet industry. Not only are they simply fantastic animals, they have been human companions for thousands of years, and they will go on to be companions for thousands of more. So popular are these as pets, that there is a danger in North America of the cat population exploding out of control due to the lack of sterilizations being performed. Every year more and more cats end up on the street, essentially becoming feral cats, and freely reproducing at will. Although it is a fantastic hobby to be part of, there is also a lot of responsibility associated with the keeping and care of cats.
Purchasing Your First Cat
The first rule about purchasing your first cat is to buy a species that is interesting to you. Never be persuaded to purchase a cat that you don’t want because you are told it is an a “better or worse” breed than another. If it is a cat that you don’t really want, then it is a pet that you will grow tired of in the future. Regardless of what type it is that you want, you have to ensure you do all the research about it prior to purchasing it so that you take proper care of your new cat from day one. Most people think that all cats are the same, but nothing can be further from the truth. Although they all can be kept indoors, there are different types of cats that require more of less room, or different types of toys or structures. A little bit of research goes a long way, and it pays off in the long run.
One of the most debated issues in North America right now is whether to purchase from a private breeder, a pet store, or an animal shelter. Here is an argument that is based on a few too many bad apples spoiling it for the bunch. But over the past twenty years, there have been numerous cases of poor quality cats and kittens being sold by people thinking only of profit as their animals suffer from neglect. Thankfully, there has been numerous enthusiasts stepping forward to challenge pet stores to live up to the higher standards people expect from them.
There have also been numerous pet stores in North America that have been promoting adoptions from pet shelters rather than selling cats or kittens at all. Because of the explosion of pet cats in the past three decades, there is a steady incline in the dog and cat population that has many people worried about the growing number of homeless and neglected pets. Although it is great if you can save a cat from an animal shelter and give it a second lease at life, there is also nothing wrong with purchasing a cat from a store or private breeder. The fact is that you will probably want a specific cat that only a breeder or store can get you so a shelter is right out. You just have to remember that pet stores purchase cats from breeders and mark up the prices, so it would in fact be considerably cheaper purchasing a cat from a breeder.
As a general rule of thumb, always try to purchase the healthiest cat or kitten available. This is easily done by purchasing the largest in a group that has bright eyes and is active. Larger animals typically mean that they are being well fed and cared for. With cats, assuming they are taken care of well, will generally all be of the same size and weight when you see them in a pet store window or in a litter of kittens at a breeders residence. If a cat is skinny and not active, then it is best to leave it be. It’s far too easy to succumb to a sick kitten pulling at your heart strings, but when it comes to cat illnesses, there is a steep financial cost to making a sick kitten well again. A healthy animal can live many years, and if you put in the time that is necessary, you will be rewarded in the long run.
The great thing about cats is that there is virtually no equipment required to giving these little guys a great home. The reason behind this is that Cats are a cosmopolitan species and are found across much of the world. They are extremely adaptable and are now present on all continents except Antarctica, and on 118 of the 131 main groups of islands, which includes sub-Antarctic islands such as the Kerguelen Islands. This ability to thrive in almost any terrestrial habitat has led to the cat`s designation as one of the world`s worst invasive species. Although this is a huge negative for wild life, it also means that with little effort, you can easily bring a cat into your home without purchasing expensive equipment.
There is also a large variety of items you can purchase for your cat that are useful, but not necessarily required for their health. Collars are a great idea if you are planning to frequently walk you new pet, and the pets identification, like home address and phone number, can easily be attached to the collar should your cat run away. Of course if you are planning on walking your cat, which an increasing amount of people that do, then a leash is the best way to always maintain control over your pet’s actions. Leashes and collars can also be purchased to match your cat’s personality like tough guy spiked collar or diamond studded collar for your little princess. In the same line of thought, there are numerous lines of clothing that you can purchase for your pets. The last random thing you should also buy is a food and water dish for your little kitten or cat. They will eat out of virtually anything, but it’s a good idea to have specific bowls that are for just the cat that could even match his or her personality.
The last and only item that you have to buy for you cat is a litter box for them to go to the washroom in. Since cats bury their urine and feces, it is important to provide them with a box containing kitty litter. This is an absorbent material, often bentonite, shredded paper, or wood chips, or sometimes sand in which your local pet store will carry a large variety of litters. It should be cleaned daily and changed often, depending on the number of cats in a household and the type of litter; if it is not kept clean, a cat may be fastidious enough to find other locations in the house for urination or defecation. This may also happen for other reasons; for instance, if a cat becomes constipated and defecation is uncomfortable, it may associate the discomfort with the litter box and avoid it in favor of another location. Daily attention to the litter box also serves as a monitor of the cat`s health. Bentonite or clumping litter is a variation which absorbs urine into clumps which can be sifted out along with feces, and thus stays cleaner longer with regular sifting, but has sometimes been reported to cause health problems in some cats. Without a containers such as this, your entire house could become a kitty litter container, and with the strong odor associated with cat urine, it is best to have a frequently clean a kittle litter container.
A Specialized Diet
Although cat food always has, and always will be highly debated by the numerous competing cat food companies throughout the world, the only real issue that I have with the above descriptions is the idea of vegetarian food for cats. The simple fact about cats is that they are meat eaters, and in no way should they be fed a non-meat diet. This idea of cats being vegetarian is nothing more than human owners expressing their way of life onto their pet. Unlike other people who can choose whether or not to eat in this way, cats are entirely dependent on their human owners, so they have no choice in what they get to eat. As wild animals, there is now way that a cat would be willing to eat a patch of grass or a bush of berries instead of anther wild animal. Can you imagine a Tiger or Lion having a salad for a meal instead of an antelope?
The other highly debated item in regards to cat food is the inclusion of animal byproducts into the food. A majority of lesser quality foods support the fact that animal-by-products should be in all cat foods. What is an animal-by-product? Think of a cat food that has chicken-by-product in the ingredient list, and then imagine that the whole chicken has gone into making that cat food compared to a food using chicken meal, which is only the actual meat of the chicken. The argument behind by-products is that in the wild, catss will eat the whole animal. This of course if absolutely true, but it not necessarily good for them to eat a whole chicken. These lesser quality pet foods are misleading because if makes it seem like you are feeding your cat chicken when you are actually feeding you cats chicken and random parts of that chicken.
One of the best advancements in the pet food industry is the specially formulated foods for cats allergic to common ingredients such as chicken, wheat, or corn. These foods usually contain "novel proteins" and substitute uncommon starches for the usual grains. Meats used in allergy formulas can range from the mundane, such as lamb, beef, or whitefish, to the unusual, such as venison or duck. Carbohydrates in allergy formulas are usually a less common grain, such as rice or barley, but such ingredients as potato and quinoa are sometimes used. Allergies are more likely to develop with consistent exposure to certain proteins. The problems that arise from these types of foods, especially lamb based, is that they have grown so popular that people don’t realize that they are for allergy prone animals. Not that there is anything wrong with feeding cats without allergies these foods, but the general idea is to feed your cat the basic chicken formula and then switch them to an allergy formula should allergies arise from the chicken. This way you can try to point out the ingredient that they are most likely allergic too.
Perhaps it is a return to the times when cats were thought to be sacred animals, but the proud, snooty nature of cats is something that has never changes. Plus if cat owners have their way, it is something that will never change. There really isn’t anything as amazing at the domesticated cat because it is like having your own pet tiger or lion in your very own house. Next time you go to a zoo, watch the big cats for awhile and you will notice that your little cat at home acts in the exact same manner. Sure their teeth are a lot shorter than their cousins, but to a mouse or bird, those teeth are the same size as a tiger’s teeth to a human. This is the best part about cats because they act like they have never been domesticated as they stock their bowl of dry kibble, pounce across clean laundry at a piece of string, and sharpen their mighty claws on your new leather couch. Ouch! Okay, so not everything about cats are good for the home, but with a lot of toys and scratching posts, you can save your furniture from their vicious attacks. The one thing you always have to remember is to keep your can indoors, or to make sure it is sterilized to prevent it from coming home pregnant or making the neighbor’s cat pregnant. You just always have to remember that with passion and respect, a cat can be the greatest passion of your entire life.