Not surprisingly, house cats are actually the most common cat “breed” of all. Only about 10% of cats are of official breeds – the so called pedigreed or purebred cats. The house cats or “moggies” as they are affectionately called, are the ones you are most likely to meet. Their ancestry is mixed, but this does not make them in any way inferior to purebreds.
My very first cat was a grey tuxedo mixed-breed cat called Misu. I had been asking for a dog from my parents, but instead we got a cat. On hindsight that was a better idea – a cat is much easier to take care of than a dog, especially when it comes to taking the dog out at least three times a day…
Misu was my best friend – she came to meet me at the door when I came home from school. I bent down to pet her and she bit my nose ever so gently – this was her greeting. She slept in my bed at my feet, under the blanket, and followed me everywhere. Together we explored the nearby forest (she was in harness), and at our summer cottage she eagerly waited next to me when I stood on the pier fishing. She loved fish…
She also had a very good memory. Once my uncle pulled her by the tail and she never forgave him. Uncle even came to bring her fish, but she turned her back to him and the fish, even though she loved no food more than fish. The message was loud and clear. Animals have memory and feelings.
If you are looking for a new cat among ordinary house cats (if there ever was such a thing), you’ll probably notice there are kittens everywhere. This is because most cats are kept indoors – but not all. Also not all indoor cats are neutered or spayed. And so they breed and the cat owner eagerly tries to find homes for the kittens.
When you are looking for a kitten, do not take one that is under 12 weeks of age. Kittens younger than this are not yet ready to leave their mothers, they need to socialize a bit more with other cats. If you take the kitten too young, it may end up shy, timid, even aggressive. Also its health may not be very good.
Hold the cat for a while to see how it reacts to human touch. When you look at it, it should have a healthy coat, its eyes should be clear, it’s nose should not be runny – and check the other end too. The bottom should be clean – any signs of diarrhea are not good.
And in every case have a vet check your new kitten before bringing it home, especially if you already have other cats. You would not want your new kitten bring any diseases to your other house cats, would you? (When we got a mixed breed kitten, we took him to the vets first and she immediately paid attention to the kitten’s round tummy and said he probably had worms. She vaccinated and de-wormed the kitten and warned us not to let our other cat to the same litter box until the medicine took effect. The reason was clear – when the tiny kitten went to the litter box a few hours later, the result was a huge worm longer than the kitten itself, still wiggling. I never forget that yucky sight… It’s amazing the little one had survived with this huge parasite eating its strength.)
Check how the cat reacts to noise – especially if your family has children. It the cat is very timid, then maybe it is not the best for a noisy household. If, on the other hand, yours is an adult household, then this cat might be good for you.
You might consider taking a cat from a shelter. If you do, search for a shelter that specializes in pet adoption. They give the cat a health check and also evaluate the cat’s character before putting it up for adoption. You can talk to the people who have been taking care of the cat you are considering on taking, and hear about its behavior and character. There are so many wonderful house cats just waiting for their forever home in animal shelters. A house cat does not need to be a kitten to fit well into your family. The main point is it is used to people.
If a stray cat comes to your door, you should check if it has a microchip in its neck. You should also be sure the cat does not belong to someone else – check the newspapers and missing pet notes in the neighborhood. If you take a stray cat to your home, the owner may appear one day, and you should be ready to give the cat back. If the cat is clearly feral, it may be too wild to be a pet.
Before you take a cat you should really consider the fact a house cat lives approximately 12 years – some considerably longer. You should understand it is a long time commitment: you need to feed the cat, take it to regular vet-checks, and make sure it is taken care of during your holidays. It needs to be groomed, especially it is a long-haired cat. It needs company, and all the more so if it is your only cat. Be prepared to play with it, and show your affection to it regularly.
And please have your cat neutered / spayed. An unneutered female cat can have 2-3 litter per year, and this means a lot of kittens during a cat’s reproductive age. You would not want to add to the misery of abandoned, starving or mistreated cats. The best would to have an indoor cat – the cat faces many risks outdoors: injuries, fights, diseases. Its life span is a lot longer indoors.
If you need to give your cat away, do not abandon it. It will not survive long on its own. Try to find your cat a new home, and if you are not successful, please take your pet to a no-kill shelter that is ready to give it time to find a new home.
If you are interested in finding a cat rescue shelter,
Photographic copyrights (do not copy these photos without the permission of their individual photographers:
Grey and white tuxedo cat: iStockphoto / Silberkorn
Ginger kitten: iStockphoto / GlobalP
Tabby cat: iStockphoto / AngiePhotos
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