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Thread: Am I qualified to own a cat?

  1. #1
    MIA, RIP, or Busy...
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    Am I qualified to own a cat?

    Okay, I need help. I've seen "help with cat food, my cat can read my mind, what should I name these kittens, etc." but I need input of a different sort from the expert, veteran cat owners. What to expect????

    I've never owned a cat, always dogs (and well now, various fish and one hamster). I haven't been "allowed" to have another pet but due to other circumstances, that restriction is about to be lifted

    Anyways, I am strongly considering a cat. Needs to be kid friendly (my kids are 4 and 8) among other things I am nervous about so I thought I'd run it by some of you guys for info:

    1) How hard is it to train them "not" to scratch on furniture and bedding and is it really horrible to declaw them?
    2) How hard is it to really give them a bath? brushing?
    3) Do they easily go to the litter box?
    4) Do they really find delight in houseplants?
    5) how much do they really punce around and jump on shelves and stuff?
    6) If they try and play too rough, is there a good way to train them not to bite or claw?

    Any other info (pros/cons/tips) would be greatly appreciated. I am looking to adopt a homeless kitty from the shelter (I've looked at so many and I want to take them all home ) and I'm thinking "kitten" so they could adapt to our lifestyle better.

    Thanks in advance!
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  2. #2
    Hypermediocrity Amanda's Avatar
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    My two cats have been with me since I was 21 (9 years), and wholly unqualified to take care of anything other than ... nothing, really. I wasn't even very good at taking care of myself back then. And they're both happy and healthy and wonderful and perfect.

    1) It's horrible to declaw them. I'm also a big fan of PETA, so you'll probably get differing opinions. They cut off part of their toes with the declawing, though, and to me, that's not cool. My cats don't scratch furniture, and all it took was a simple spray bottle to deter them when they were kittens.

    2) Mine love being brushed. LOVE it. One of their favorite things ever. They're both shorthaired, though, so I don't know if it's a bigger ordeal with longhaired breeds. I've never given them a bath. Maybe they're filthy. I don't know. They seem pretty clean, though, and my vet told me that their inherent fastidiousness was enough to keep them as sanitary as they need to be. They're indoor cats, so that cuts down on the dirt factor considerably.

    3) Yes. Usually their mommy will train them, but...okay, my one cat was a stray. He didn't have a mommy to teach him anything. And he used his box from the first time he had access to it. I put him down in it when I got him home (he was roughly 10 weeks old then), and he just knew what to do. And has done it ever since.

    4) Yes. And a bunch of them are poisonous to cats. Google it, because you don't want to kill your kitten.

    5) A lot. And it's really cute, and you won't mind. And if you do, use the spray bottle.

    6) Spray bottle. That's the only thing that ever worked for me. And damn, I wish I hadn't found the attack stuff so cute when they were babies, because I gave them the impression it was okay. And now I have scars.

  3. #3
    Retired! hepcat's Avatar
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    Amanda, your cats are covered in cat spit. Just like mine. The only people I've heard of giving cats a bath are people who "show" cats. Mine are outdoor cats that roll in the dirt sometimes, but then they turn around and groom until they feel clean again.

    Also, as far as scratching you and your kids...I think kittens aren't completely in control of their claws yet. If you give a yelp when they really get you, they start to get the message you don't like it. My grown cats will jump on my bare legs with their claws retracted so that I only feel their fuzzy paws. I didn't try to train them, but they learned it anyway. Furniture can be more of a problem IMO. Even though we've provided scratching posts and they can go outdoors and scratch on a tree, they still get their favorite easy chair in the middle of the night.

    Your kids would go nuts for a kitten. Oh, here's a tip - get two kittens. They end up scratching each other more than attacking you, and it's pure entertainment to watch them play.
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  4. #4
    FORT Fogey
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    1) How hard is it to train them "not" to scratch on furniture and bedding and is it really horrible to declaw them?
    2) How hard is it to really give them a bath? brushing?
    3) Do they easily go to the litter box?
    4) Do they really find delight in houseplants?
    5) how much do they really punce around and jump on shelves and stuff?
    6) If they try and play too rough, is there a good way to train them not to bite or claw?

    I've had my cat since I was 18 (she's 13 now), and I agree with Amanda, they are pretty resilient little creatures.

    1) The best thing to do is provide an alternate and try to get them to use that (scratching post, etc) but they can be incredibly stubborn. I'm not a big fan of declawing, it makes them virtually helpless. Even if a cat is kept strictly indoors, if it ever got out, it would be pretty much defenseless.
    2) I've never bathed my cat either, and she stays pretty clean. They are constantly grooming themselves. Most of them like brushing--they like the attention and the way it feels.
    3) I have found this for the most part to be instinctual. When I have dealt with very young kittens, I would just put them in the litter box from time to time, and they get the hang of it. It's a natural instinct to cover up what they do when they go, and a litter box is the logical place. I have run into occasional trouble with a male cat "spraying" (marking territory), and I don't know if you can train them not to, I never had much success.
    4) Yes, they do. Like Amanda said, be careful of what you keep around the cat. I had a friend that would put foil around her plants (supposedly, they don't like the way it feels) to deter her cats from eating them, she said it seemed to work.
    5) Constantly. And I swear the one place you don't want them to jump will be the most fascinating place in the house for them. I have found a favorite game to be taking a running leap at a table and clearing everything off said table in the process. A spray bottle does help with training here. It is very fun to watch them "track and hunt," and then pounce. Sometimes she pounces on nothing, just for fun.
    6) The best thing I've found is just to discourage it right away. If the kitty gets too rough, just put her down and don't give any more attention to that behavior. Don't let them get by with it as kittens, it's not nearly as cute to be clawed by a full grown cat. I've had mine long enough to know when that telltale tail twitch means she wants to "play rough," and I know not to encourage her at that point. She's otherwise very good at just batting with her paws, not her claws.

    One fascinating thing I've read is that hunting is not purely instinct. They have to be taught how to do it. A kitten seperated too early will not fully possess this skill. I've also read (for what it's worth) that when a cat brings you a "present" she's killed, that she is in essence treating you as her "kitten," and trying to teach you the wonderful gift of hunting. Don't know if there's any truth in it, but my cat (when she would go outside, now that she's older, she stays in) would bring me presents from time to time and DEMAND to be told how wonderful she is. Cats make great pets, I wouldn't trade mine for anything else in the world

  5. #5
    FORT Fogey
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    My cat (creatively named "Kitty" ) is 9 years old. We found her on our doorstep 7 years ago so I never had a kitten.

    1) I think declawing cats is absolutely horrible. The scratching really isn't that bad. We had a spray bottle to discourage her. We also make a weird noise that Kitty now recognises as a "Don't do that!" noise. Get a scratching post definitely. I hear it helps if you spread some cat nip on the scartching post to get them used to it, but I don't know if it works. We also have these little sticky strips of plastic that stick to the furniture and prevent her from scartching.
    2) Kitty ADORES being brushed. I find it quite theraputic too. Kitty is an indoor cat, so I don't think she gets dirty enough to be given a bath. I can't imagine she would enjoy it.
    3) Yep. She has no problem with the litter box, but then again, I didn't have her as a kitten. Word of warning-- After Kitty does her business, she reallllllly likes to bury it. She even scratches on the walls and tore a hole in the wallpaper. So we put cardboard on the wall so she wouldn't damage it further. I have no idea if all cats are like this.
    4) Yes. She eats almost every plant she gets her paws on. We did check to make sure every plant is nontoxic for kitties before putting them out. My mother collects orchids, but she doesn't seem to like to eat those. She does like to sit in the middle of them and just sniff them.
    5) My cat is very lazy. Perhaps it is her age, but she only goes through certain periods of "Crazy Cat." Her eyes become large and she just sprints through the house. Kitty likes to play with small rubber bouncy balls, pens/pencils etc. She loves to sit on the newspaper/homework while I'm reading it. Also, playing with laser pointers is so much fun. She will literally spin around in circles chasing the little red dot. Hilarious!
    6) Kitty has never bitten anyone. I have no idea why. She does claw me when she goes into "Crazy Cat" mode. Also, when she's sitting on my chest while I lay down, she puts her paw on my face and just flexes her claws in and out. That hurts a bit, but never too bad. I personally don't think claws hurt that much. I've gotten cut a few times, but nothing fatal!

    Best of luck with the kitty if you get one!!!

  6. #6
    FORT Fogey joeguy's Avatar
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    you don't own a cat, they own you!!!!!

  7. #7
    Anarchist AJane's Avatar
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    Well, if I can provide a dissenting opinion on declawing...I've had my 11-year-old cat since she was 3 weeks old, and had her declawed when she was *fixed*. They only do the front paws, btw, cats need their hind leg claws for grip. I lived in apartments for quite a few years, so she has always been an indoor cat and never missed her claws. I'd probably declaw a kitten...an older cat with claws is more likely to have better manners and won't scratch up your stuff.

    Ineeda, cats are amazing adaptable. An older cat would love a nice home with your family. Plus, it will be able to defend itself against your 4-year-old. I'm only half-joking...my 5-year-old and 18-month-old girls are very rough with my poor old kitty (it's all meant in love, but believe me, their love can hurt). I don't want to scare you but a kitten will probably scratch your little one up pretty good, I've seen it happen, and then the child doesn't want to be around the animal.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. We're kinda in the same boat, considering a puppy (great-grandma's dog is preggo). At least it would take some of the heat off the cat.
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  8. #8
    Fort Beaudyfull BorderEevil2's Avatar
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    *stumbles in room*

    Cats? Cats!

    Yeah I am in a household of CATS.....
    I love em dearly but they are like little children if u happen to have 2 or more felines running amuck indoors 24/7....

    There is a lot of responsiblity....

  9. #9
    Courtesy and Goodwill Mantenna's Avatar
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    Hmm, just so you can get the opinion of someone who has an . . . um . . . unusual kitty.

    1) How hard is it to train them "not" to scratch on furniture and bedding and is it really horrible to declaw them?

    I'm not a fan of declawing cats, because the procedure does amputate part of their "fingers". If you can, try to just train them to scratch only where they are allowed. What I did was to show my cat (Missy) her post and gave her a treat every time she scratched it herself. Now, she rarely (if ever) tries to scratch the furniture, and often goes to scratch her post . . . even if it's just a half-hearted attempt to get a treat.

    2) How hard is it to really give them a bath? brushing?

    Missy just tries to kill and eat the brush most of the time. But if you catch her in a good mood, or use something other than a brush, she doesn't have a problem with it. Never tried to give her a bath, and likely never will.

    3) Do they easily go to the litter box?

    She did . . . I got her when she was 4 weeks old, and she was already fully trained. Just be sure to put the food and the litterbox in different rooms . . . it helps down the road if there is any trouble.

    4) Do they really find delight in houseplants?

    I don't really have real houseplants around, but Missy loves getting into the fake plants, chewing on them, hiding inside, and jumping out to ambush me like the guy in the Pink Panther movies. So I'll say yes.

    5) How much do they really pounce around and jump on shelves and stuff?

    I believe they'll go anywhere if you let them. Granted, my kitty is pretty crazy, but she gets into everything if she feels like it.

    6) If they try and play too rough, is there a good way to train them not to bite or claw?

    Usually it just takes repetition and firm "No"s when they misbehave (followed, of course, by effusive praise and petting when they're good), but in extreme situations, here's one reliable solution. The can of doom . . . the bane of cats everywhere. Take an empty soda can, put about 5 pennies and a marble inside, and tape the top closed. If they're being really bad, shake it, and they will flee. This also works if . . . say . . . they are trying to climb your curtains or scratch the nice furniture. It works best if they don't see you toss it or shake it, because then it's not a punishment from you, it's like the omnipresent cat god is watching them.

    The most important thing is to make sure you never play with them with your hand. It then becomes a toy to them and they'll always go after it.

  10. #10
    FORT Fanatic MalibuPam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ineedalife
    1) How hard is it to train them "not" to scratch on furniture and bedding and is it really horrible to declaw them?
    2) How hard is it to really give them a bath? brushing?
    3) Do they easily go to the litter box?
    4) Do they really find delight in houseplants?
    5) how much do they really punce around and jump on shelves and stuff?
    6) If they try and play too rough, is there a good way to train them not to bite or claw?
    1. I've had cats all my life, and have never made any effort to train them not to scratch. The only cat that did any damage had access to rattan wallpaper. The wallpaper was history. No other cat has managed to damage anything noticeable. Declawing is a
    2. No need to bathe them. They keep themselves very clean, unless they are elderly or ill. Longhairs may need a brushing. If I ever have to board a cat while I go on vacation, I'll have the kennel do a bath before pick up.
    3. They will almost always go in the litterbox, as long as they know where it is. Occaisonally my husband's cat will get tee'd off and poop in the closet.
    4. N/A
    5. The older/fatter the cat, the less of this will happen. If you start with a kitten, expect to see it climbing the window screens. Some playful cats like to jump on shelves and push things off with a paw. I've seen energetic young Siamese do this sort of thing. None of my cats do it now.
    6. My advice is to be fast. If you are dangling a string in front of a cat, keep your fingers out of the way. Some cats will bat at you with a soft pad, but you are asking a lot of a predator in the heat of the game. If you get scratched, it is probably your own fault. Some male cats, particularly ones that were neutered late, nip when you pet them. This can get annoying. It is deeply ingrained behavior that has to do with mating; they are enjoying the attention and don't understand why you don't appreciate their response. I might steer away from late neutered males.

    I know you mentioned a rescue cat. I might suggest that you consider an adult instead of a kitten. Kittens can be a lot of work. Kittens will climb the screens and curtains, you have to watch them when they are on the loose, they will climb shelves and knock things off. I've had several adult rescues. They are so much easier. They are mature. They don't do naughty kitten things. Plus, you can get a good idea of their personality right off.

    The only kitten I ever raised is a scaredy cat. She is almost nocturnal. We hardly ever see her. On the other hand, the last cat we got from a shelter is like a dog. She follows my husband around the house meowing at him. She will happily stare down a dog. She is not in the least afraid of my 4 kids, ages 5-10, and she can barely jump from the floor to bed because she is 2 years old and genetically obese. We got her from a shelter that keeps all of the cats together in a big room. I had all the kids go in and sit on the floor, and then we waited to see which cat had the guts to come over to say hi. Right there, we weeded out all the scaredy cats and antisocial cats, and we came home with a winner. We were also really happy to be able to give her a home, because right there I overheard other people disparage her :phhht because of her weight (she is really the fattest cat I've ever seen in my life). Nobody else wanted to give her a home. And she is my husband's best friend now.

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