Deciding whether or not to get a cat - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-17-2010, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
 
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Deciding whether or not to get a cat

Hi everyone, my name is Alana. I've been wanting a cat for a long time, but I'm trying to decide if it's a good idea, and I was hoping for a little feedback. My mom is moderately allergic to cats, so that was never an option before. However, I'm living with her temporarily, and she said she's fine with me having a cat as long as it doesn't go in her room or the living room. We have hardwood floors, so carpet isn't an issue. The thing is, I'm concerned that I might be mildly allergic. I get mild reactions when I'm around cats sometimes. I went to the shelter today and when I got home, I noticed that my chest was hurting. That may be unrelated, but I am concerned. It would break my heart to adopt a cat (and I already fell in love with one at the shelter today) and then have to take him back because either me or my mom couldn't handle it. It sounds like many people with allergic spouses/family members (or even allergic themselves) get cats anyway. Any opinions on this? I know there are remedies available to try, but sometimes allergies do get worse instead of better after long term exposure, right?

Also, how traumatic is it for cats to move? I may be moving in eight months (although it's a big maybe). Are they okay with moving every now and then? I just graduated college, so my plans and living situation are somewhat up in the air.


Thanks!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 12:21 AM
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

Welcome to Cat Forum! It's great that you're asking these questions ahead of time.

The shelter I've volunteered at will do something they call a Towel Test when they have someone that has allergy questions. They would rub a towel on the cat then the person wears it around their neck and sleeps with it for a couple days. So the best time to do this would be when you have a couple days in a row with no work/plans. If you have a mild reaction, then try taking an allergy medication and see if it helps. Your mother would need to do the same test.

As far as keeping the cat out of your mother's room and the living room....the bedroom shouldn't be any problem, but what sort of mechanism do you have for the living room? Is there a door? If you're planning on gates, you'll need to stack up at least 2, maybe 3....assuming you have a doorway. Cats can't be trained like a dog to stay out of a room.

Between your mother's allergies, the room restrictions and your pending move, I would really recommend waiting...


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 12:28 AM
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

I'll start with the cats moving around thing. Cats do not like change and do get stressed out easily with any change to their environment, some cats even freak out if a piece of furniture is changed. So if you actually do adopt a cat, set up one room for the cat first and let it stay in just that one room for a couple days before introducing it to the rest of the house. And when you move, do the same thing, set up the room for the cat before you set up the rest of the house. They need to be put into a smaller space to get used to the new sounds and smells. You do not want to over stress them.
As with the allergies, yes you can solve them, but they can also get worse. I used to own rats too, and I was fine with my first one, and then when I got 4 more after my other ones passed away, I developed allergies. It started off slowly, just an allergic reaction whenever I held them, then I actually developed very sever asthma where I woke up with asthma attacks almost every night (they were in my room), so after almost a year of owning them, I had to find a new home for them and my asthma is pretty much gone now. So it definitley is a hard decision to make, why not go to your doctor and get an allergy test?
Best of luck!
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 12:52 AM
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

I was in a very similar situation. I am mildly allergic to cats (both long-hair and short-hair), and asthmatic. I was sub-letting at a house for the summer after my Junior year of college, one of the girls who lived in the house had a cat. She kept the cat in her room most of the time and he was never allowed in my room. I didn't have a single problem while I was living there. Except the time I decided to try to pet the cat and he jumped in my arms and stuck his tail in my nose but it wasn't too bad. I changed my shirt and washed my hands and the itchy eyes went away after an hour or so.

Fast forward to my senior year, close to graduation. I wanted to get a pet to keep me company after graduation. However, I didn't think that a dog would be a good option because they require more space and need to be walked. I was considering a cat but didn't think that my allergies would permit me to keep one. My college roommate then told me that her cousin was a Bengal cat breeder and that they tend to be less allergenic than a normal cat. So I visited her house (which, at the time, was residence to 18-20 cats and kittens). I didn't sneeze or sniffle once, and I didn't get itchy eyes or any wheezing. I even buried my face in one cat's fur and didn't even have any problems. I then picked out my Teddy, who was 10 months old, I took him home two months later. Back in October, I went back and picked out my Leo (who is actually one of Teddy's litter mates) because the breeder was getting out of breeding because she has a 1 year old and doesn't have the time or money to care for the cats like she once did. She was also having a hard time finding homes for her older kittens (i.e. 1 year and up).

In an ideal world, I would have gone to a shelter. However, I have found a breed of cat that doesn't have any negative impacts on my health and I love this breed's overall personality, intelligence, and dog like attachment to their owners. If you would like to rescue a cat, you could look for a retired stud or queen, there are also Bengal rescue groups that you could look into. I would suggest visiting a cattery first to get an idea if you or your mom are allergic to them if you are interested in pursuing this path. If you have any further questions about Bengals, I would be happy to try to answer them.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 01:50 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by doodlebug
Welcome to Cat Forum! It's great that you're asking these questions ahead of time.

The shelter I've volunteered at will do something they call a Towel Test when they have someone that has allergy questions. They would rub a towel on the cat then the person wears it around their neck and sleeps with it for a couple days. So the best time to do this would be when you have a couple days in a row with no work/plans. If you have a mild reaction, then try taking an allergy medication and see if it helps. Your mother would need to do the same test.

As far as keeping the cat out of your mother's room and the living room....the bedroom shouldn't be any problem, but what sort of mechanism do you have for the living room? Is there a door? If you're planning on gates, you'll need to stack up at least 2, maybe 3....assuming you have a doorway. Cats can't be trained like a dog to stay out of a room.

Between your mother's allergies, the room restrictions and your pending move, I would really recommend waiting...

Our house is weird and has doors everywhere, so it's easy to block off sections of the house.

I've never heard of a towel test, but I could ask them about that at the shelter. Waiting would probably be the mature thing to do...except that I already fell in love with a cat at the shelter and really want to adopt him. I appreciate the perspective, though. I'm still on the fence.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 11:07 AM
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

One more set of questions...since you just graduated...do you have a job? Are you financially prepared to support this cat? Have you read any of the nutrition threads and understand that a high quality wet food diet is advised and more expensive that grocery store kibble? Do you have a reserve for emergency vet bills? It seems that newly adopted cats more often than not, end up at the vet for something within the first month or so...typically a URI or UTI brought on by stress of being relocated. I would advise a cat emergency fund of at least $500 before adopting.

An example....a week or so before Christmas, Holly (a healthy 3 year old), developed diarrhea for 3 days, refused to eat, had a fever and was dehydrated. The vet visit included a fecal test (for parasites), an x-ray (in case she ingested a foreign object or was blocked), a blood test (looking for organ failures/indicators of poisoning), sub-q fluids (to re-hydrate her) and an antibiotic prescription....$360.


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 11:57 AM
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

Hi, Alana. It's nice to meet you. I think you're doing a wonderful job on being responsible by asking questions and taking everything into consideration before adopting. You've been given some wonderful advice and information already. I understand all too well about the allergy issue. When I was younger, I had reactions to cats. I couldn't be around long haired cats (my aunt had a Persian) without breaking out in a rash. I, also, couldn't be around Siamese (a friend of the family had Meezers) without my eyes swelling almost completely shut. Other cats could cause those reactions or could cause me to have the itchy watery eyes, sneezing, etc. Then when I was around 16, I found that I could be around some cats with no problems, but others would still cause a problem. Now, many years later, I live in a multi-cat household that includes long haired, Siamese, and others with no problems, so there is a chance that your body will change over time and you won't have to worry about allergies. In the meantime there are things you can do to assist with allergy problems. You'll find these things mentioned throughout the forum, but I'll let you know what I do. Even though, I don't have a problem anymore and neither does my husband or daughter, I have an aunt that's allergic to cats and my father-in-law is, as well, so I try to do things to make it easier for them when they visit. I keep the litter boxes very well cleaned. Rule of thumb is 1 litter box + 1 per cat. I have a HEPA air filter running almost all of the time. I vacuum the rooms with carpet regularly and keep the floors swept and cleaned where we have hardwood. I bathe my cats or rinse them down about once a month, plus brush/comb them a few times a week. We, also, make sure to change the air filter in our house once a month. These things seem to really help people that are allergic to cats be able to visit. During the summer months, we cook out with our neighbors fairly regularly and the husband is allergic to them, but he doesn't have any problems coming in our house.

As far as illness, some good points were made. Like Malyka...she appeared completely healthy at the shelter, but within a few days of coming home, she ended up with a URI, which required a round of antibiotics and constant care for awhile. Osiris was the same way. Siana was found as a stray and she appeared fine, but after close inspection, she had a wound on her neck and we went through several weeks of care due to weakness, diarrhea, and tapeworm treatment. These are just a few of the things we've dealt with recently. That doesn't count Teya having to go to the vet several times to get a scratch on her eye taken care of and a URI when we got her, then going through having her spayed and the healing process.

Good luck to you!!

Erica"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
- Unknown
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by doodlebug
One more set of questions...since you just graduated...do you have a job? Are you financially prepared to support this cat? Have you read any of the nutrition threads and understand that a high quality wet food diet is advised and more expensive that grocery store kibble? Do you have a reserve for emergency vet bills? It seems that newly adopted cats more often than not, end up at the vet for something within the first month or so...typically a URI or UTI brought on by stress of being relocated. I would advise a cat emergency fund of at least $500 before adopting.

An example....a week or so before Christmas, Holly (a healthy 3 year old), developed diarrhea for 3 days, refused to eat, had a fever and was dehydrated. The vet visit included a fecal test (for parasites), an x-ray (in case she ingested a foreign object or was blocked), a blood test (looking for organ failures/indicators of poisoning), sub-q fluids (to re-hydrate her) and an antibiotic prescription....$360.
I do have a part-time job and a decent amount of savings, so if anything did come up, I would be able to afford taking care of him. I actually wanted to ask about getting pet insurance. Is that something worth doing, or ultimately does it end up being more expensive? It looks like a basic plan is $25/month on PetFirst. Haven't done much research yet, but it seems like it may be worth it, especially for the kind of illness your cat, Holly, went through. I had a dog before, so I know about all the little (or big) things that can come up medically.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 02:08 PM
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

A recent thread on pet insurance:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=64638

Personally, I think in the long run pet insurance will cost the average person more money. But you need to have the discipline to save and/or resources available when an incident occurs. Some people don't save and run their credit cards to the max (or don't have good enough credit to have a card)....for them, paying the $25 a month to the insurance company is viewed as a bill whereas putting it in a savings account isn't. It's money they don't have access to when other issues come up.

When the thread above was active, I did some quick calculations but never posted them...I compared how much I would have spent on premiums for all the cats I've had (5) and how much I've spent on vet bills for them. Of course a lot of it was estimates. The conclusion was that if insurance had paid 100% of my claims (which is doesn't, there are deductibles) and I paid $20 a month for each cat...insurance would have cost me over $2000 more than paying for it myself. Factor in the deductibles and it's probably closer to $3K. I don't think my estimates were off by that much, so for me insurance would not be worth it.


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Holly, Misty & their friend, Jake, the dog.
Onyx, Callie May, Maggie & Kobi forever in my heart.
Yes, I know I need a new signature pic...someday...
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 02:15 PM
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Re: Deciding whether or not to get a cat

Welcome to the forum!

As far as allergies go, as long as it's not a severe allergy there's meds or shots that you can take to prevent issues, also there's hypo-allergenic shampoos that can be used (I used to use them to bathe my cats when my aunts would visit since they're highly allergic and they never had an issue with my cat, for the longest time they forgot I actually had one, LOL). Also shelters might be able to help you with the allergy thing, or talk to your doc and he can set you up with allergy testing to see if, and how severe, the allergies may be. Good luck!

As far as moving, When we got Alizea she lived in my moms house with me for a few days, then went to my DH (at the time DB) from Feb 01-June 03, then went to stay with his cousin for 6 months while he was away at basic training (ARMY). After that we moved to GA and lived in one house from Feb 04-Sept 05, then another till June 08 when we moved here to TX and she didn't have any issues with any of it. She was able to adapt to the changes very well. Now that's not to say that ALL cats will, but she was very good about it.

Mommy to Justice, Emily & Isabella (humans), Scarlett & Sasha (doggies)and Rosalie & Zoey (kitties).
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