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First let me tell you about myself... I am a college student. I live with three other guys on campus right now. This September we will be moving to a 4 bdrm house off campus. With the space we'll have, we are considering adding a cat to our house. In starting to research cats in general there seems to be a lot to decide; breed, breeder or shelter, kitten or adult, etc.

I'd be looking for an exclusivly house cat. Affectionate lap cat but also playful/active. I'm kind of partial to shorter haired cats. I think it makes them look sleeker and 'sportier.' Short hairs usually mean less and easier grooming as well.

Also, I would like to know costs involved. Initial purchase, toys, necessities and vet costs as well as monthly costs if possible. I have owned several pets (dog, ferrets, snake) in the past so I'm not a complete newb when it comes to pets. Just want to know as much as I can so that we can find a cat that fits us, but also so we can give the best home to the cat as possible.

If you can help me out with any/all of these topics, please post. Your help is greatly appreciated.
 

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Hi tarpshack,

When searching for a cat, I highly recommend visiting http://www.petfinder.com. There are thousands of animals listed on that site and all of them are looking for homes. I think you'll find that every healthy cat is active and playful. Not all cats are lapcats, so see if you can spend some time playing with the cats before you adopt one.

http://www.breedlist.com/breed.html will give you a list of all breeds and their traits and even links to breeders websites. If you find a breed you like, check into local rescues. You may find a purebred in need of a home.

Kittens are a lot of fun, but they're also a lot more work than an adult. Keep in mind that kittens are babies and don't know everything about being a cat yet. The choice between kitten or adult is ultimately up to you.

Look to spend about $80 at your local shelter to adopt a cat. Purebred cats from a breeder cost a lot more, anywhere from $200 to $1,500 or more. I got my cat from a "Free to a good home" ad in the paper.

Veterinarian costs vary by vet. Call around your area and check on prices on spay/neuter operations (an absolute must) and vaccinations. Check your local laws to see which vaccinations are required by law (such as rabies). Since you will be keeping your cat indoors all the time you may not need all the vaccinations veterinarians offer.

You will also need to purchase:
litter box: if you get a kitten, get a box with low sides so its easy for him or her to crawl into it. A lot of cat forum members have good luck with under-the-bed storage bins. My own cat uses an extra-large litter tray from Petsmart. Litter boxes run from a couple dollars for your basic tray to over $100 for an electronic Litter Maid.
kitty litter: There are plenty of choices for kitty litter out there, but your cat will decide which one he likes best. Regular clay, clumping clay, crystal, wheat-based, or newspaper based are some of your options. Depending on the size of the container and the brand of litter, look to spend anywhere from $3 to $15 on kitty litter.
food and water bowls: Choose ceramic or glass food and water bowls. Plastic could cause feline acne (never pleasant). I have a Petmate water fountain for my cat so he'll drink more water and I highly recommend them. You can go to Goodwill or yard sales and get glass bowls for under a dollar. Or you can go to Petsmart and spend $12 per dish. I spent $40 on the fountain.
food: Even the mere mention of pet food can start lively debates on this site. I personally recommend an all-canned diet of high-quality food such as Wellness, Felidae, or Innova. I spend about $30 per month on Wellness cat food for my cat. I do this because for most of his life I spent $7 per month on Purina Cat Chow and gave my cat diabetes. Invest in good quality food now and it will save you a bundle years from now. Please believe me on this one. If $30 per month is too much, feed 50% dry and 50% wet, but always a high quality food. Check out the Health & Nutrition forum for more information on food.
toys: this is the fun part. You can spend so much money on toys initially because you won't know what kind of toy your cat will prefer. A lot of cats like fishing pole toys such as Da Bird. Another good one is the Cat Dancer. My own cat likes catnip toys like mice or a little plastic ball stuffed with catnip. His favorite is a little burlap sack filled with Cosmic County catnip. Cat can also have endless fun with things around the house like balls of tinfoil, shoelaces, or the rings from gallon milk jugs. Keep all toys with strings away from your cat while he is alone and never play with your cat with your hands or feet.
scratching post: Invest in a large, sturdy scratching post preferably covered with something other than carpet. You might even consider getting a cat tree. They're expensive, but sure helpful when your cat gets a case of the wiggins and needs somewhere to climb. Declawing is not an acceptable way to train your cat not to scratch.

Cat Forum is especially lucky to have a veterinarian frequently visit our boards. She also has a website we often refer to and I'd like to send you to her free article library. It's at http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=library. There is a wealth of information at this site and is an excellent way to do your studying before you bring home your new cat or kitten.

Good luck, welcome to the forums, and I hope to see you around. :)
 

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In most cases, if you get a kitten, how you bring it up will dictate its personality. If it is brought up with love, attention, and affection, that's how it will grow to be toward you. A cat that is brought up in a household with rowdy children that chase it and manhandle it, and adults that don't give it much attention will tend to be standoffish toward others. However, you have to be aware that a kitten can be a handful and some people don't realize that. It is a baby and it will try to get into everything (just like a human baby) so your home must be "kitten proofed" to make it safe for the kitten.

If you consider an adult cat you can get a pretty good indication of its personality from a couple visits to a shelter. A shelter cat can make just as good a pet as a purebreed. Don't be mislead if you have any allergy problems when you visit a shelter. I don't have allergy problems with my cats but at the shelter I get itchy, watery eyes, and sneeze a lot.

Keep your cat indoors. It will live a much longer healthier life inside. Also, being that you live with 3 others, the doors need to be watched carefully when coming and going and everyone needs to be aware of that.

There is so much more information you will get from others here as well. Good luck and keep us all posted.
 

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If I were you, I would definately adopt from a shelter. Although a loving personality is seen as a trait of many of the purebred cats, you really don't know what you'll get until the kitten grows up. When you get a cat from a shelter, you can visit many cats and see which one fits your personality profile. Since you're a college student, a kitten is probably too much work for you right now. There are tons of adult cats waiting for homes in your area!

As for initial purchases, if you get an adult cat from a shelter, they will likely already be fixed and have their shots. Since it will be an indoor cat, many people find that it is no longer necessary to vaccinate every year. Many people just get vaccinations every three years, or not at all. So the cost of vaccines would not be high if you got an adult. Kittens, on the other hand, have to get several rounds of shots, and then a booster at 1 year of age.

A kitty from a shelter may or may not need deworming and defleaing. It depends how nice the shelter is. You can ask about whether they spay/neuter, deworm/deflea before you adopt an animal. You also have to think about the adoption fee. Of course, if it is an older, already fixed animal, the fee is probably cheaper.

You will need to take the kitty for a check-up every year and that is about $40 American? (I'm Canadian, so I'm taking a guess) I'm just going to approximate things in US $ for the rest of the post. You should also save up at least $500 as an emergency fund. Many people don't have problems, but it is best to be safe. My cats have bad teeth and that has cost me about $750 a year.

Here's a good article on selecting a food:
http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=library&act=show&item=004

Here's another one on the necessity of canned food, because I think it is really important:
http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=library&act=show&item=whycatsneedcannedfood
 

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Discussion Starter #5
First of all, thanks for all posts so far. The petfinder.com link is very useful. I was leaning towards rescuing an adult cat in the first place.

I realized after reading my post again that my 'question' wasn't very well defined, but you've all answered well so far. Let me know if you can think of anything I might not have considered or might have overlooked as I've never owned a cat. Thanks again. BTW... I've been meaning to ask you Annissa. What breed of cat is Sabby? He's beautiful!
 

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Most of the information you have gotten is good, and should help get you started. I just had a few thoughts to add.

I agree that a shelter is probably your best bet. Maybe the strongest argument for an adult cat in your case is that it won't need 24/7 attention like a kitten will, and you'll most likely be terribly busy with your classes and managing the household. And again, if you adopt an adult cat from a shelter, the chances are good that they will already be fixed, whcih could save you around $100 or so.

It occurred to me that you might want to make sure it's clear to whom the cat belongs. People can get VERY attached to cats, and in a few years you guys will all start to move out and establish independent lives. You don't want a big brawl breaking out about who gets the cat. I"m assuming the cat owner will be you. Make sure the cat knows it, too - you should be the one to feed it, play with it, pet it, and maintain its box most often. Many cats will "pair bond" and get attached to one individual in particular, and you'll want it to be with you. Now, I know this brings up a possible controversy of "well, it's YOUR cat, YOU pay for it." You might want to consider how best to handle this based on your friends and your situation - just bear in mind that you want to avoid unpleasantness down the road.

Something else to keep in mind in a house full of men - make sure everyone knows to NEVER wrestle with the cat or use hands as a toy, especially if the cat is young. For one thing, they aren't dogs and they don't much care for being grabbed and wrestled, and for another thing, they'll learn to bite and scratch and will probably shy away from being touched and handled. A lot of guys, I've found, seem to like to play with cats this way. My kitty was brought up chewing on hands, and it took me months to teach him to stop.

On the whole, once you get started, cats are wonderful housemates and the expense is far outweighed by the pleasure of their company. Good luck and have fun!
 

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Maybe also think of what will happen with the cat once you're done with the school. Are you going to be the cat's owner or will you have a custody case on your hand with your mates wanting to spend time with the cat too? :D

A cat can live up to 20 years, so it's a life long comittment.

Everyone else has replied on all other questions, so I thought I'd point out this part. A cat will walk into your heart with all four paws and it'll stay there forever!
 

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Yes, I was intending on being the primary owner and ultimately the final owner if we were to split up down the road. I'm glad several of you brought that up. I was intending on having most of the cat's possessions in my room as well as being the one responsible for cleaning and feeding as well as the financial obligations.

I would hope the cat recognizes me as the primary caregiver and forms that bond with me, but I understand that it might not happen that way.

I am also glad many of you have mentioned the "not playing with your hands/feet" with a cat. My house has only ever housed dogs at home. Obviously you play with them in different way than you would with a cat. And though I would never wrestle with a cat, I didn't think about the problems with hand and feet playing. These are the things I was hoping to figure out through forum discussion. Thanks again. Keep it up. I'm loving the posts.
 

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Wow, everyone already gave you such great advice :) I hope if you decide to get a cat, you stick around. This is such a great site and its been so helpful to me!

I'm not sure if I can add anything to this, but I hope so. As far as being the primary owner, you should definately keep any paperwork you get when you first adopt or purchase the cat, as well as vet bills, etc.

Depending on how big the house is, you may need two littlerboxes. Especially if the house is two stories, one for each floor. My cat stays in my room most of the time, so I only have one, but I think most everyone on here has at least two and finds them both used quite a bit.

Toys are something you may spend a lot of money on, and get no use out of. I think before you go buying a lot of toys you should wait until you let the cat settle in a little bit. It may be scared at first and not interested in playing. Once you find its personality, adjust according to that. I personally know my cat doesn't play too much with me. I have a fishingpole toy that he likes, but it only lasts a minute or two, then he gets bored. However, he'll roam around the living room and find any small thing on the floor and chase it around for a long time! the plastic rings from milk jugs are GREAT! I think you can find more free things to play with than real toys the cat may or may not like.

I don't know how much of a "college guy" you are, but almost everyone I knew in college were really into parties. That's fine, but I would highly suggest that when you're going to have lots of people over, especially drinking, that you keep the cat in one room and make sure its strictly off limits to everyone. You don't want the cat to get scared and escape from the house.

Overall, cats are wonderful :) They can be picky, and standoffish, and just plain stubborn, but that's why we love them! And I'm sure you will too!
 

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OsnobunnieO said:
Wow, everyone already gave you such great advice :) I hope if you decide to get a cat, you stick around. This is such a great site and its been so helpful to me!



Overall, cats are wonderful :) They can be picky, and standoffish, and just plain stubborn, but that's why we love them! And I'm sure you will too!
 

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tarpshack said:
BTW... I've been meaning to ask you Annissa. What breed of cat is Sabby? He's beautiful!
:D

Sabby is a domestic short hair. He's the product of a purebred siamese escaping her home while she was in heat. He's got the blue eyes, the points, and the voice of a siamese, but he missed out on the brains. :)

I've been thinking about any surprises that might come up with a new cat and here's what I've come up with:

My cat pees outside the litterbox! Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in cats. If your cat begins to pee outside the box, it's time for a trip to the vet. If your vet rules out a UTI it's time to start looking towards the litterbox for answers. Cats are very particular about their litterboxes. Some cats need to have the litter scooped every time they use it. Some cats need two boxes, one to pee in and one to poop in. Sometimes they don't like the litter or the amount of litter or any combination of these problems. Trial and error will solve this problem. One of the first things I'd buy before I brought a new cat home is a bottle of enzyme cleaner such as Nature's Miracle. It's available at Petsmart and you should always have some on hand for pee and vomit stains.

My cat keeps biting my ankles! Cats (especially kittens) love to attack moving feet. Deter them by tying a string to your belt and letting it drag on the floor behind you. I think every cat owner has tripped or stepped on their cats and it's best to keep small ones out from underfoot.

My cat won't shut up! My cat has one of the loudest meows I've ever heard and he especially loves to sing at 3:00 in the morning. Cats are naturally nocturnal, so you have to train them to sleep while you're sleeping. The best way to do that is to wear them out. Here's Jackson Galaxy's article on Play Therapy: http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=library&act=show&item=012.

Other things you'll need to do is take your cat in for yearly vet checkups. At this time you might want to have your cat's teeth cleaned. Since it's yearly, you'll have plenty of time to save up the money for it. Queen of the Nile's suggestion of having a $500 emergency fund is excellent.

Expect your new cat to be scared when you first bring him home. Set up base camp for him ( http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=library&act=show&item=basecamphowtoprepareforyournewcat ) and give him a couple days to warm up to you.

From what you've told us, you'll be able to give a very loving permanent home to a pet cat. Since you like the looks of my cat, I did a search on petfinder for similar-looking cats. Of course, personality is far more important, so always make sure their personalities will mesh with your household.

Snowshoe: http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=3118110&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=
This one will actually look a lot like Sabby when he gets older: http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=3135949&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=
Lynx Point: http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=3171763&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=
Blue point: http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=2174400&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=
Pretty boy: http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=2997932&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=
Sealpoint (probably purebred): http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=3166940&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=
Beautiful flame-point: http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=3145590&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=
Very interesting mix: http://www.petfinder.com/pet.cgi?action=2&pet=3155602&adTarget=468catgeneral&SessionID=410690226978d4af-app2&display=&preview=1&row=0&tmpl=&stat=

And all those are just a sampling from the first page!

I have to say, I envy you being able to choose from such gorgeous animals. :)
 

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CyberPet said:
Maybe also think of what will happen with the cat once you're done with the school. Are you going to be the cat's owner or will you have a custody case on your hand with your mates wanting to spend time with the cat too? :D

A cat can live up to 20 years, so it's a life long comittment.

Everyone else has replied on all other questions, so I thought I'd point out this part. A cat will walk into your heart with all four paws and it'll stay there forever!
What CyberPet is pointing our here should be the first important thing to be brought up whenever somebody *is* ready to adopt. It should become a slogan before any sort of adoption - a pet is forever.
And all of the advice you have received is excellent - now you know what to expect and be prepared. Post pictures for us and enjoy your new baby!

p.s. Sabby's eyes make me melt too :D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
OsnobunnieO said:
I don't know how much of a "college guy" you are, but almost everyone I knew in college were really into parties. That's fine, but I would highly suggest that when you're going to have lots of people over, especially drinking, that you keep the cat in one room and make sure its strictly off limits to everyone. You don't want the cat to get scared and escape from the house.
No. Not your typical college guy. Nor are my roommates. We don't drink often and we definitly don't have drinking parties. Dinner & movie parties maybe. We moved off campus into the more expensive part of town where we won't be bothered by the noise and the partying ourselves. I'm sure a cat would adapt well.

OsnobunnieO said:
Depending on how big the house is, you may need two littlerboxes. Especially if the house is two stories, one for each floor. My cat stays in my room most of the time, so I only have one, but I think most everyone on here has at least two and finds them both used quite a bit.
Glad you brought that up. It is, as I said, a spacious house. There are two floors. My bedroom is on the first floor while the other three and a bath are all that's on the third. We also have a basement where our laundry room is. What do you recommend for litter pan placing with a setup like that?

And thanks for all the links Annissa, I will sort through them when I have a little more time. The petfinder links are great. Beautiful cats. Why wouldn't you rescue? Thanks again for everyone's help.
 

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If that was my house, I'd probably put the box in the basement to have it out of the way. If you got an adult cat that wasn't too advanced in years they should be able to make it to the basement even if they were on the top floor when they decided that they had to go. Although, having it on the ground floor would mean it was most accessible since it seems that the cat will more frequently be on that floor. But if there isn't a good spot on that floor...I'd go with the basement.

Just thought I'd add another link. I liked this article which breaks down potential costs of owning a cat:

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm ... cleid=1542
 

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I think a lot of people like to keep the litter box in the bathroom. Especially if you use flushable litter... its very convenient. I'm not sure if your upstairs roomies would mind, but its a thought. Other than that... anywhere that isn't very high traffic that's easy to get in and out of. Even a closet that you can either leave the door open, or instal a cat door. Mine is in my bedroom under a desk, because that's pretty much where my cat lives. Once you find a spot that works, keep it there... it'll save you tons of trouble.
 

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BTW... I've been meaning to ask you Annissa. What breed of cat is Sabby? He's beautiful!
Well, I don't mean to but in, but many people have said my cat Ashley looks like Sabby:





(Well, Ok, I actually just like to show her off.. :oops: :oops: ) Anyway, a few people have told me she looks like a "Snowshoe", and I did a search for that on Petfinder and got alot of Sabby and Ashley look-a-likes :D
 

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wow, great answers, everybody :D

I'd like to say a word for pedigree cats that come from responsible breeders, NOT stores. Yes, they cost a lot of money, ususally 10x more than a shelter cat. I believe by making a decision to buy, you get a much more rounded and refined pet, one that was never traumatized by being rejected by their owners, beeing cooped up in a cage or by unethical treatment by those around him. And of course, the breeder will always breed only the best cats, those with perfect tempers to make household pets.

My Marsh came from a fantastic breeder. He's the best cat i've ever seen, EVER. Beautiful, extremely smart, affectionate, lap cat, lovable, without even an ounce of negativity or bad temper. Never scratched or bit anyone. Always sure of himself. He's like a dog, always first at the door to greet visitors. People who see him, even though they may have hated cats all their lives, love him after 30seconds of meeting him.

Marsh is an all-white polydactyl silky Munchkin... saying he's RARE is not even close to truth, he's one of a kind :D He'll lie on his back for me all day long, he sleeps with me, he loves to snuggle, loves having this stomach rubbed.

I know there's a problem with all the homeless cats in this country, but when you're making a 20 year investment, i think you need to carefully weigh all your options.

good luck!


 

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I am sorry, Marsh.....I am going to have to respectfully disagree. I agree, Marsh is a GORGEOUS cat, and you can see that he has a wonderful personality and spirit by just looking into his eyes. Having said that, I don't think you can find a better friend anywhere than your local shelter.

I DO understand that some people want a purebred, but it makes me very sad when people think that a cat from a good breeder is somehow going to be better, smarter, more loving, and a nicer/healthier companion that the "damaged goods" found at a shelter. I have been around animals my entire life, both purebreds and rescues, and I have never recieved more love from anyone than from an adopted animal. There is a bond formed the moment you save a life that is unbelievable. As I type this, Ashley is on my lap, purring her heart out. Before I got her (from a high-kill shelter) she was beaten horribly, neglected, starved, and over-bred. The first time I saw her, she was huddled in the back of a cold metal cage, shaking with fear. I will never forget the look of absolute relief on her face when she curled up on my bed that first night, after eating a big meal. As for intelligence? Ashley once warned me of an oncoming seizure.

Gaylord came to me not from a shelter, but certainly with no pedigree. Straight from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Many of his siblings weren't as lucky, not to mention his owners. I hope his owners are smiling down from heaven, knowing that the animals they left behind were adopted by good people, even though they were homeless and ownerless "mutts". Gaylord is the clown of the house.....he likes to wear clothes, and open doors. He once managed to lock me out while I was watering plants on my porch :) He is into everything, and is ALWAYS talking. And when I am sick, throwing up from my medication, he is always right by my side in the bathroom, trying to help.

Then, there is Howie, my 13 year old dog. He is a mutt in every sense of the word......a real heinz 57. I only got him 2 years ago. Howie ertainly didn't come with any pedigree papers, he came with alot of baggage instead. Cataracts, arthritis, tumors, grey hair, a heart murmur, not to mention he was 11 years old. But when I saw him, I knew it was right. We took him home, safe from the shelter that was ready to kill him, and he has been re-paying us ever since. He is a model canine citizen. Perfectly trained, gets along with every other animal or human, has the patience of a saint, and has taken it upon himself to be my guardian angel. He does not let me get more than 10 feet from without him coming to check on me, to make sure I am OK.

Those are my current animals, but I could go on and on. My mom's cat, Prince was considered unadoptable, but all he needed was a little love. There was Phoebe and Nutmeg, Tiger, Pumpkin, Killer, Raider, Lucy.........and they all came from awful backgrounds, from shelters, with no fancy papers. And If anyone has ever gone into a shelter and saved a life, they will know what I am talking about, when I say that the look of relief, hope, contentment and joy on that animals face is priceless.........and you can't put a price on it.

Didn't mean to get on a soapbox...but that's my 2 cents :)
 
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