Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How-To Prepare To Get A Cat

In April of 2013 my hubby wanted to get me a cat. He knew how much I loved animals, and at the time we were in an apartment that only allowed cats. I have had many cats before, but never an indoor cat. The process of picking out a cat was really simple for us. At the time we lived in a town which had a Pet Smart store. On Saturdays they would have pets in from a local animal shelter who were ready for adoption. We ended up picking a cat (Emerald) and were able to get her a few days later after paperwork was filled out.

If you've never had an indoor cat, this post is for you. If you have had or do have an indoor cat, please feel free to share comments on things you do to care for your cat and what things you like most (types of litter, toys, etc.).

Things You Will Need or Want
Litter box & fresh litter
Poop scooper
5 gallon bucket with lid
Dry cat food and/or wet cat food
Water & food bowls
Cat toys

The Breakdown
Litter box. Obviously if you’re going to have an indoor cat you will need somewhere for them to use the bathroom. You can purchase a traditional litter box, or you can shop the storage containers isle and find a container with higher sides. If you’re getting a small kitten the larger sides will cause a problem for them until they've grown big enough to get in and out of a larger box. There are LOTS of options in the litter box department. If you’re adopting a cat who has been under the care of a foster mom, ask what kind of litter box they use and perhaps get the same thing or something similar.

(The cat we adopted was almost full grown and was completely able to handle the large container we chose to use as her litter box. Part of that decision came from the fact that her foster mom had used a container with large sides so she was used to using that as her litter box. When we got Demi, or small grey cat, I had to use a small container for his litter box until he grew big enough to jump in and out of the large container).

Fresh Litter. Used litter is going to stink. Period. But that doesn't mean you don’t have to settle for something that doesn't help get rid of that smell. I must say that choosing a good litter was really hard for us. We went through four different types of litter before we found one that really kept the smell down, was easy to clean, and helped our cats paws not stink like poo. We are currently using Tidy Cats for Multiple Cats: 24/7 Performance (the red lid) and have been using it for more than 6 months. It is a clumping litter which really helps with the clean-up process.

Poop Scooper. This is highly important!! I just bought a large plastic scooper. If they came in something less flexible (like a metal scooper) I would totally prefer that since some of the stuff can be heavy when cleaning out the box.

Your cat’s litter box will need to be scooped every other day at the very least if you’re unable to scoop it every day. Scooping litter regularly really helps keep the smell down. At least once a month you will need to get rid of ALL the litter in the box and pour in fresh litter. This will greatly help with keeping the smell down.

5 gallon bucket with lid. Cat food comes in both large and small bags, but the larger bag is generally a better amount for your money. We have two cats and go through about __ oz. of cat food in 2 or 3 months. In order to help keep the food from becoming stale I like to store it in a 5 gallon bucket close to where the cats are fed every day. You can find 5 gallon buckets at Walmart in the hardware section, or if your Walmart has the ingredients for making your own laundry soap in one place they usually have the large 5 gallon bucket and lids there as well. I think this costs around $3-$4 for the bucket and lid.

Cat Food. As mentioned just above, sometimes buying a larger bag of cat food is the better choice when considering the amount you get for your money. I usually feed each cat about 1 cup of dry cat food per day, occasionally it’s more but they seem to do fine on this amount.

Wet cat food can be quite a bit more expensive. We were given a case of wet cat food when we got Emerald. Apparently she really liked it…but every time I've fixed it for her it will sit there most of the day before she touches it. I eventually stopped fixing it for her since she wouldn't eat it all and it was going to waste. The wet cat food came in handy when we rescued Demi (who was around 6 weeks old). He was unable to eat dry cat food for about a week and a half when we got him so it came in handy at that point. (I still kept a small bowl of dry food with him so he would be able to eat that if he wanted to. Eventually he started eating dry food and we stopped feeding him wet food altogether.)

Water & food bowls. We bought the small metal cat bowls from Walmart. I think they were a dollar each. If I could go back and do it again I wouldn't buy metal bowls for the cat’s water. They don’t seem to like drinking out of the metal bowls and we found them drinking from the toilet more than their bowls (so obviously we changed to a plastic water bowl and now keep the toilet lids down). The metal bowl works great for dry cat food though!

Hairbrush. We got a brush for Emerald with both the soft bristles and the metal ones. She is a shedder and I thought having a brush would help her not shed so much, but it really doesn't. In fact we pretty much never use the brush on her. I still have it and on occasion, when she’s having a really bad shedding day, I will brush her fur with it which helps temporarily. Both of our cats are short haired so their fur does not get matted or tangled and they do a good job at keeping themselves clean so a brush really isn't necessary for either one of them. If you have a long haired cat (which I've had in the past) their fur can get mats in it so brushing them regularly really decreases that problem.

Cat toys. We have had quite the adventure in the cat toy department. It’s been almost as crazy as trying to find a good litter. One toy that has just been marvelous are the original toys we bought when we got Emerald (and bought again not long after we got Demi since the original mice were old and ‘dying’ aka falling apart due to so much play). The Skitter Critters Catnip Mice are wonderful! I actually wrote a whole post on them if you would like more info. They can be purchased at Walmart for around $3.

Something we bought not long after we got Emerald was a red laser light. She goes nuts over it, and will come running any time it jingles when it’s picked up. Demi could care less about the laser when he was really little, but since he’s gotten bigger he loves it almost as much Emerald does. This was a great toy investment and something I’d really recommend. Our cats love chasing the laser across the floor, on furniture, and occasionally on the wall (Demi will play with the laser if it’s on the wall, Emerald wont). You can find one of these in the checkout section at Walmart for about $3.

At one point we purchased a Cardboard Claw Scratcher and it was a complete fail which you can read about here. Of course we bought it for Emerald in hopes that she would use that to sharpen her claws vs. our furniture, but she pretty much just looked at it and went on. I think if we had kept it (had we known we were getting another cat) that Demi might have used it when he was little and would probably still use it. I don’t think he would use it now though since he has already picked up on Emerald’s bad habit of using the couch to sharpen his claws (we do discourage them from doing this, but occasionally they are sneaky and get to the couch before we can get to them). The Claw Scratcher was about $5 at Walmart.

The final ‘toy’ item we purchased was this multi-purpose toy. It has a scratching post (which Demi will use, but Emerald wont), two jingly balls hanging on strings on the two corner posts, and a place for the cat to climb inside and ‘hide’ from people or each other. I personally don’t think this is a really great toy or of great quality, but they do use it a few times a week (sometimes less, sometimes more) so we've kept it. This was about $20, and also from Walmart.

Summary of this Post
Well I think I got everything listed that we bought, used, didn't really use, liked, and didn't like. Hopefully this will help someone who is thinking about getting an indoor cat. Indoor cats can be fun, but they can also be highly annoying. Cats in general don’t listen very well, and are quite lazy (napping most of the day and awake most of the night). The big things are being consistent with what they’re not allowed to do (our cats aren't allowed on the kitchen counters or table, and they’re not supposed to scratch their claws on the furniture), keep their litter box scooped at least every other day, and show them lots of affection. I've tagged the posts where I’ve shared things about our cats under the label CATS so if you want to read more or see more about our cats click there and read on!
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1 comment:

  1. This makes me want a cat all the more!! Well, I did have one, but he decided it was time to stop using the litter box and use my rug instead! It was not a pretty mess- EVERYDAY!! Eventually we just allowed him to roam outside some, then he decided to stay out there...I pretty much figured out why he was doing this...he came from a family that had TONS of other cats, we only had him. He wanted to be outdoors with all the other barn cats we had!! Poor fella....


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