Regarding Cats as Pets…

What animals make the best/worst pets?

I know you think I’m going to say cats make the best pets, but I’m not so sure about that. A pet is defined as, “a domesticated animal kept for companionship or amusement,” so if anything, humans are a cat’s pet.

Yeah, I said it.

I know. Many of you adopted your cat, or GASP!!! bought it. The cats in your life are there because you chose them, so I could see how you might think they are yours and there for your pleasure. And in some cases that may be true. I mean, if you have a “pure breed” cat, what you have is an inbred creature that’s probably dumber than a box of rocks. Your expensive, gorgeous whatever it is needs you to feed it, because if it had to catch and kill dinner it’d likely starve to death.

Every cat currently in my life was, at some point, feral. They each came to me. To the “real world,” that makes me a crazy cat lady, or perhaps a witch. To my way of thinking, they chose to share their lives with me despite my deficiencies, which is love. It’s certainly a lot more than what the humans I know do.

I have not always been capable of reciprocating that love. I have made lots of mistakes, so don’t think me some sort of depository of feline wisdom. Far from it. I learn as I go.

When Be’Be’ came to me, I was coming to terms with the truth about my past and how it continues to impact me today. As memories of my childhood surfaced, she brought me her kittens and showed me how a loving parent provides a combination of comfort and stern discipline. I watched her nurse and bathe her kids, play with them, smack them when they overstepped her boundaries, and wait until they’d all eaten their fill before she ate.

Rudy, her brother, taught me that children should be cared for by a community. The community I grew up didn’t intervene on my behalf, but Rudy never let me get too close to those kittens when they were young. If he thought I was out of line, like once when I picked up Miss Biddy to bring her inside and she yowled at me, he’d swat my legs. He now lives inside, totally his choice, and he provides me the same protection he does the other cats in his clowder.

Chuckles taught me it’s ok to trust, but take your time to make sure they’re worth trusting. He wouldn’t let me near him for the longest time, but he kept coming by to eat, then he started hanging around much of the time, and eventually he let me pet him. He also trusts my petsitter and her daughter, but if most any other person came into my home, they’d never know he was here.

Cats have taught me how to let go. I used to see Be’Be’ at my door every day, but I’ve seen her only once in the past week. I hope she’s found another human to take up with. I saw her and Mavis a block over awhile back, so I’m not the only game in town (though so far I’m the only one that TNRs). We may have a cat killer in the neighborhood, because last fall I saw kittens playing in the yard of a neighbor on several occasions, but then they disappeared. I’m surprised the cats I care for haven’t disappeared too.

If your motivation for wanting a pet is all about what’s in it for you, a cat may not be what you’re looking for. A cat is more than just a cute, furry face; they have needs that you’ll be expected to meet.

Cats have to eat, and they are notoriously picky eaters. They are also quite good at manipulating humans, so you may find yourself spending a lot of money on different kinds of food. If Miss Biddy had her way, she’d only eat cat treats. Graybie’d prefer bread and cheese. Neither is bad in and of itself in moderation, but cats have specific nutritional needs that cat food meets. Sure, some people make their cats’ food. You should read some of their online content. I landed in the middle of one thread discussing the best bone grinder to use, because apparently cats need something that’s in bones, but obviously if the bones aren’t ground, they can harm the cat’s digestive system. I don’t even like to cook for myself, so I don’t see myself doing cat meal prep anytime soon.

Cats need a litterbox. You should, in theory, have one litterbox for each cat in the home plus one extra. Many cats are unceremoniously dumped outside or surrendered to shelters because of litterbox issues. Cats are clean animals and they need their litterbox scooped at least once daily (maybe more, depending on how picky your cat is and how many cats live in the home) and cleaned and replaced with fresh litter every couple of weeks. If your cat is not using the litterbox, first ask yourself if they like the litter you’re providing. That litter with all the perfumy smell might appeal to you, but not to a cat. Cats are territorial, so if you have more than one cat, one cat may try to limit access to the litterbox to the others. Or your cat could be sick and a vet visit is in order. Since they can’t tell us what’s wrong, we have to pay attention to what’s happening.

Cats need stimulation, so toys and play time with you. If your cat is tearing the place up, ramp up the play time. Play time also encourages cats in multi-cat households to get along.

Cats need regular vet care. They’ll need vaccinations, flea/tick treatments, and wellness care. There are the unexpected emergencies that always seem to happen after hours and require a visit to an emergency vet clinic. You can get vaccinations at a community clinic like what Tractor Supply has around here, but you also need to have a regular vet that you trust. As your cat ages, they may develop conditions that will require more of your time and money. One of my cats has diabetes. Another has irritable bowel syndrome. Several have arthritis and don’t jump like they used to. So there are supplements, medications, and regular vet visits. Sure, you can get health insurance for your pet, but it’s not cheap. And there are no tax breaks for pet owners.

If you want a pet to show off online, know that some cats are more accommodating than others. I get some good content to post, but I delete at least ten times as many photos as I post. Some cats are more photogenic than others, which is one of the reasons I think people don’t feel black cats make good pets, but thanks to technological advances, you can create great photos for black cats too.

So if you want to believe you have a pet when in reality you are the pet, sharing your life with a cat may be for you. But why stop at one?

As an aside, did you notice this is one of my longer blog posts? There are few things I’d talk about all day, but cats are definitely one of them.


64 thoughts on “Regarding Cats as Pets…

  1. While we often feel that domestic animals need us, we almost always learn that we needed them too. My last dog made me understand how extraordinary dogs and all animals are. He kept me sane through some difficult periods during the 14 years he was with me, and I always loved the sound of him breathing at night, when he was sleeping. That remains one of the most soothing sounds I’ve ever heard!

    Then again, Jen, people like us may learn from animals because of our own innate sensibilities. We can understand things without always having to use words.

    1. That is true. By all rights, Rumpy the Malamute should have never chosen to stay with me, but he did, because he knew I needed his love and his protection. I mean, honestly, a Malamute isn’t exactly a vicious animal (though insurance companies seem to think they are), but people feared him. I needed to feel safe, and he willingly gave that to me.

  2. I love cats! I have 13. 4 are feral and won’t let me near them, but they seem happy. I hope someday they will warm up to me.

    1. My philosophy is any feral or former feral cat that’s with you is there because they wanna be. Maybe they never will warm up the way you’d like, but I have no doubt they love you.

  3. We have a cat, the daughter of a pregnant young stray who chose my daughter’s best friend. Her mom was about 6 months old when she and her brother were born. We got her because we live in the country and had occasional mice. We’re dog people, so we treated her like a dog: we crated her for the first couple days, ’til we got her to our vet for her shots and a checkup. Our vet is great, and knows us. She asked a lot of questions and gently corrected our mistaken ideas.

    She is now 7 years old. She is not your typical cat. She was raised with two dogs, and I’m convinced she is more dog than cat lol. Put her food down, she eats til the bowl is empty, then walks away. She doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night to feed her. She couldn’t wake my spouse if she tried LOL. BUT, the instant I wake, she knows. How, I don’t know, but she does. Then she starts meowing for her brekky and doesn’t stop ’til it’s put down in front of her. Most of the typical things you see cartoons about on the ‘net regarding cat behaviour, she doesn’t do. She would never accept any sort of treat, either cat or human food. You could never pet her or pick her up. She didn’t ‘hang out with us. Til I tried giving her a Creamy. WELL, let me tell you, she is now a different cat. She comes to me regularly for scritches, if I go into the kitchen around 7pm (Creamy time) she’ll come running. Generally, if you call her name, she’ll appear. She spends more time lounging in the LR with us. She’s still not much of a cuddler, but she’s a lot more social.

    She loves her dog brothers and tolerates their occasional sniffing of her. I swear she LIKES it when one of them takes off after her all of a sudden.

    But, I am fully aware that we are her staff, she is not our ‘pet’. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Will we get another cat when she is no longer with us? Not sure. She is such a personality, such a ‘non-cat’ cat. We’re not sure we could deal with a ‘typical’ cat.

    1. I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical cat. Miss Biddy, who would prefer to eat treats, is a spayed female who marks territory like a male cat and used to walk with me and Molly the dog when Molly was alive. Molly had dementia and Biddy helped keep Molly on the move when she’d stop and stare into space wondering where she was. Once a neighbor dog broke leash and ran up to us barking. He’s generally harmless but Molly was quite upset, so Biddy attacked the dog.

  4. What a lovely blogpost! First, I must say that I love all animals, but cats are definitely my favorite animals. The one reason I love them so much is their fierce independence.
    I love dogs, but dogs are hard-wired to please us and they’ll come to us most of the time without thinking about it. Many times I ask myself, “Is the dog coming to me because she really wants to or simply because I’m calling her to? Cats on the other hand, usually only come because they truly want to; of their own accord. When my cat comes to me it makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside because she is deciding on her own to come to me.
    That’s not to say that there aren’t times when I will call her out of necessity at times. When those times happen, she still decides whether she wants to come to me or not. Sometimes she will. Other times, she’ll meet me halfway, look at me and walk away. That’s sufficient for me because many times I’m calling her to distract her from doing certain things.
    Luna is a 3 1/2-year-old tabby. She is the most unaffectionate cat I’ve ever had. Despite all that, I love her so very much.
    As you can guess, like you, I could go on and on and on about her!
    I had a black cat years ago. Her name was Queen Diva Mija (pronounced ‘meee hah) and she was my heart and soul. When I lost her I nearly died inside. I had her for 15 years. It took me a long time to get over her. I still refer to her as the love of my life. I even wrote a eulogy for her on Facebook. I also had her cremated and still have her ashes with me.
    With Luna, I take photos of her and create these comical stories about her and me and post them in numerous cat groups on Facebook. She is a star to a degree. People get such a kick from the funny scenarios I create from her photos.
    I must mention as an aside, that the one element cats need in their diet is called Taurine. It’s a protein in meat. If they don’t get it, they will go blind.
    Thank you for such a wonderful post! All of your cats look lovely!

  5. This is a lovely post Jen. I’m a dog person as you know, but I like cats too and can understand a lot of this. I always remember reading that dogs have owners and cats have staff! A friend had four, three female and one male….. he having pride of place in the bay window on a gold cushion, with tassels, and lived to be 22. His ladies also enjoyed long lives.

  6. Insightful post, Jen! Almost all of our cats were strays and ferals from streets and neighborhoods. And many were indeed, seeking us. Their behavior does spark insights. I’m weathering illness by watching them, every day, and learning so much.

  7. Another wonderful and insightful post, Jen. Thank you!

    All of our cats have been rescues, and every single one of them has taught us so much. We sure are lucky to have them in our lives.

  8. As humans, we often refer to ourselves as “cat owners” but I always say our cats are getting the last laugh, and jokes on us, because they actually own us 😅

  9. I love cats…. i had two wild cat babies, i rescued them and fostered’em but when they grew up i had to release them…. they were so happy when i released them, i was also very happy but deep down i was sad because i knew i would miss them!

  10. Cats can also provide emotional support and companionship to their owners. They are often affectionate animals that enjoy spending time with their humans, and their purring and cuddling can be very comforting.

    However, it’s important to note that cats are living beings with their own personalities and needs, and they require proper care and attention to thrive. It’s important to provide them with proper nutrition, regular veterinary care, and plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

    If you’re considering getting a cat as a pet, it’s important to do your research and make sure it’s the right choice for your lifestyle and living situation. You should also be prepared to commit to providing the care and attention your cat needs throughout its life.

  11. I have a cat named Mittens. She’s a curious little thing, always getting into trouble. But I wouldn’t have her any other way.

    One day, I was sitting in the living room reading a book when I heard a noise coming from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found Mittens standing on the counter, trying to reach the top of the fridge.

    “Mittens, what are you doing?” I asked.

    She just looked at me with those big, innocent eyes and meowed.

    “I know you’re curious,” I said, “but you can’t be up there.”

    I picked her up and put her down on the floor. She meowed again and rubbed against my legs.

    “I’ll get you something to eat,” I said.

    I went to the kitchen and opened the cupboard. Mittens followed me and jumped up on the counter. I gave her a bowl of food and she started to eat.

    As I watched her eat, I thought about how lucky I was to have her in my life. She was a constant source of joy and entertainment. I couldn’t imagine my life without her.

    Mittens finished her food and jumped down from the counter. She came over to me and rubbed against my legs again.

    “I love you, Mittens,” I said.

    She meowed and purred.

    I picked her up and gave her a big hug. She was the best cat in the world.

  12. One of my cousin’s and I rented a house together for a while, and would find new litters of kittens almost every year hidden away in the shed in the backyard. That first litter we ended up keeping two of the kittens and they definitely had their preferred human between the two of us, haha, so I always say my cat adopted me because she grew attached to me where the other cat grew attached to my cousin. 😄

  13. I feel like birds would make great companions too. They are also very small depending on which type you get and are easy to train if you know how to do it. You can teach them how to come to you when you call them so that they could live freely in your house

  14. What a great post, while I love my cats dearly, if you were to ask them I am sure they would tell you that they adopted me. In addition to my live ins, I also have had the privelidge of knowing many of the local street cats here. In Korea, many people feed the stray population and you can see cat food bowls left out for them in most neighborhoods. When we moved in a couple of our neighbors were feeding a group and we took over when the y eft. The group changes from time to time but theee are always a few mainstays. If I tried to make any of them house cats I know they would rebel. My Rudolph was part of the group but was abandoned when he was a kitten because he was sick and for a long time he only wanted to leave. Unfortunately, he was not healthy enough to let out. After awhile I think he realized this too and really has settled in to his indoor life. Regardless all of our fuury friends are unique and that is what I love most about them. Thank you so much for sharing your stories❤️!

  15. I have two Freddie and Morticia. My constant comment to them is I don’t speak cat. They are very loving, tolerant of me, and have just become a year old. They are brother and sister,

  16. I have just found your blog and this post was a delight. I have two cats, Jonesy and Pickle who I love with all my heart. It’s a huge pleasure to read anything about our feline friends (as long as it’s kind) Cats are the best. I am proud to be a crazy cat lady.

What would you like to add to the conversation? Bark at me in a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s