Dogs may be man’s best friend, but here in Canada it’s all about the cats. According to Canada’s Pet Wellness Report, nearly 40% of us are cat owners, with about 8 million pet cats across the country. According to an Ipsos Reid poll, about one-quarter were purchased or gifted from friends and relatives, while the rest came from shelters or were adopted strays. So how do we know if we’re ready for kitty? Should we adopt or shop? And, most crucially, how do we get these notoriously independent pets to love us as much as we love them? Here are some tips about adding a feline to your family.
Adopt or Shop?
Most Canadians meet their pet cats through friends and family. But for the rest of us, there are several options when it comes to finding cats. In several Canadian cities, including Toronto, it is against the law for pet stores to sell dogs or cats. Instead, many stores, like Petsmart, hold meet-and-greet adoption events, including National Adoption Weekend. These events are affiliated with local rescues and humane societies and provide an opportunity for people to find adoptable pets and save a life. Petfinder is another reliable choice when it comes to looking for specific characteristics, gender or even colour of cat. If you have your heart set on a purebred cat, The Canadian Cat Association is a registry of listings and breeders to help you find your perfect match.
Cat or Kitten?
Everyone loves a kitten, but babies can be hard work. Sometimes a more mature feline is exactly what the doctor ordered. Kittens will crack you up with their endless energy and hilarious antics, but despite their small size they can still get into big trouble. Their curious little minds will have them getting into everything. Also, that adorable itty bitty kitty may grow up to be a lot different than you imagined. With a young adult or older cat, what you see is what you get. These ladies and gents tend to be more mellow and, of course, are usually house-trained already. Because they are more relaxed, an older cat will enjoy lazing around and hanging out – preferably in your lap!
One or Two?
The only thing better than bringing home a new cat is bringing home two new cats! Cats may seem super independent, but they are social animals who don’t like to be left alone. Many rescues have bonded pairs and will not adopt out one without the other. Not only will they amuse each other when you’re not around, but breaking up a bonded pair can be detrimental to the cat as well as to you. A bored or lonely cat can get into heaps of trouble, and may find adapting to a new environment challenging.
When it comes to gear for your new feline friend, you won’t need much more than feeding bowls and litter boxes. However, just because you won’t need more stuff, doesn’t mean you won’t want more. Check out pet stores or online for a myriad of cat-friendly treats you didn’t even know you needed! Cats need to scratch, so curb the urge to shred with scratching posts. Cat toys keep idle minds and paws busy and even though cats can curl up just about anywhere, everyone loves a space, or bed, they can call their very own. Catnip, laser pointers and even a harness for those wishing to “walk” their cats outdoors can be purchased at local shops across Canada. The safest cat is an indoor cat, but even those who aren’t meant to leave the house may explore the great outdoors. A collar with id tags is always a good idea.
Cats need space and time to adjust to life in a new home. Providing safe hiding spaces can be safe havens for your new family member. Allow your kitty to explore one room at a time while you observe. Body language, such as dilated pupils, flattened ears or twitching tails means your cat is anxious or nervous. But when she starts rubbing up against you or head butting you, you know you’re in.
Falling in Love
More often than not, cats love the hand that feeds them. The quickest way to a cat’s heart is through their food bowls. Passing out treats –aka the bribing method– helps too. Unlike dogs, cats don’t go for too much exuberance or enthusiasm. Their affection must be earned. Stay close while still giving your cat some space and it won’t be long before your feline realizes you’re safe. The old saying goes “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen” and in terms of cats, it’s pretty close to the truth. Pretend like you couldn’t care less and watch him keep coming back for more.
Check out these articles on the benefits of owning a cat and some inspiration for naming your kitten: