How Good A Cat Owner Are You?

What is wrong with the title to this post? If you can’t see anything wrong with it, you are not what I would consider to be in the top rank of cat caretakers. The answer is in the last sentence. The word “owner” means what it says: ownership of your cat companion, which is the law but the law is an ass when it comes to cats. “Caretaking” reflects the actions and behavior of the best cat guardians but what does it mean?

How good a cat owner are you?

Are you able to be honest and objective in self-assessment? If not, I’d stop. I wouldn’t bother trying to check if you’re a good cat caretaker or not.

Excellence in cat caretaking can sometimes come be affected by available funds. In fact it is a combination of funding+knowledge/understanding+commitment. Cat abandonments are often about money.

Budgeting at the beginning, before adopting a cat is probably the behavior of a good cat caretaker (to be); think $10k to £15k over the full life of a cat inclusive of pet insurance. The person who treats the adoption of a cat as she would having a baby  – with that level of concern and forethought – will probably be a very good cat caretaker. It requires honesty though. Cat shelters ask potential adopters questions. Do people ask themselves these questions before adopting a cat? It is wise to.

How much do you know about cat behavior? A good cat caretaker understands cat behavior and respects it. This means not treating a cat as a child. A cat is a cat is a cat, people need to understand that. If a person wants a child substitute she’s unsuitable.

Here is a question: when you believe that your cat is ill, do you wait and watch too long? Do you resist even slightly taking him/her to the vet? Taking a cat one suspects of being ill to the vet promptly can be vital and at least it is necessary. This begs the question whether a cat caretaker has the money to do a good job? There is not much point being very concerned if you can’t translate the concern into purchasing excellent cat food and taking your cat to the veterinarian in a timely manner. Available funds is a factor in how good a cat caretaker a person is.

What about available time? If you’re working in an office, 5 days a week you’ll be prevented from being the best of caretakers simply on the basis of available time, the more so if you are the only one living in the home unless you do things which make your cat’s home as pleasant as possible when you are at work. Cats like company, your company. The like interaction and stimulation.

What can you do? The best ideas come from Marc, a regular visitor. He has created an “enriched environment” (e.g. see the forest) for his cats and he can monitor to a certain extent their activities using Skype, the internet and judiciously placed computers in his home. There are also devices these days to feed your cat remotely, talk them and even watch them. These are not perfect and they cost money – ah, we are back to money again. It seems money plays quite an important part in keeping up cat caretaking standards. You have to have enough not to worry about spending it on your cat when have to.

Pet health insurance can be a good idea. Having pet health insurance is not a sign of a good cat caretaker, however but it does mean the cat caretaker takes their cat to the vet promptly (as long it is covered – watch out for the small print).

Good cat caretaking boils down to:

  • providing a cat-centric environment which is one in which a cat has the opportunity to express natural behavior which is a step from wild cat behavior. Play, climbing, observation, hiding, resting places are all behaviours that come to mind immediately.
  • providing a safe place to live in. This is about making the correct decisions on the indoor/outdoor debate.
  • providing excellent health care. This might mean changing vets if you have to. Not all vets are good. Some are better than others. The best cat guardians find the best veterinarians.
  • providing the best food. The best food should closely match wild cat prey. We can’t buy that sort of food or rarely can. I don’t do it but the best of the best cat food is a raw diet prepared and stored properly. You’ll probably that find your cat doesn’t like it because he is not used to it.

It is really is not that easy being an excellent cat caretaker. It requires commitment. 

When and if you move home, do you buy a place that suits you and your cat? That is a big question. Often you won’t have the money to make that kind of choice but money can facilitate the process of excellent cat care.

What sort of home is the ideal for a domestic cat? The ideal is probably a detached house with a fully enclosed garden that is cat secure. Such a place is not essential however and neither is a lot of money. 

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How Good A Cat Owner Are You? — 11 Comments

  1. I’ve never owned a cat in my life, but I’ve shared my home with many and been honoured to be one of their caretakers.
    Our home revolves around our present cats and although it isn’t ideal for us right now here, it is for them and that’s the main reason we stay. We will move when we find a place as cat friendly and safe and where they can enjoy some freedom, but that may not be until Babz can retire and we can get right away from this area altogether.

    • You do everything you can to make the most of what you have. I am going to move to the country some time in the not too distant future probably and I’m going to trying find a place which is ideal for me my cat and the person I live with. It will be the last place that I moved to.

  2. It’s a given that I don’t own any cat just like I really don’t own anything. Everything within my immediate reach are gifts on loan that must be relinquished some day.

    As a caretaker of cats, I do the very best I can. I can never reach perfect and, to strive for that, is wasteful of the present.

  3. If you’re looking for country living and could bear to leave your homeland with, among all its other attributes, the Bronte clan’s moors,you’d find real estate bargains beyond belief in this neck of the woods.

    The downside? You’d leave behind what Americans see as the staggering perks of democratic socialism. Your health care system is unheard of over here, though President Obama’s system is heading in that general direction (to the teeth-gnashing fury of the Republicans).

    But if you wanted to live in the country, coastal Washington may be as beautiful as any other area in the United States. Then again, there are few or no dramatic beaches: in Washington state they’re fogged in, dank and monotonous. The craggy sea-stacks begin 40 miles south, across the border into Oregon.

    The climate here is much like that of the U.K., although with less snow. The most we have is six inches, usually in January when the temp. can drop to 18 F. for a few days. But the rain is with us, even unto the very end. It averages eight feet per year, and twelve or more in the Olympic Rainforest. June has light rain, with part sun and rain in July, with August and September being the sunniest months of the year. Enough sun to grow fruits & veggies? Yes – even wine grapes (but not the dessert grapes that grow in Seattle). Okra? Melons? No, except in a plastic tent. Other than that, you can grow about anything that flourishes in western Washington.

    The windstorms thundering in from the ocean in November and December are zephyrs compared to a hurricane, but still enough to turn atheists into believers. In 2007, they came roaring in like a thousand freight trains, and gusted to 145 mph, downing massive trees, toppling power lines, shattering water pipes, leaving the denizens of these towns with no heat, electricity or water. Which is why everyone has generators, woodstoves, hand-crank radios & ‘Porta-Potties.’ Roads were obstructed by fallen trees, and the freeway to civilization drowned under three yards of water for ten-eleven days.

    The ocean beaches have world-class restaurants and Monte Carlo casinos owned by the Native Americans (though possibly run by the Mafia). Most of the tribes still live on their reservations along the coast in villages who knows how old, since the damp climate rots archaeological artifacts. But old they are. Some years ago, a hiker found a remnant of a woven ‘backpack’ at a high elevation in the Olympics, a mountain range that towers over the coastline. The Olympics are young at 50 million years old. The backpack was carbon-dated at several thousand years old. (How the fibers would have lasted that long is anyone’s guess). Moreover, archaeologists have found a few remnants of culture along the Columbia River, an hour’s drive south of here, dated 9,000 B.C.E. and older. The ethnic heritage of these people? Anthropologists are saying they’re not only part Oriental (Asiatic), but seemingly from areas in the Middle East and farther west. And then there are the adventuresome Polynesians with their ‘Kon Tiki’ seagoing vessels. Moreover, the northwest Indians have a tincture of Hawaiian heritage: some of the sailors on the ships that touched shore in the mid-to-late 18th century were Hawaiian.

    As for the prices of real estate, you’ll find bargains all over the place (though prices are rising). My little farmhouse would have easily cost $380,000+ in Puget Sound country. Nine years ago my property tax in Seattle was $2,700 annually. Down here it’s $13.00 a month. I bought the house in 2005 for $92,000, a piffling sum that wouldn’t have bought a chicken coop, much less a toolshed, in Seattle. I spent another $28,000 on some interior remodeling. End result? A socks-knocking jewel box of a house with floor to ceiling ceramic tile in the kitchen, built-ins all over the place (characteristic of 72-year-old houses), a spacious bedroom downstairs, two upstairs – one large, and one tiny – with views of the wooded hills and river; a living room that accommodates a great big grand piano, a woodstove and fireplace; a flagstone entry hall, a very nice remodeled bathroom and a sunroom. Granted the house is much too small for some people’s needs, it’s more than enough for one person with its 920 sq. ft., not counting a walk-in carpeted attic.

    But again, there are downsides. Employment in this area is borderline dead, and there’s a high incidence of property crime. I would never recommend this venue to a woman living alone unless she had secure fencing, 400 feet of a 20-foot high blackberry hedge, and padlocked gates.

    As for its cultural amenities? Some. Not many. You’d miss that aspect of life, as there’s an Al Capp ambience in some of these areas reminiscent of Appalachia. No Westminster Abbey, in a word. No afternoon teas with cucumber sandwiches. It’s equally true these towns had the highest per capita concentration of millionaires in the last decades of the 19th and first two decades of the 20th centuries. Why? Because of the lumber and fishing industries. But the tycoons who owned them pillaged everything they could lay hands on. Their gingerbread Victorian mansions, Italian Renaissance villas and Dutch Colonial country estates still dot the hillsides, though some of them are b & b’s nowadays.

    There’s plenty of country living, though, at bargain prices for anyone who could adjust to living here. But it should be borne in mind that nighttime satellite photos show strings of jewels up and down the west coast of the continent. Here, all you see is black velvet when the sun sinks into the sea.

    And if you have cats – elderly cats – forget about living in outposts of this magnitude. There are no James Herriots anywhere down here. The last few months of a cat’s life can cost you $4,000 – and adequate food, plus vet bills, will total FAR more than $15,000 throughout the life of your fur-child. Worse yet, you’ll drive a 110 mile roundtrip commute(possibly in the dead of night) past miles and miles of farmland and still more miles of primordial wilderness untouched from the days of the Ice Age, past sheer drop canyons and through a mountain pass to the nearest 24-7 emergency vet clinic. There are 18 clinics within a 15-mile commute of this coastal area, and none would think of being open on a weekend. Not to indulge in hyperbole, but keep this caveat in mind: keep this in mind for the sakes of your sanity,if you plan to move to the country and have aged cats that might need emergency care on a weekend, or in the middle of the night: chances are, there’ll be no one to help you, short of a long commute. You’re on your own.

    As for a safe enclosure for cats, in the country that can mean a climbing-raccoon-‘possum-proof fence. My own plot of land, before the fencing and hedges, was visited at night by cougars, deer, coyotes, a bobcat, foxes, an owl with a three-foot wing-span and…well, the list of marauders goes on.e. And at night you hear the shrieks of abandoned neighborhood cats snatched by cougars.

    But country living? If that’s what you want, you’d find heartrendingly beautiful wilderness here – scenes right out of National Velvet, Brigadoon and Uncle Remus (the damp from the ocean is congenial to misty-gray ‘Spanish’ moss that shrouds groves of trees silver-grey dead from saltwater tides flowing upriver). But living here is oppressive, too, in its vast silence and ancient isolation. In fact, it might finish a city-mouse!

    • Very appealing, Sylvia. But, Florida is paradise and has some country living areas also.
      But, realistically and if I wanted some serious country living here in the U.S., I would look around the midwest myself.

  4. Well i believe im a good Cat Owner. I always take them to the vet when needed. Esp, when their life depended on it i.e when Cassy got old and started having problems, Also when the cats developed Abscesses and other probs. Money was not issue as all our cats are worth it. I believe i give them a great life, even when i was on my own with just Cassy and Tammy they had both worlds of inside and Outside as well as a comfortable life.

    I am mostly around and they are only on their own for a short period of time at most. The place i live now is prob a better place than i have been in as has a lot of Garden is Very Quiet. They can stay inside where there’s lots of sun and have got cat beds.

    In winter It doesn’t get too cold just about -3 at most, unless it decides to snow. Only thing that worries me sometimes is the road but the cats seem to be afraid of the road. Also im able to keep an eye on them most of the time. I, do think its important when getting a cat/kitten that you think of the long term commitment not just when they are a kitten. Think its important to get them fixed as soon as possible when they are of age. I’ve never let them have their own kittens- as i just think its cruel, plus i really couldn’t cope with it, esp after having to find homes and seeing others struggle to look after them.

    I’ve become a stronger advocate for cats than i used to be. I try as much as possible to give them the best possible food as im able too. Not sure what else to say I’ve lived in a city when i had a cat, where it had a garden and a Quiet street. I guess things are a lot different here in New Zealand, than in other places so i guess its hard to compare. The main important thing, is that cats are happy, content feel loved and know there cat Mummies and Daddies look after them as best as they are able give them the best care and love possible. 🙂

  5. Hi Dee – Florida must be beautiful. But I’d dread the typhoons, hurricanes, twisters – whatever they are. Do not look forward to windstorms, and would think Florida is right in the path of every one. Have surely mentioned this before, but several Australian architects have designed modular homes that are, ostensibly, 100 percent wind-proof. Aren’t you alarmed when the funnels or storm clouds move inland? Aren’t you all but swept off the map a dozen times a year? What gets to be costly, even with our relatively mild winter storms, my handyman takes three hours to nail and glue down one shingle that blows off in the wind. And when you have three or four, the costs tend to mount, given the tempo of his handiwork.

    But yes…it would be heaven to live in a climate where you could have a citrus orchard. I have this two-foot, scraggly Meyer’s lemon ‘tree’ that blooms lavishly during the summer and even sets fruit, which drop off when it’s taken back in, in September.

    Florida, though, must be paradise on earth. But why would you want to live out on the prairies, if you had a mind to move? The temp. drops to 40 below, does it not? Perhaps you’d enjoy Colorado, etc.
    Thanks again for the great advice re the e-mail problem. I’ve not yet acted on it, however; am used to going up to the library twice a week, and – actually, the curtailment of e-mail means less time on the Internet, which appeals to me. Prefer in-person friendships, though I realize the digital world is essential to people involved in philanthropic or animal rights networks, etc.
    Take care! S.

    • Hi, Sylvia

      I thought about the midwest for someone looking for some country living. There’s still some farm lands there. It’s not for me though. Snow is pretty to look at, but freezing temperatures wouldn’t suit me at all. I don’t even own a coat.

      I like the tropical weather but there’s some caution that has to be taken, especially with kids and animals.

      We have a rare tornado here and no earthquakes at all.
      Our thing is hurricanes and they come in spurts. They can be damaging, for sure, espcially if a couple of small twisters are embedded within. I live more inland now than I used to, so I get less intensity than on the east coast. But, the good part is that we have plenty of notice when they’re coming and can do a lot of preparation to ensure the safety of our pets and ourselves. My biggest worry is the unsheltered cats that I care for. I’ve dodged a lot of flying branches and debris doing checks.

  6. Dasn’t write any more non-cat palaver on a cat website beyond a brief response, Dee. (And your name has got to be an amputated Deirdre.) (Speaking of names, two of the most beautiful I can think of is ‘Rielle’ – the name John
    Edward’s girlfriend gave herself – and the Swedish name ‘Bjorna.’)

    Be that as it may – what are you saying? No Trump Tycoons?? I’d always imagined Florida was a suicidal proposition, weather-wise – another Louisiana, or worse. Glad to hear it isn’t that bad!

    But there’s only one place I’d want to live again, if it were even remotely affordable: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Birds’ country: Bodega Bay, my childhood home. If you have a spare minute, pull up ‘ – Jerry Dodrill.’ He’s a fab photographer, though I was actually trying to find the name of an artist who painted Bodega Bay and its environs; he was on the Internet last year, but might have popped his clogs. His website has certainly disappeared. (I’ve trained Ruthie to say ‘howdy,’ and she’s introduced me to ‘clog-popping.’ As for the ‘howdy’ incongruity, can’t you envision her in a Stetson and chaps?)

    Anyhow, the coastline was so beautiful with its thundering surf and Yorkshire-like windswept green hills covered with poppies and lupines in spring. And the solitude….perfect silence but for a meadowlark warbling away (think Ralph Vaughan Williams’s ‘The Lark Ascends’), and the chattering wind in the groves of eucalyptus. The school I went to, when I was six, was the one you see in Hitchcock’s film ‘The Birds:’ it was built several years before the Civil War, and smelled of chalk dust and dry rot and smoke from the pot-bellied stove.

    And now – God have mercy – Bodega Bay and Freestone are last-gasp chi-chi: an aggregate of ‘artisan’ pastry, cheese, wine, and hand-dipped candle shops; ‘spas;’ galleries around every bend of the road; world-class restaurants; b & b’s, etc. AS if this weren’t enough, S.F’s plutocrats have built their mansions on the hillsides. Could fall down and weep.

    You have no earthquakes? S.F., my 2nd favorite city in the world, sits on the San Andreas fault. And right now, I live in a prime tsunami zone; the opposing ‘shelves’ are only a few miles offshore, and geologists are finding traces of ‘Noah’s flood’ watermarks at high elevations along the coast. Which explains the centuries-old Native American legends of a monster flood. Oh well…better than sitting in a nursing home, gumming jello and noodles for twenty years, no?

    I know how kind and caring you are of homeless cats,and feel for you – and also for them – in the windstorms, with flying branches. Do the poor souls survive? Perhaps they crawl under cars? So criminal of people to throw their animals out the door to fend for themselves. Sidney Vicious, whom I’m feeding F. F. twice a day, hunches outdoors in the cold and rain all winter long, while his ‘owner’ sits inside, feeding his face and basking in front of his fireplace. I wish there were an afterlife, so I could be there to light the charcoal briquettes. Do these people feel a twinge of guilt? Course not. It’s not part of their mentality. Never was.

    Over & out.

  7. Will check out Bodega Bay.
    You are a hoot, Sylvia. You and R are quite a pair.
    Seriously, though, Michael mentioned wanting to move to the country. I think the country is just ideal for cats.
    It’s just hard to find the right setting anymore. And, no to Deirdre. I was named in memory of a very beloved patient (hispanic) that my mother had cared for in her nursing days.

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