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?
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.