1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

How to Make Your Cat a Lifetime Family Member

Instead of "Just a Pet"

By Gary Loewenthal

Adding a cat to your life is more like adopting a child than acquiring a possession. A cat is sentient; he's aware of himself and of you. He has fears and desires - not always the same ones as you, although he'll do a masterful job of getting you to eventually see things his way! A cat is a delightful enigma: a lone hunter who's also unabashedly affectionate. Give him a good home and a long life. Be charmed by his feline grace and by all means join in when he decides it's time for irrational exhuberance!

Make the Commitment

Before adopting your cat, resolve to make him a member of the family for his whole life. His health and well-being are in your hands. Take care of him as he goes through his ups and downs. He will return the favor.


  • Good food and water  It actually doesn't cost more to feed your cat premium cat food. There's less filler and your cat will be healthier. You and your cat will come up with a good rotation. It's vitally important to provide your cat with fresh, preferably filtered, water at all times.
  • Veterinary care  You need to be comfortable with your vet. Be an extension of your vet's eyes and ears by getting to know your cat's normal behavior and giving him regular mini health inspections. But don't play doctor - call your vet if you're at all suspicious or you notice a marked or acute change in your cat's routine.

  • Litter box  Squeaky clean, no excuses. No strong-smelling cleaners. Pleasant, quiet location. Approved by Mr. Cat.


You need to make a financial commitment, too. Plan on about 500 dollars a year per cat. Food, veterinary care, a litter box and litter, scratching posts, a cat carrier, and feeding bowls all cost money; don't skimp on these basic necessities. Be prepared for increased medical bills when kitty is older. Pet insurance may be a viable cost-saving option. You also want to buy nice things like cat furniture, toys, and treats to enrich his daily life.

Form a More Perfect Union

Know your cat. Spend time with your cat. Learn the meaning of his different meows. Observe his many non-verbal signals; that's primarily how your cat communicates. He uses his tail, ears, and eyes, and other body language to express himself. Watch for the shelter sheet on "How to Talk 'Cat'."

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.