Before you adopt a new kitty, be sure that you have a true understanding of what being a pet owner really means!  These animals are not toys. They have feelings and they are intuitive, social, thinking creatures that need just as much time and nurturing as people do. They will give you unconditional love and affection and may even save your life!  This is what happened to my friend John who's dog dragged him out of bed when their house was on fire.  Make your pet a valuable part of your family.  They are my children at the Kat House that's for sure!

Are you ready for a commitment to take care of your cat for its lifetime?  Then take the time to ask yourself these questions.

1. Adopting In Haste.

If you buy a blouse or shirt on sale and it doesn't fit or is the wrong color, you can return it. If you adopt a living animal with feelings, with the intention of it becoming a family member, its a different story. If you adopt a cat, it should be a commitment for the life of the cat, not until you get bored, want to move or you  feel tired of taking care of them.

2. Failure To Spay Or Neuter A New Pet. (it is the LAW in California for all pets)

There is a serious problem with cat overpopulation. Millions of cats are euthanized or abandoned because there are just not enough homes. By spaying or neutering, you can avoid health problems and keep BOTH male and female cats from spraying on furniture or bedding. Ugh!!

3. Not Getting Proper Veterinary Care.

Vaccinations head the list of preventative care and can be given every 3 years. Be observant of your cat's behavior and gently examine their entire body once a week, feeling for any unusual lumps or skin problems. Regular dental care can forestall tooth and gum problems.  Don't wait until it is too late for their yearly check up!

4. Buying Cheap Cat Food.

Buying cheap food is false economy and degrading to your pet. There are excellent foods available at specialty pet and major retailers such as PetSmart and Petco. Read the label and buy foods with the first ingredients listed as real meat made from human grade ingredients. Yes, they may cost a little more, but you will save in vet bills in the end. Dry food is VERY BAD for cats. Don't by low grade food - PERIOD!

5. De-clawing Without All The facts.

This is a major NO- NO in the animal world!  DO NOT DE-CLAW YOUR CAT! It is the equivalent of cutting off the first joint of your fingers. Ouch!! Studies have proven that cats that have been de-clawed have a higher incidence of litter box problems, neurosis and both reclusive and aggressive behaviors.  It is not acceptable and illegal in most countries!

6. Allowing A Cat To Roam Free Outdoors.

Keep your cat inside! A cat that stays indoors has a greater chance of living to a ripe old age. Cars, coyotes and other predators can kill cats that are allowed outdoors, especially at night. Unfortunately there are sadistic people who will deliberately abuse, poison or kill outdoor cats.

7. Neglecting Litter Box Maintenance.

Most cats prefer a clean box and clean litter. Some cats do not like scented litter. If there is a lapse in litter box use, have your cat checked out by your vet to rule out a urinary tract infection. Many times cats will act out relationship problems in the home by not using their box.  Clean box at least 2 times a day or more.

8. Not Allowing A Cat To Act Like A Cat.

Cats are not dogs! They have very unique ways of relating to humans and to their environment. Yes, they are more independent than dogs, yet they can be just as charming and affectionate as dogs. When you see them sharpening their claws on your furniture, remember that this is instinctive behavior, not something they do out of spite or stubbornness. Provide them a scratching post to redirect this behavior.

* Adapted from Charlene Boyd's Animal Communication Newsletter.