I want my own nyan experience
July 19, 2011 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Should I get a cat? Snowflake etc. inside.

My husband and I live in a relatively small apartment. I work part time and he stays home, and in the fall we'll both be going to school. I like animals, and I already own one guinea pig, who has been with me for almost two years now. I love to have pets and care for them; as a child I grew up with a dog, a parakeet and a myriad of hamsters all my own. I like to have animals that are responsive but not overly needy. Recently I went to Petco to get some toys for the guinea pig and I went to play with the cats they have up for adoption (as I do every time I visit Petco). I fell in love with a beautiful cat there. She is about a year old, spayed and litter trained, talkative and from I could tell very playful. I really want this cat, but I would like a more objective view of my situation before I get a furry child.
My concerns:
-I don't know how the cat is going to get along with the guinea pig, if at all.
-This is a cat that is old enough to be set in her ways. What if I don't like her personality? I can't exactly return her.
-I am already allergic to the guinea pig, although plentiful kitten sniffings suggest that I'm not allergic to cats. But I won't know until I live with one.
-Right now I'm home half of the day, but when I start school I won't be home much. Cats need time!
-I have actually never owned a cat, so I don't know what to expect (ie, how messy are cats, really? how much maintenance do they need?)
-my husband is not really on board with getting a cat, because his experience with animals is limited to two completely unresponsive dogs (you throw them a ball and they'll stare at it), sheep, and the guinea pig. As far as he's concerned, animals eat and poop. No playing. No emotional attachments. He would like for pets to do those things, but his experience suggests otherwise.

I want to make sure that any potential kitties I own are happy. Money isn't really a concern and I intend to have a vet fund on hand. I'm prepared to hear that it might not be the best idea to get a cat now, but I'd basically like to hear anything, negative or positive, that comes with owning a cat. Thanks!
posted by cobain_angel to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Cats are fine in small apartments.

Cats need attention, but don't need it full-time, and are fine being left alone for most of the day.

Even kittens have their personalities, in ways that can't be defined and set by a human. No, you really dont' know what her personality will be until you get her home. But lots of us adopt adult cats, and it does tend to work out. You'll get to meet her and get to know her.

Cats are pretty low-maintenance critters, and they're quite clean. Keep a clean litterbox, snuggle a bit, provide food, understand that your purpose in life is to keep the cat happy. That's all they ask.

In short: You're in a fine position to give a cat a home.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:12 PM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Tomorrowful is right.

1 thing tho - I'd estimate that 1/6 kitties are prone to pee in places you don't want them to. Cat pee is nearly impossible to remove. Make as attractive of a litter box as you can.
posted by k8t at 9:17 PM on July 19, 2011

Have you taken your husband to meet this cat? Given his reticence about pets and that he stays home, it's really important that he support the plan. In our case, my husband was reluctant to adopt Rupert but they are now inseparable. I hope your kitty dreams come true.
posted by carmicha at 9:17 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

You already have one pet and your husband doesn't want this cat, or like animals, or some combo of that.

If you expect the cat not to notice your husband's demeanor towards her - yeah, no. Expect the cat to act out, because that's what they do. Sorry.

It's 50/50 from my perspective. You would know better than us if this will really work.

Cats are easy in some ways... Until they aren't. I'm pretty sure there are more problem cat questions on AskMe than problem dog questions. There's a good reason for that, IMHO.
posted by jbenben at 9:20 PM on July 19, 2011

Has your husband been to PETCO yet to "meet" the cat? If not, that might be a good place to start.

I will add that I got a cat for the first time eight years ago in spite of some similar reservations (fear that I wasn't home often enough, for instance). I now think that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. That said, I have neither a husband nor a guinea pig to worry about, so YMMV.
posted by chicainthecity at 9:25 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Cats are wonderful and utterly individual, each with it's own personality. They are also loving and cuddly and playful pets IF an owner engages. For example, if you are thoughtful enough to realize what great imaginations cats have, you'll figure out that slowly dragging a toy around a corner out of sight will make your cat wild with excitement as it dreams up all that could be going on, switching its tail, and finally wriggling its butt before the great chase and pounce. This kind of game can be repeated endlessly . . . e.g. the moving, then stopping feet under the blanket.

It is pretty clear to me you've already bonded with the kitty you met. Don't worry, this bond will last. (And beware of not adopting a cat you fell for. I have thought for many years of a wonderful cat named Sebastian that I foolishly didn't adopt.)

Be affectionate to your cat (petting in the way your cat shows you it enjoys), strictly use positive reinforcement to train, and you'll be a wonderful cat owner. Your husband will likely end up similarly wrapped around your cats paw.

Pictures after adoption, please.
posted by bearwife at 9:28 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

One thing to think about is where you'll put the litter box in your small apartment. Lisa Pierson has a good page on litter box advice; her philosophy is to use a large, uncovered box with deep unscented clumping litter, and scoop it very often (once a day or more frequently). I can vouch that this method with twice-daily scoopings keeps the box odor-free. So you'd need to give up floor space, eg in the bathroom, for the box.

Getting a slightly older cat (ie not a kitten) is probably good - you avoid the chewing-on-everything needs-tons-of-attention kitten phase, but you still get a playful young cat.

You'll want to do a bit of reading up on how to introduce a cat to a new home, and things like what plants are toxic to cats, dangerous household things (eg loose string), etc. I don't know how cats interact with guinea pigs, but I definitely wouldn't allow them any unsupervised interaction.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:30 PM on July 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Husband was with me when we met the aforementioned cat (who goes by Mattie) and he actually really, really liked her. Mattie looks almost exactly like my cousin's cat Callie, who(m?) my husband has also met. Husband liked Callie because she was curious, clean, playful and cuddly. Also because of the lack of hairballs. Husband really, really hates hairballs. Callie is the "ideal pet" for my husband.
posted by cobain_angel at 9:35 PM on July 19, 2011

Woops, wrong link. Mattie!
posted by cobain_angel at 9:37 PM on July 19, 2011

If the cat seems friendly and happy in a pet store cage, it's a pretty good indication she's well socialized and will take to a normal home life just fine.

One thing nobody's asked yet: despite the small apartment, is it possible for you to close your bedroom door if it turns out she makes it difficult for you to sleep? Ideally you should be able to put two doors between sleeping self and cat (so you don't hear any scratching either) but that's a lot to ask of a small place.

Do not trust any cat around a rodent pet. There may be exceptions but there's a reason "the lion lying down with the lamb" is an unreachable ideal. Rodents are a cat's natural prey. It doesn't mean the cat is bad. The happiest, friendliest cat I ever had was a single-minded killer of pigeons and mice.
posted by zadcat at 9:47 PM on July 19, 2011

Mattie's beautiful! Like everybody said, as long as your DH can have a positive attitude about building a relationship with Mattie, it will all be fine. You'll have a learning curve at the beginning, but you and she will learn.

You should also know that most rescues (at least in my area) will allow you to return the cat to its current foster situation if things don't go well. That's not ideal of course, but don't worry that you'd be stuck with her.
posted by bluesky78987 at 9:55 PM on July 19, 2011

If your husband isn't into it, it is inadvisable. Loud cat, small apartment, crabby husband is a bad combo. Even if you think he's wrong to feel the way he does it's important to respect his wishes.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:58 PM on July 19, 2011

My cat's name is Matty! This alone will guarantee a lifetime of happiness with the furface, if my experience is anything to go by.
posted by sweetkid at 10:02 PM on July 19, 2011

You are overthinking all of this except the part about your husband. That's the real issue.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:19 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you can get your husband on board, the get the cat. If not... keep working on your husband. This is the primary issue at hand here.

You sound like you'd make a good kitty owner. The small apartment, being at work... those arent issues. If hubby can get on board, ask the rescue organization handling the adoptions at the Petco if it would be possible to give kitty a trial run where you take her home for a week or so to see if it would work out. This is not an unusual request; people with other animals are very (rightfully) concerned about whether or not the new and old pets can co-exist peacefully, and you simply cannot know this without giving it a go first.
posted by cgg at 10:25 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

My husband never let's me forget he didn't want our two adorable kittehs.

Even though he plays hide and seek with them and has learned to whistle just right to get them to come to him (then gets mad when they come to me instead)...and I clean up and feed them 90% of the time...

So tread carefully. If he's cool with it then GO GET YOUR KITTY!!! :-)
posted by guster4lovers at 10:41 PM on July 19, 2011

FYI, if you get two cats, normal upkeep costs don't scale to 2x(1-kitty-cost) and the cats will keep each other occupied and exercised.

The most important key here is getting your husband on board, but the right cat can really enhance your life. You sound like you'll make a great cat owner, and it always breaks my heart to see the sad cats in cages.
posted by bookdragoness at 4:17 AM on July 20, 2011

My husband was not a cat person at all. He got me a kitty for my birthday, and after a while, they became best friends.

I'm not saying this will happen to you, but people tend to think cats aren't as awesome as they really are. I've heard (and lived!) guster4lover's story a million times. It's very, very unusual that somebody who lives with cats never changes their mind. I've never heard it happen, at least.

For the bad part, cats are most of the time unresponsive, unless it's convenient. They will do a tap dance for you if you have treats, and they won't even fart your way if you have nothing to offer. although I've heard you can train them to do cool stuff, but they could possibly lose kitty cred in the eyes of the cat community for doing silly tricks.


cats are way less maintenance than dogs, or guinea pigs for that matter. I have lived with cats all of my life, and it's likely you will have one or two pee accidents at the beginning, but that's it. Just make sure they have clean water, food and a clean toilet. Cats usually find ways to entertain themselves, and I gather she will be just happy to not be at the store. Cat toys are usually just a few bucks, if you want to buy any. putting a bird feeder by a window will also entartain her.
posted by Tarumba at 4:52 AM on July 20, 2011

Are there birds and other wildlife outside your windows? This is like TV for kitties and they can enjoy it for hours. They also thrive in routine. Mine wakes me every morning for our "quality time" of brushing, rubbing, and sweet words.

I can't imagine how it would be if my husband didn't adore our fur baby as much as I. Your baby will need rough-and-tumble play time, too. It's possible that your guy might change his mind once he "holds the baby." Unless you think this is likely it might be best to wait, at least until after your first semester.
posted by R2WeTwo at 4:54 AM on July 20, 2011

I think your husband will learn to deal with the occasional hair ball (mine was two months ago, I think). I say go for it if he already likes her. He will learn to deal with the fact that she's a living being that poops and pukes, besides being cute.

BTW Mattie is just beautiful and I will take her home if you don't.
posted by Tarumba at 5:01 AM on July 20, 2011

I'd really make strenuous efforts to keep the guinea pig and cat apart. Even nice cats can have strong hunting instincts. When I was a child, my parents' cat killed my rabbit - we had an enclosure for the rabbits but one of them escaped.

My husband didn't really get the point of cats (he wasn't anti-cat but had never been exposed to them) but now that we have one, he thinks they're great. Other than that - what everyone else said. Cats can be fairly self-sufficient, and don't need a lot of maintenance, but this one would probably get to know and love your husband, if he's at home as you say.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:11 AM on July 20, 2011

I've had cats while owning pet rats, mice, lizards and a rat terrier while owning guinea pigs the best thing you can do is have a strong cage and keep them out of sight as much as possible in very strong cages that are locked (cats can open cage doors that just lift up). I kept mine on a base with no ledges around for the cats/dog to sit on and tried to keep them out of line of sight as it seems to be the movement that triggers the hunting instinct. I also made sure that at night or when I went out the more edible pets were separated from ones that wanted to eat them by shutting them in separate rooms.

Allergies can make your life miserable, chances are if you are allergic to the guinea pig you will e allergic to the cat. Have you had it out an hugged it, rubbed your face into its coat, making sure of course you aren't on anti allergy medicine when you do or visit a rescue groups cat room and just hang out. Because cat hair gets everywhere, on your clothes your pillows/blankets and a lot of animals get taken back to shelters because someone in the house is allergic. I can't have cats anymore because my husband is allergic to them (luckily I was catless when I met him), but he manages the rodents even though allergic to them too because they are smaller and contained.

Otherwise as to your other concerns a cat sounds like the ideal pet for you and your husband I think will get the interaction he wants from a cat. You might have to spend some time finding the games they want to play as each cat likes different games, good news is I once had an oriental cat that liked to play fetch when my dog didn't, so your husband might even get his game of fetch.
posted by wwax at 7:07 AM on July 20, 2011

Yes, get the cat. Cats are terrific, just the right amount of fun per unit of needed care.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 7:47 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you let your guinea pig out at all? I would not expect a cat to have self-control around a rodent that's walking freely around your apartment. That's my only real concern here: I had cats and hamsters in the same house as kid, but the cage was high up, and if the hamster ever got loose from the exercise ball it was a high stress situation. Cats are meant to hunt, and birds and mice are their prey. Ideally, I'd want to have the guinea pig not only in a cage when you and your husband are both out, but to also have that cage behind a closed door. Cats can deal with a lot of solitude, but they will fill their time with hunting if given an uninterrupted opportunity.
posted by Kurichina at 7:51 AM on July 20, 2011

I say go for it! I never thought I was a cat person until some years ago my mother got a cat and I found myself (surprisingly) really bonding with it and wanting one of my own. Now I have owned two, a stray that eventually ran away and my current sweetie pie, Ginger, that I got from the animal shelter. Ginger is just the best thing since sliced bread. She was about 9 months or so when I got her.

I think you need to really think about what kind of cat you want. Is being playful more important, or is snuggly what you want?

I wanted a lap cat - a cat that wasn't aloof and wanted to be petted and be in my lap. There was a room at the animal shelter that I sat in while they brought me one cat at a time. I payed close attention to their temperament when I met each one. Most were not at all interested in me, but rather exploring the room.

But then I met Ginger. She could have cared less about the room - she wanted to be near me! She nudged my hands when I stopped petting her. She wanted to curl up in my arms. I knew she was the right one. My gut was telling me. So my advice is to visit the cat several times before making the decision. Spend as much time with her as you can. Does her temperament seem like the right fit? As for me, I wasn't wrong in my decision. I've had her for about five months and she is the cuddliest little thing ever. She loves curling up with me.

I live alone and am gone during the day for work. She doesn't mind. She sleeps all day. Usually at night we'll have a play session of about 15 - 20 minutes with her different toys. And of course she greets me when I come home by lying down immediately on her back begging me to bend down and pet her. She follows me around the house and wants to be near me whatever I'm doing. (Seriously, she even perches herself on the bathroom counter when I'm doing my business. It's hilarious.)

Cats are easy peasy. She was immediately, instinctively litter box trained. I feed her every day, scoop her litter box, and once a week change the litter entirely. I brush her when I remember to, and clip her nails myself every few weeks. Other than that? Zilch maintenance.

TL;DR: Visit the cat several times, make sure you like her temperament. Cats don't need much attention, don't worry about being gone during the day. Your husband may think he doesn't like cats but may very well turn into a cat person. Cats are easy, easy maintenance compared to dogs.
posted by Falwless at 7:52 AM on July 20, 2011

At this rate I'm thinking the guinea pig might be more high maintenance than the cat! Twinkie (the guinea pig) lives in a cage that's about 8 square feet. Cage sits in the living room. The cage used to be uncovered but I bought a metal cover that goes over it. Twinkie goes out to play at least once every week, but he stays in the living room at all times.
Husband was convinced by this thread and is now actually kind of excited about the cat, and suggested we move to a bigger place to accommodate the cat when our lease is up in August. So, I'm really excited! I just hope no one adopts Mattie while we're getting ready to welcome her in!
posted by cobain_angel at 12:42 PM on July 20, 2011

Go down and put a deposit on Mattie!

Tell them you'll pick her up in a week or so.

Happy cat owning.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:05 PM on July 20, 2011

YAY!! Please, more pix of Mattie when she is out of that cage in your home. I second the warnings to be careful to move Mattie elsewhere when guinea pig is out, and to keep guinea pig out of Mattie's range. Other than that, sounds like full steam ahead.

FYI for you and your husband, cats don't think of territory quite as we people do. Cats are very into height rather than wide open spaces -- that is to say, far more important to be able to occupy the highest perches than to have a big house to move around in.

Do engage with your kitty. Social kitties have social owners.

So happy for you that you and your husband are adopting this beautiful cat.
posted by bearwife at 4:39 PM on July 20, 2011

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