Is he "the one"? (Cat edition.)
July 25, 2016 6:40 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend found a stray kitten in the parking garage of his building this weekend and we caught it and delivered it to the local shelter. But I can't stop thinking about this kitty. Should I go back and get this cat? Is this what "time to get a cat" feels like?

I've never had a cat before and don't really know much about cat care beyond "feed them and clean their litter box and give them something to scratch", but I'd entertained the idea of adopting a cat about a year ago before deciding against it. I am a little nervous at the idea of being a pet parent, especially a kitten.

I guess I'm just trying to figure out if this is just strong kitty empathy that has come about as a result of bringing this scared kitty somewhere safe to be looked after, or if this is the first step towards cat ownership. (Well, "own" in the sense of "inviting a cat to live in your house.")

How did you know your cat was "the one"? How did you find your pet kitties? Do you have any special kitty tips for a nervous nelly, possible new cat steward?

And also, should I go snatch this kitty back from the Animal Rescue League before they put a photo on the internet? Because this cat is CUTE and will get scooped up in a hot minute.
posted by helloimjennsco to Pets & Animals (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you want him and have the time and money to care for him, then yes, he is The One. Cats pick you, not the other way around. My cat was a sick stray kitten who walked up to me, rubbed on my ankle, and promptly passed out for three days. That was 14 years ago, and she's still my sweet little love.

Cats are really pretty easy to care for. And that is one CUUUUTE kitty.
posted by greta simone at 6:51 AM on July 25, 2016 [25 favorites]

This is exactly how cat ownership starts -- us humans don't go looking for cats, they find us. This cat (omg how adorable btw!) has clearly tugged on your heart strings.

A couple questions before you decide to go back and claim him however:

* are you prepared to make a 15-20 year commitment to this cat? They live a long time (yay!)
* do you have the financial means to take care of a cat? Pet insurance is a thing, but on top of food, litter, etc you also need to account for vet bills, dental cleanings, vaccinations, etc. And sometimes things go wrong and cost money. (It still makes me cringe when i realize what i've paid to have to full dental removals on 2 of my 3 cats, for example)
* do you have time for a cat? They're pretty independent, but you can't ignore them either. You can get away with leaving then overnight once in a while, but not for a week. You need to scoop and feed every day.
* if you do decide to go for kitty - I suggest getting two! Kittens have a *ton* of energy, and a pair will keep each other occupied. Check with the shelter to see if there's another kitty they'd think would make a good match!
posted by cgg at 6:51 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

You're ready for a cat if you're ready to take on a commitment for the next 10-20 years of kitty's life, are willing to be firm and patient to train the thing, to not declaw it or do things to it to serve your own convenience (like giving it away to get the apartment you like) , and to be ready to scoop poop and be responsible for its needs, including medical bills. There's no out on this one. You're getting a life partner and a family member.

In exchange the cat will give you love. Hours of entertainment, daily wake up calls, purrs, a pest repellant, and being a loving, caring member of your household.

We found our Dean and Hank at the shelter. Although we came in with a specific idea of getting one cat that was a particular breed and gender, these guys rolled out of their cage and instantly curled up in our laps at the shelter and we're instantly friendly. So honestly, they picked us. And it's the best long term commitment with responsibilities I feel like made in years. Right up there with getting married and buying a house.
posted by Karaage at 6:53 AM on July 25, 2016 [8 favorites]

My husband and I got our kittens about a year and a half ago, and neither of us had ever had cats before. For new (nervous) cat owners, we went waaaaaay overboard on the prep. We read up about all the brushing and clipping and playing and hunting and climbing, and.... really, "feed them and clean their litter box and give them something to scratch" pretty much was the only stuff that really mattered. Something to climb, some empty boxes and trash (oh my god they love bottle caps so much), and they're perfectly happy. Cat ownership is WAY easier than I had expected.

That being said, vet bills are expensive, scratching is annoying (though some cats are worse than others), and nothing wakes you up like stepping in a pile of cat barf and/or wet hairball when they wake you up at 5am to be fed. For me, the trade-off was worth it. They bring me such joy every day that I'd gladly clean out nasty litterboxes for the rest of my life.

You will get a million suggestions to get two kittens instead of just one. I don't know your life or if you have the capacity for two, but I will say that nothing on this cursed earth is cuter than two kittens snuggling together.
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:57 AM on July 25, 2016 [16 favorites]

The thing about cats is that there are MANY potential Ones. It's not like dating where you have to be super compatible and agree on important issues and maybe only one in a hundred people works out. If you bond with a cat, he's The One. Or he's someone else's One and you will find another One very soon if you just keep your eyes open.

So, yeah, I think you have found a One, but if you aren't ready yet, you'll fall in love with another kitty when you are ready.

I will say that having a cat is a lot easier than I expected, and there is commitment and expense and barf involved but overall it's a an excellent reward-to-effort ratio.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:03 AM on July 25, 2016 [11 favorites]

Oh yeah, that's your cat there. If you can't stop thinking about him, go get him. Cats are the best! He's quite adorable and if they had another kitty there maybe you could consider getting him a friend at the same time.

But back to your question, yes the cat gods have smiled down on you. Please update with his name when you decide on it.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 7:07 AM on July 25, 2016 [9 favorites]

I've had cats all my life so I can't give a new cat owner perspective but I did accidentally make the switch to dogs, which were entirely new to me, about 5 years ago. If you're conscientious and willing to do lots of research, as well as able to pay for routine vet care, you should be fine.

As for getting pets, most of them seem to find me. When I got my first cat as an adult, I was on a lunch break from my crappy retail job, walked past a sign that said free kittens, went in just to look, and came out with a kitten.

Made the switch to dogs 19 years after that when that cat died, and I was driving to a cat shelter to look at kittens. I saw a dog by the side of the road that looked like it had been hit by a car, and pulled over to help. Ended up adopting that poor stray dog - 15 years old, abandoned, deaf and blind.

I think that cat has found you. :)
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:09 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Call the shelter. Tell them who you are. Ask them when you can come pick up your kitten.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:11 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

Cats are awesome. My wife got a kitten around the time that we started dating, and now she's 13 years old. I can't picture our home without her.

One thing to consider, in addition to stuff other people have pointed out: in my experience, cats don't travel well. A dog is a much bigger commitment in a lot of ways, but you can't really take a cat on a weekend road trip like you can with a dog. So think about whether you have reliable people nearby who'd actually enjoy stopping by to take care of the cat (or if you're willing to just accept the expense of getting a sitter).
posted by roll truck roll at 7:12 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh my god, that cat. I would have a hard time not seeing it as fate. But I am someone who spontaneously adopted two additional cats a couple of weeks ago because an acquaintance had to give them up, and who is also going to spend $2000 in their first month with me because their teeth and ears are a mess. Adopting a stray comes with significant financial risk. At the very least you'll need to shell out for vaccinations, flea prevention, and an exam immediately.

Day to day, having a cat is easy. The potential financial costs are not insignificant, though, and if you want to be a good owner they're non-negotiable.
posted by something something at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've never had a cat before and don't really know much about cat care beyond "feed them and clean their litter box and give them something to scratch"

So I lived with kitties for a year having basically no responsibilities for them. Then they and their owner left and I decided I missed having kitties around and went and got one. I did a moderate amount of research, but honestly a cat is pretty easy even for an irresponsible cuss like me. You hit most of the relevant needs. Regular veterinary visits and give 'em some love and attention (which is a joy rather than a burden), and there's not much more to having a happy cat in your life.
posted by jackbishop at 7:22 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found the best kitten (sitting sadly in a mud puddle - it was so tiny!) years ago and gave it away. It was so perfect and cute and friendly and cuddly and I have always regretted not adopting it immediately. I felt that it was supposed to be my cat, but I would have had to engage in minor landlord deception (in my slummy, roach-infested building so I would not have felt too bad, actually). I wish I had kept that cat.

I have a great cat now and I love her, but I still think of the cat I gave away. If you feel drawn to this cat, it may not be "the One" - I mean, I adore my perfect cat now and spend much time petting and feeding her and talking to her about bad birds out side who are so bad - but you may be cat-haunted forever.
posted by Frowner at 7:25 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm in the "cats find you" camp, or the higher power you believe in leads you/them along until you meet. Sounds like that's what has happened with you. For example, my cats:

Cats that found me:
Tom: Went to the shelter to get a dog, found this orange baby and he reached out to us from the cage.
Ivy: Neighbor was moving and couldn't keep her. We took her in. She's a beautiful, if sassy, girl who loves the shit out of me.
Tobias: Fostered with his mom. Only orange baby out of four otherwise black-and-white kittens. Runty. Fell in love immediately.

Cats that I found:
Morgan: I went to the shelter with the idea to adopt, but didn't know what I was looking for. Found her 4 month old self to be quiet and mildly curious. (Turns out she just had a cold and once she got over that she was a little lovable terror that kittens tend to be) Now an old fat happy girl.
Chester: Found him on pet finder. Scared from the moment I brought him home. Had cancer and died three months after I adopted him.
Atlas: Also found him on pet finder, specifically searching for Maine Coons because I heard about how affectionate and goofy they are. Made absolutely sure he was ok with other cats before I adopted him (so we didn't have a repeat of Chester) - spends 90% of his time in the window or on a chair. Is lovable but kind of skiddish. I love him but not like I do my other cats.

After the last two, I've learned my lesson. I'm not going to shop for cats anymore. I'm going to leave it in Fate's hands from now on.
posted by INFJ at 7:28 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

People who ask, with concern, if they're really ready for a cat they adore are quite often the perfect people to care for a cat. Go adopt kitty and ask the shelter for vet recommendations for your first vet check-up.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:03 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

My cat's a stray old tom. Found him wandering the streets on Thanksgiving night. After he crossed a highway to follow me two miles home, purring all the way, I said to myself: "Fritillary — if that dirty little stray walks through the door of his own accord, he's yours."

Readers, he did.

You're in kib-deep now!
posted by fritillary at 8:22 AM on July 25, 2016 [9 favorites]

As soon as we saw our kitty I brought her home. Bought litter, litterbox and food on the way home from a gas station because we were not prepared how quickly I fell in love. I picked her up and she just sat in my arms (I've never had that, they always struggled.) And then she held my finger through the bars of her cat carrier all the way home. That's how I knew she chose me.
posted by like_neon at 8:30 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

My family has always had cats. Most of them were adopted at a shelter: We wanted a cat, and went out and got one. The decision to get a cat came first, and identifying the cat that was for us came second.

But a couple of our cats have just come to us. An abandoned kitten in a barn, an abandoned cat in a house my stepdad was cleaning out. They're both great cats.

Cats are pretty easy to care for. I feed mine twice a day (wet food), and clean their litter box once a day. I brush them and trim their nails once a week. (This is just to keep the hair levels down, and their nails just don't get worn down as much because they're older and not as active now. I didn't have to trim them when they were younger and only do it now to keep accidental scratches down.)

Cats tend to be territorial, but not like dogs. Changes in their environment make them anxious, but they adjust. This is why people suggest keeping a new cat in a smaller area, like a bedroom or a bathroom, for a little while when first bringing it home. There are various tips online for acclimating a new cat, but it's pretty simple. Some cats don't realy need this step.

Do you want a cat? Do you have the ability to care for a cat? Then if so, I think this cat is for you. You seem to really like it. Over time you will bond and it will be YOUR cat.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:48 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Everyone is wrong, that's MY cat. I demand that you mail me that cat immediately.

In all seriousness, go get that fluffer before someone else does.

My boyfriend and I adopted my teeny floofer from the humane society. She was spayed and microchipped and they recommended a vet. And when my boyfriend was in the hospital with some seriously scary stuff, I took a bath and she played with the bubbles.

You gotta get that cat.
posted by meemzi at 9:06 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Update: ARL says that little Houdini (I've been calling her that because of her miraculous escape from a closed glass shower stall--may not be a permanent name, but it's sticking for now) is about 2 and 1/2 months old and is going to be spayed today or tomorrow. I have an intake number for her, and they said I could call back tomorrow to see about starting the adoption process and what all I'd have to do. I think I'm adopting a kitty!
posted by helloimjennsco at 9:51 AM on July 25, 2016 [54 favorites]

Sounds like you are, yes! I'm so happy for you... and the cute little monster. You sound totally kitten-smitten, which is exactly how things should be. Concatulations!
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:53 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am a little nervous at the idea of being a pet parent, especially a kitten.

Your nervousness combined with your instincts to do the right thing (catch cat, take it somewhere where it will be cared for), tell me that you would make a good kitty parent. Healthy cats are pretty easy -- but never be afraid to keep asking questions, people love to talk about cat care.

The fact that this kitten is still on your mind tells me that it should be yours.

One thing to prepare yourself for is that given that the cat is at a shelter already, in order to get the cat back you'll likely need to pay their adoption fee. This could be a couple hundred dollars BUT, it should include starter shots and spay/neuter. In theory, it would have been cheaper for you to just take the cat to a vet to have that stuff done but don't balk at the fee b/c part of it helps to pay for the other floofs that the shelter takes care of.

Good luck! I hope you get this cat, and if you don't I hope you heart/home stay open for another kitty in the future.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:55 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

That's great mews! (I could not bring myself to correct that accidental typo :)

Do keep in mind, though, what folks have said above about money. If you don't have a couple hundred dollars or more in an emergency fund for surprise vet bills, you should start saving now to build up a kitty doctor fund. Vet bills can add up fast.
posted by mediareport at 9:57 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

You will love having a cat! Cats are the best!

Get a scratching post right away - a really good post will absolutely save your furniture from most cats. IME, the most important thing is to have a tall scratching post so that the cat can get a full extension - a friend gave me the cheapest one on this page of spendy posts and my cat loves it. She very occasionally scratches something else to indicate her very great displeasure but scratches the post several times every day. It is very robust and keeps her tiny claws in check - we generally don't need to trim them.
posted by Frowner at 10:06 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yay! Kitties are the best. And while your cat cannot go with you anywhere really, they are pretty self serve at home as long as someone will come look in on them. I have someone stay with my cat when I'm gone more than 2 days, because she likes that better and is happier when I get home that way.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:08 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're conscientious and willing to do lots of research, as well as able to pay for routine vet care, you should be fine.

Set up a savings account for the cat. I am not kidding. Non-routine vet care, which I hope you never need, is very costly. Dental care, which I highly urge you to undertake, is expensive. Senior care can be costly. Mine are seniors with health problems, and I have spent a couple of thousand so far in 2016.

She is adorable and worth the money you will spend. Just make provisions for it.
posted by jgirl at 10:10 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, that is your (lucky) kitty. She's cuter than should be legal!
posted by Dolley at 10:35 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, this is how they adopt and rescue us. :) If you could update that would be great. What a sweet baby. Paws and fingers crossed that all will go smoothly and you can bring her home soon!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 10:47 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hurray!!!!! She is absolutely meant to be yours. Congratulations!

Here is the Kitty Starter Pack I gift to people who haven't had a cat before, in case it is helpful: Mazel tov, may you have a smooth and safe adoption and a long, wonderful life together! Please share more pictures when you can, and if you have additional questions regarding supplies/kitten raising techniques, you now have a whole new extended family of cat lovers at the ready. :)
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

PS: Houdini is an excellent cat name, but I think she looks like a Naomi...
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:00 PM on July 25, 2016

Also, if you have the room: Toys R Us Pop Up Tunnel
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:05 PM on July 25, 2016

Instead of/as well as a savings account, you might also consider getting pet health insurance, which is not terribly expensive (sometimes less than $20/mo?) and will cover a lot of even really expensive things like surgeries.
posted by lotf629 at 12:09 PM on July 25, 2016

Instead of/as well as a savings account, you might also consider getting pet health insurance, which is not terribly expensive (sometimes less than $20/mo?) and will cover a lot of even really expensive things like surgeries.

Do both!!!
posted by jgirl at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think I'm adopting a kitty!

Yay! ... kittens can be very high-energy, so seriously consider getting a second kitty as a playmate.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:30 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cats are the very best.

Save your furniture, get this scratching post: The Ultimate Scratching Post
No, get two or three and scatter them around the house. Your furniture will stay untouched.

And while you're at the shelter, why not get a friend for little Houdini? You will quickly go crazy (happy but still crazy) if you just get one kitten, they need a lot of attention.
posted by phliar at 1:55 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

This, this, this!
Cats pick you, not the other way around.

My vote is to go back and pick him up : )
posted by onecircleaday at 4:10 PM on July 25, 2016

Just Git Dat Kitty;... if you don't travel out of town a lot; or if you do, that you have a trusted friend or relative ready to sub for kitty-care for you.
posted by ovvl at 6:02 PM on July 25, 2016

This could be a couple hundred dollars BUT, it should include starter shots and spay/neuter. In theory, it would have been cheaper for you to just take the cat to a vet to have that stuff done but don't balk at the fee b/c part of it helps to pay for the other floofs that the shelter takes care of.

Depending on the shelter and where you live, the fee may well be a bargain. The work work was work was done by what is probably a very experienced vet, and spay/neuter vax is frequently not cheap on a retail basis.

Congratulations on your pending cat adoption. Ask the shelter if there's a good companion for this kitten, because while cats do want to please more than they get credit for, nothing can wear a kitten out like another kitten. And nothing is as cute as two cats cuddling. Just as long as you stop at two.
posted by wotsac at 6:47 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yayyyyy! She is so adorable. Those giant feet! Those ears! Those little "freckles" across her mug. Gah, you are one lucky owner. I like Houdini - you can nickname her Dini or Dinah.
posted by like_neon at 5:44 AM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am glad you have decided to get little Houdini!

Belatedly answering your question "How did you know your cat was The One": It took two shelter visits for me to settle on Mystery. The shelter had named her that because, although she had a largeish enclosure to herself, she was always hiding in the concealed part of it. They didn't want to let me adopt her at first, because they knew I have theatre and music rehearsals at my house, and they thought all the people and noise would scare her. They said "This is a shy cat."

But on both visits, I stepped into her hiding place where she was curled up on her bed and said hello-- prepared, of course, to leave her alone if she seemed frightened. She didn't act scared or shy away from me; when I stroked her, she rolled over and purred. I thought "This cat isn't shy; she's just a bit of an introvert." So I convinced them to let me take her-- not hard, since she'd been there 6 months and had already been returned by one adopter. They persuaded me to take a 6-month-old kitten, Milo, as a companion for her, and that was a good decision.

You (and other cat-choosers who read this thread in future) may also be interested in Ursula Le Guin's account of her adoption of her cat Pard: Choosing a Cat.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:02 AM on July 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ps: we'll be here when you have questions (you will have questions). Just bring fresh pics please.
posted by wotsac at 8:59 PM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your kind words and advice!! I'm afraid I have some good news and bad news.

Bad news: my roommate, who initially seemed on board with the idea of adopting a kitten, got VERY cold feet when she realized how serious I was about adopting a kitty. We talked about it, and ultimately decided that adopting a kitten is not a thing that will contribute to continued peaceful cohabitation. Mega bummer.


Good news: little Houdini was barely on the Animal Rescue League website a week before finding an amazing forever home! Yay, Houdini!

Meh news: they named her Olive. OLIVE??? I mean, it's a fine name, but it's no Houdini...

I am so pleased with all of this amazing advice though, and when the time comes that the stars align and there is a kitty in my future, I'm definitely saving this for reference. Thanks!!
posted by helloimjennsco at 12:34 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

« Older Mysterious abdominal and back pain; next steps?   |   Lower temperature methyl cellulose Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.