By TreeLiving June is national adopt-a-cat month. It’s not just an opportunity for thousands of abandoned and neglected cats to find a home. It’s also a chance for an equivalent number of individuals and families to experience the many joys of cat ownership and companionship. Through most of human history people have lived in environmental balance with animals of one kind or another. Times may have changed, b ut cats remain perfect pets for modern times. A cat is a relatively low maintenance pet that won’t cost you a great deal to feed, doesn’t need walking and is generally less susceptible to illness than dogs. And when it comes to cleanliness, cats are wonderfully easy to have around, especially if you adopt a domestic short-haired variety. In fact, two are as easy to keep as one. Cats have a reputation for being independent and aloof, but that’s not strictly true. There are many different cat personalities, and you’ll find one that goes with your own. Although it’s true that cats are generally self-contained and undemanding creatures, they do love human company and will really appreciate you and the attention you give them. As with most pets, you also get back what you put in. Love your cat and you’ll get plenty of affection in return. If a cat sounds like a good idea for your lifestyle, look at it the other way round as well. Can you give a cat what it needs? Indoor cats won’t have the chance to chase birds and insects but will need you to provide environmental enrichment and stimulation to keep them happy. Outdoor cats can be discouraged from hunting, with a bit of effort. It’s not true that cats are untrainable and a well-fed cat that receives lots of attention through play will be less inclined to hunt or wander. In fact, some cats never hunt – they’d much rather be with you. Once you’ve done your homework and decided to give a cat a warm and welcoming home, get it all ready. A cosy cat bed helps to provide environmental security, and it’s a good idea to start them off in a part of the home that isn’t too full of noise and people. A litter box and some simple toys will help them to settle in. It may be good to keep them inside until they are sure that this really is their home and you are their caretaker. There are far too many unwanted animals out there already. Make sure your new cat is neutered, vaccinated against the standard diseases, and micro-chipped. Depending on your area you may want to consider cat-proofing your garden to prevent wandering. Scratch mats and posts will reduce the chance of claw-sharpening on your furniture, but if your cat tries it, then again, it can be trained with gentle but firm discouragement. With most pets, there aren’t bad animals, only bad owners. When the bonds are established, you’ll have a lifelong friend, with all the personality quirks and funny ways that have made cats as or even more popular than dogs as pets. Think it through, choose your cat carefully and you’ll never look back.

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