Overcoming 7 Obstacles to Cat Ownership
Cat Health Care Costs
If you’re concerned that cat health care is too expensive, it’s good to know that cats tend to be healthy and usually don’t require a lot of pricey care. That said, they still need regular exams and vaccinations. And like human medical care, veterinary care can be costly. Fortunately, there are options to help manage the cost:
- Pet insurance. It costs money, but it can potentially save you money too. There are many options available. Some pet insurance is affiliated with national pet store chains and others can be purchased through a local veterinarian. Talk with your vet, as well as friends and family, to get an idea of the available options and what they cover.
- Subsidies through a local shelter or chapter of the Humane Society (HSUS). If you have trouble affording care for your cat, they may offer subsidized health care or know of local groups that do.
- Veterinary school discounts. Vet schools sometimes offer discount services to the public. You can locate a veterinary school near you through your vet or the American Veterinary Medical Association web site.
- Payment plans. Many veterinarians are quite happy to work out weekly or monthly payment plans so you don’t need to pay for the entire cost of each visit up front.
Cat Scratching and Other Behavior Issues
It’s in a cat’s nature to scratch. They scratch to remove frayed bits of claw, to mark territory, to work off energy, and to play. Yet you can have both a cat and nice furniture by giving kitty some other outlets. Try these solutions:
- Scratching posts. Provide several scratching posts made of sisal, cardboard, or wood. Scent the posts with catnip to get your feline friend interested.
- Claw caps. Also called “nail caps,” these tiny vinyl sleeves slip over a cat’s claws, painlessly preventing him from doing damage when he tries to scratch. They are available online and at pet stores and many veterinarians.
- Nail trimming. Trimming a cat’s claws isn’t difficult, especially if you start while your furry friend is young. You can get tips on claw trimming on the web sites of the ASPCA or HSUS.
- Declawing. This is a controversial practice, so you should consider the pros and cons carefully. A cat’s claws grow from the bones of their digits, so permanently removing a claw means amputating the last joint of each digit. If you’re thinking of adopting a kitten, the Humane Society suggests a more sympathetic solution: Immediately introduce your kitten to scratching posts and other acceptable objects to satisfy his itch to scratch.
- Talk to a vet, veterinary behavior specialist, or CAAB. If you bring a cat into your life and find you can’t get a handle on one of her behavior issues, always talk to a veterinarian to rule out health problems. Simple issues like a urinary tract infection can cause a cat to vocalize, stop using the litter box, or even become aggressive. Rule out problems such as these before assuming your cat is incorrigible and beyond redemption. If the cause is behavioral, a CAAB or veterinary behavior specialist can help. Many offer remote consultations and can work closely with your own veterinarian.