15 Things to Consider When You Want a Cat
By John Platt Jr. February 24, 2019
So, you’ve been thinking about adding an adorable little furball to your home. Although they are a big responsibility, bringing a cat into your home can be just the thing you need to help liven up your home. Although many people believe cats to be loners, with enough attention and caregiving, cats can become quite friendly, social, and vocal creatures. Here are 15 reasons you should adopt a cat into your home.
1. Studies have shown that owning a cat can lower your risk of heart attacks
Petting your pet, whether feline or canine, releases neurochemicals such as serotonin in both your brain and your pet’s brain. It is a mutually beneficial action that is good for your health! In 2008, scientists conducted a study that concluded that people who owned cats were less likely to experience strokes and heart attacks at a significant rate. They postulated this was likely because stroking your cat promotes neurochemical production that lowers stress and anxiety, which are two leading precursors to a stroke or heart attack.
2. Owning a cat could make your children less prone to allergies
It is a common belief that if you’re an adult that suffers from allergies like pet allergies, it was most likely because you grew up with pets. However, a study from Sweden in 2003 suggests the opposite. In fact, this study found that babies raised in a home containing 2 or more pets were up to 77% less likely to experience allergies like dust mite allergies, pet allergies, ragweed allergies, and grass allergies.
3. Cats have been our domesticated partners for the better part of 10,000 years
We’re all aware that cats had been living with the Egyptians over 4,000 years ago, and that the Egyptians had a great respect for our feline friends. The oldest record of a cat being buried alongside a human is from Cyprus almost 9,500 years ago. It’s likely that cats slowly domesticated as they began patrolling the fields and grain houses for mice. If you want to explore how cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt, read our article about cats in ancient Egypt.
4. Cats learn their names, even if they don’t respond to them
Our collective image of cats is that they are an aloof furball that hates attention. They will call on us when they need something. However, this is often not the case at all. A study from 2013 suggests that cats do recognize our voices, but respond with ear and head movements rather than a vocal affirmation. In addition, a study from 2017 suggests cats are more attentive to voices that are vocal and have a wide range in pitch rather than a monotone voice. This explains why we baby talk kittens!
5. Cats have a higher capacity for problem solving than dogs
Although dogs have almost twice the number of neurons than cats do (which many scientists believe directly correlates with intelligence) it’s hard to declare which animal is “smarter” than the other. However, according to Dr. Berit Brogaard, D.M. Sci., Ph.D., their cerebral cortexes are more complex than dogs, explaining their rational thinking and complex decision making skills. Although dogs often test better in maze tests, this is likely because they recognize they will receive treats at the end, a cat will explore the entire maze for prey.
6. Cats are less expensive than dogs
The popular saying goes “you can’t put a price tag on happiness,” but if you’re a pet owner you know pets can get expensive. On average, the ASPCA found it cost more to own a dog than a cat. On average it costs around $1,300/yr to own a dog, whereas it is only $1,100/yr to own a cat. However, specific dogs such as small breeds can be lower maintenance and thus cheaper to own than a cat. Many costs for a cat can be cut down by adopting, shopping around for foods and meds, and doing bloodwork for any operations at your local vet as opposed to the hospital. Doing this will save you a few hundred bucks.
7. A feline companion is the purrfect way to reduce your stress
Although we previously mentioned that petting your cat can cause your brain to begin producing serotonin, reducing your stress and anxiety levels, there are other ways your cat reduces your stress. Some therapists suggest that the bond alone that exists between cat and owner, especially if nurtured with daily play and interaction, is enough to create a sense of purpose and distraction to help limit stress and depressive episodes.
8. Cats make over 100 sounds, great for a good laugh now and then
We often imagine cats as the silent, solitary type while believing dogs to be the loud boisterous family members. However, research suggests cats make over 100 different sounds, each with a different meaning, while dogs only make about 10! Most researchers agree cat’s meow not because they want to have a conversation, but because they want our attention for something! Kittens meow to their mothers for food, thus they learn meowing means they get what they want. It doesn’t help that us humans can’t pick up on their communicative scents and gestures!
9. You can leave a cat alone for a while
Although it is recommended to adopt cats in pairs so that they have companions, cats can be solitary animals at times that require little to no maintenance. Adult cats can spend up to 24-48 hours alone if proper food and clean water is set out for them! This means if you have an emergency, or you travel for short trips often, it isn’t the end of the world if you must leave your cat! This would be an issue if you had a dog since you would need to pay for someone to come let your dog out or pay to board them. Cats can feed themselves and relieve themselves in the litter box. That is if the litter box is clean of course! If you need help with litter box management, take a look at our check list.
10. Humans have an instinctual need to love cute animals
We have an evolutionary pressure to care for our young. Hence, we dote on our little babies to make sure nothing bad happens to them! If you’ve ever had the feeling of “it’s so cute I want to squish it,” this is also an evolutionary response to the onslaught of positive emotions you feel when holding a baby kitten. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing after all.
11. Cats have incredible lifespans, longer than most dogs
On average, cats live between 12-19 years. This range can be improved through proper health care, diet, exercise, spaying, and neutering. The average cat does live longer than the average dog. If you intend on minimizing the number of times you go through the loss of a pet, then owning a cat is a better choice than a dog. Cats can be partners during significant chunks of your life. Learn more about how cats age by reading our article about cat years.
12. Cats hunt pests
Do you live somewhere harmless, but creepy wolf spiders invade? A cat is the perfect way to rid your space of unwanted spiders and other bugs! Although they are carnivores, the small amount of protein provided by a bug isn’t enough to sustain your cat. Your cat will likely hunt and play with water bugs, spiders, flies, bees, and crickets just to flex their muscles. Although it shouldn’t harm your cat to practice her hunting techniques, you should be aware of what your cat is eating and try to keep her from eating bugs you don’t recognize. Hopefully she sticks to hunting bugs and doesn’t leave a dead rodent on your pillow as a gift!
13. Cats are great for those of us that live in apartments
One of the issues when adopting a dog, particularly large ones, is that they require a lot of play and exercise to keep their brains and bodies healthy. For people that live in apartments, this often means walking the dog up and down the stairs to use the bathroom, and daily walks to the park for some running. If you’re someone that can’t work that in your schedule, adopting a cat is perfect for you! Cats excel in small spaces because they don’t need a lot of room to move around. They often play by themselves and love to chill in their cat tower watching the birds on the balcony!
14. Cats clean themselves
As an owner of both a 9.9 pound Tortoiseshell cat and a 90-pound Golden Retriever, I can tell you there is absolutely a difference between their cleanliness levels. Cats are grooming themselves all the time, especially before naps and bedtime. This means that besides some sticky substances and smells, cats rarely require an actual bath. Convenient for pet owners who do not have the time for a task that turns into bathing the equivalent of a rowdy child that doesn’t understand what you’re saying.
15. Cats are litter trained
As mentioned before, dogs often need to be let out or go on a walk in order to relieve themselves and take care of their business. However, cats go whenever they want in the privacy of their litter box. This not only means that clean up is fast and clean, but there likely won’t be any accidents. A dog has two choices, make an accident or go outside. The cat on the other hand, is likely to just walk to the litter box and go, rather than making a mess on your new carpet. If you want to learn more about cat litter, read our article about cat litter types.
Finally, no matter what reasons you choose to get a cat, the unique joy and experience that comes with a new lovable furry friend will definitely be one of the best reasons of all.