Downsides of Cat Ownership

Last Updated on March 25, 2020

This may be a topic that is not commonly addressed by cat lovers as it seems to be quite the opposite of being an avid cat lover. Not many speak on the negatives of living with a cat. People who have little to no experience with cats often find themselves regretting an adoption and some choose to get rid of their cat because no one properly addressed the downsides of cat ownership. This is an honest post to anyone considering a cat who has no experience with them to help ensure you are making a good decision before you adopt.

Cats Can Be Stubborn

To a cat, you are not a superior, you are an equal. This can cause issues in a household with a cat who refuses to listen. You may find yourself with a cat who loves to go on kitchen counters, dining tables, and other high places which can result in things being broken by accident. While cats can be trained not to go on or in certain things, maybe of them will simply do it when you are not around to scold them and you have to be okay with that reality. They are not fully domesticated creatures and still boast their wild side daily.

Not All Cats Are Affectionate

You may fall in love with someone else’s cat who is affectionate and loving. This one may be a total lap cat but the reality is, not all cats are this affectionate. I would estimate that only 30% are heavily affectionate which is why they are mistakenly deemed “independent pets” who don’t need attention. Many cats don’t like to be held, slept with, or pet excessively. While they can be friendly, they cant often shun your attention and move away from you when they have had enough. If you want to ensure you get an affectionate cat, adopt an adult from a cat only shelter who can assure you they are affectionate. You never know what you are getting when you adopt a kitten.

Cats Are Not Entirely Independent

While some cats can be content with minimal to no interaction from humans, most require some level of attention daily. Cats do not like to feel left alone even if they are not the affectionate type. If you travel a lot, owning a cat is simply not in your cards. Leaving a cat alone for longer than 24 hours is not recommended as it can scare them into a survival mode that can make them more territorial and aggressive. You will want to ensure you have someone who can check up on your cat or watch it the entirety of your absence before you adopt.

Cats Have Claws and Sharp Teeth

This shouldn’t be a surprise to people but one of the biggest complaints people seem to have when it comes to cats are bites and scratches. Some cats use bites as a means of communication and affection. They also use their nails for just about everything. They do not realize you have no fur to protect your skin so if you decide to adopt a cat or kitten, expect scratches now and then. You may think declawing them will fix this issue but that is complete animal abuse and more and more places are acknowledging it as such. This is a completely illegal practice in the UK and several states in America. If you absolutely must have a declawed cat, adopt one that has already had its nails removed but be aware that these cats typically come with litter box and behavioral problems you will need to work with.

Some Cats Can Be Destructive

Cats have an instinct to spread their scent and one of the ways they do this is by using the glands in their paw pads. They scratch different areas of their territory to mark it as their own. This can lead to damaged doorways, sofas, and other items in the home. This behavior can be redirected to a more desirable location such as a scratch pad or a cat tree, but it is something they need to be taught early on when introduced to your environment. There will still always be a risk for something to be scratched so you must be aware of that before you adopt.

Cat Urine and Feces Smell Terrible

Litter boxes smell horrible. The cheaper the litter you use, the more apparent this is. All carnivores have pungent feces as they eat a primary diet of proteins. The urine is typically used as a marking tool with concentrated levels of ammonia that can make your eyes tear up. If you have any kind of allergies or sensitivities, this is something you need to consider.

Cats Can Still Spray After Being Neutered

This is typically more common for males who go outdoors than indoor-only cats. If you allow your cat to go outdoors (unsupervised is NEVER recommended) they will likely spray around the house, yard, or garage if they smell other cats on their territory. They don’t always spray indoors but it can happen. Spraying is different from urinating outside the litter box as well but both can smell pretty bad.

Cats Should Not Be Let Outdoors Unsupervised

Many cat owners still allow their cat to come and go as they please. While most will stay close to their home and come back, the risk of disease, poisoning, getting hit by a car, injury from another animal or another person harming them is just too high to risk. Cats do love the outdoors so it is recommended to either leash train them to walk with a cat harness or provide an outdoor enclosure over allowing them to free roam. If your cat will stick close to you in a fenced in a back yard, sitting outside and watching them is another option but still a little risky. Cats who never venture outside can still live a very happy and fulfilled life, however.

Proper Care for a Cat Is Not Cheap

When it comes to diet, many cat owners opt for dry food as it is considered cheaper and more convenient than wet food. While this is okay for dogs, cats who are on a dry only diet are at higher risk of developing crystals, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. You should never only feed your cat dry food. A split of 50/50 is the maximum but it is best to have their primary diet come from protein-rich, grain-free canned food which is not cheap. Expect to spend around $50 a month on canned food alone for one cat if you are purchasing quality food.

Some Cats Have Food Allergies

Another thing that can bring up the cost of food is if your cat has food allergies. The most common food allergies in cats are chicken and fish. Most canned and dry options contain some form a chicken or fish as filler, making it very hard to find a cheaper balanced diet your cat can tolerate. Dairy is considered an issue for most cats as they are lactose intolerant so that should be avoided entirely. Cheese is okay on occasions but cow’s milk (unless lactose-free) should never be given as a treat.

You May Be Allergic to Cats

While most people are aware if they are allergic to cats, some are not. Some people only develop allergies to certain cats which can be an issue when adopting. Allergies stem from a reaction to dandruff and the saliva and it is a common misconception to think it is from the fur itself. Most people with cat allergies have mild reactions and can happily live with a cat they are allergic to. Some people exposed long enough to cats build up an immunity and the allergy will eventually go away altogether on its own. If you are not sure if you have a cat allergy, it is best to spend time around people who own cats or visit a shelter and ask to interact with different cats and kittens.

Cats Can Be Messy

Cats may take care of their fur to ensure that it is clean and well kept, but that is where they draw the line. Cat litter, hair, dandruff, and food bits can find their way around your home very easily. It is always recommended to clean your home more often when you have cats present, especially if you also have small children.

Cat Hair Don’t Care

As mentioned above, cats shed and many of them shed a lot. Wherever you allow them to lay or wherever they choose to lay will quickly be covered in cat hair. This hair can get all over your furniture, pillows, bedding, and clothes. If you don’t mind having to do some extra work to keep items hair-free, this is a non-issue.

Cats Can Carry Diseases

With most animals living indoors, cats too can carry diseases which are commonly from parasitic creatures. While it is rare to become sick from a cat, you have to realize there is always a chance. Toxoplasmosis is one commonly feared by mothers, especially whilst still pregnant. It is rare but it is always recommended to keep pregnant, breastfeeding, and small children away from litter boxes as a precaution. The most common disease people acquire from cats is “Cat Scratch Fever” or lymphoreticulosis which is a form of blood poisoning that can be transmitted through the nails and in some cases, the saliva. If you get scratched or bitten where the skin is broken, clean the area with 3% peroxide after rinsing it with warm water and antibacterial soap. If your cat receives baths, this greatly decreases the risk as well as keeping them indoors.

Overly Affectionate Cats Can Suffocate Newborns

This is rare but it does happen. Cats who are affectionate tend to love newborn babies. They will often snuggle them and the bigger they are, the more at risk a newborn is of being smothered by them. It is best to not allow your cat in the baby’s room, especially not in the crib. If your baby sleeps in the bed with you, you will want to keep your cat out of the bedroom until your child is over a year old.

When it comes to cat ownership, addressing downsides to owning a cat is important when considering it for the first time. If these issues are not addressed, the cat or kitten being adopted risks being brought to a shelter or worse, being put down. If you know someone who is adopting for the first time, be sure they know the negatives of cat ownership and to address their own personal life to make sure they are still up for it.

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