But once you've decided to let one of these gorgeous little creatures adopt you as their slave, what next? How much do they cost? Should I choose a moggy or a pure breed? How about a cat or kitten? Do I mind if my new curtains get shredded into strips?
Before you even start looking at kitties, you need to get your home prepared for your new arrival. The basic requirements are:
Litter box, kitty litter and scoop (I recommend clumping litter, as you're able to remove the tainted areas with ease, and it also lasts longer) 3 bowls. One for wet food, one for biscuits, one for water/milk. A good supply of wet food and cat biscuits. Toys (things that come on dangly strings are always a hit) A soft rug or cat bed (especially if you're not going to let them sleep on the bed with you, so they have somewhere warm to curl up at night). Cat carrier (Trust me, it's not easy taking a cat to the vet without one).
All of these items are usually available in the pet isle of supermarkets. They sell them at vets too, but I find they can be quite a lot more expensive there.
Cat or kitten?
Yes, kittens are cute, playful, and downright irresistible. If you decide on a kitten, make sure it's at least 10-12 weeks old, as many kittens have a lot to learn from their mother before they're separated, so you don't want to take them too early. They also need time for their immune system to develop, and will require sterilisation and immunisation within the first 6 months.
Adopting a cat can be equally as awesome. They already have a personality, and love cuddles as much as any kitten. If you have a young child, a grown cat can often be the safest option. They're also a little less active than kittens, so if you don't spend enough time at home to raise and nuture a young furniture clawer, consider a cat instead.
Longhair or shorthair?
If you don't like vacuuming, you may be happier with a short hair. On the other hand, if you can't resist the feel of a fluffy warm belly on your lap (like me), you might want to choose the long hair variety. Just be prepared - long hair means more grooming to make sure they don't get matted fur, and it also means you can't leave any clean clothes lying out on the bed….unless you want to go to work in the summer looking like a Yetti.
Love cats but allergic? Well why don't you consider a career in Villianry, and get a hairless cat, like Dr Evil's Mr Bigglesworth. The Sphynx breed is known for its lack of fur, and are perfect for company without the sneezing. Find out more about this unique breed through Ozsphynx, a specialist Sphynx cattery in Perth that breeds quality Sphynx cats and kittens for sale.
Now you're ready to make the commitment, you have a few choices. You can invest in a pure-breed cat, which usually cost around $200 each, and you can find breeders that often advertise on Gumtree. Or if like me, you can't resist a cuddle from a fluffy, floppy Ragdoll, there are a number of breeders in WA who have the perfect ball of fur for you. Click here for a list of registered breeders. NB: ensure the breeder is actually registered with a cat council. This will ensure you're not buying from a 'backyard breeder'. It also means you'll know more about the ancestry of the breed, get better advice, and you may even get to meet the kitten's parents.
Another option is visiting a pet store. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the sale of kittens in pet shops. Many believe it is immoral to sell pets in shops, and it is often more expensive than going to a shelter. If you do choose to purchase from a pet store, the vaccinations and micro-chipping are usually already done for you, but you'll still need to organise sterilisation.
Alternatively, I recommend rescuing your new kitten from a shelter. Shenton Park Cat Haven is always overflowing with little meowers desperate for new homes. The kitten package makes the whole process easy and affordable, with sterilisation, worm and flea treatment, microchip, and their first F3L vaccination for just $210. The cat package includes sterilisation, microchip, worm and flea treatment, and the first F3 vaccination for just $165.
Or why not consider a golden oldie? Cats over 8 years of age are available for adoption at just $75. ….and here's the best part - you can take home a second cat or kitten for just $105. That gives your new cat or kitten a playmate for when you're at work, and double the cuddles. Other shelters include SAFE, the RSPCA Animal Shelter, and Pet Rescue. (If I've missed any, please feel free to add the details in a comment at the bottom of this article - the more kitties we can help find good homes the better.)
Know someone with a cat who just had a litter, and is looking for new homes? While the kitten may be 'free', remember there is still the cost of vaccinations, micro-chipping and desexing, which you'll probably have to arrange yourself.
Once you have your kitty or kitties, it's important to keep them inside for at least a couple of weeks, so they can familiarise themselves with their new surroundings. You should only let them outside once they've been vaccinated, to ensure they don't pass on or receive any nasty diseases from other cats in the area.
One of the most emotional moments you'll share with your new kitty, is letting them outside for the first time. Stay close but out of sight if you can, otherwise they may get excited and run. Unless you're near a busy road don't worry too much - they don't wander far at first, and 99% of the time they find their way back. Try letting them out for 20 minutes one day, 30 minutes the next etc. until you're confident they won't do a runner and end up in NSW hiding out in a cheap motel with a poodle.
Now finally, it's important to check the regulations of cat-ownership in your local area. For example, in the City of Swan, there's a 9pm-6am curfew for cats (must be kept indoors at night), and any owner with 3 or more cats must have them registered. The 2011 Cat Bill will also require cats to be sterilised, micro-chipped and registered. While this may seem excessive and expensive, its purpose is to help stop thousands of cats and kittens being euthanised every year, due to irresponsible and neglectful owners.
'Cuppy' looking for a new home at Pet Rescue
I know you've heard it before, but kittens really are for life, so don't make this decision lightly. You will need to pay for all their food, treatments and vet bills for the rest of their life, but as any cat owner will tell you - the love you get in return makes up for it ten fold. If you travel a lot, or spend a lot of time away from home, maybe a cat isn't for you. But if you love cuddles and dangling things on a piece of string - a cat might be just what you're looking for. Also, they are extremely clean animals who even bury their own excrement….how awesome is that?