When I first got to college, I immediately missed having a pet. I grew up surrounded by dogs and cats, so when I no longer had a companion who was excited to see me no matter what, I felt incomplete. When I had the opportunity to get my own pet, I took it. My cousin had gone to a barn wedding where she found a box of kittens. She knew I had been sort of looking into getting a cat, so she called me and asked if I wanted this tiny orange kitten. I drove to pick her up and brought with me a small box lined with socks. This orange kitten was the tiniest, cutest, sweetest thing I had ever seen. I had no idea what it was like to actually have a pet that was just yours, and not your family’s. Here are some lessons I’ve learned that can hopefully help new cat owners.
- Every cat has a unique personality.
I think some people are wary of cats because they cannot be “trained” in the way that dogs can. Cat owners need to understand that they’ll never have total control over their cat. Some cats are independent and may stay out of sight for days at a time. Other cats need attention to survive. The older your cat gets, the more you learn about their personality. When I got my cat, Gnocchi, the vet told me he was probably 4-6 weeks old. That is extremely young to be away from his mother. I think Gnocchi’s exposure to humans from such a young age played a big part in developing his personality. He is now 2 and a half years old and he is very social and friendly.
- Not all litter boxes are created equal.
I thought, since Gnocchi was so small, I should get an open-top litter box just as small. I was wrong. That little man can kick litter like he’s getting paid to do it. I vacuumed and swept my bathroom floor every day and it didn’t even matter. I moved out of that place two years ago and there’s probably still litter in that bathroom. I even upgraded to two different covered litter boxes and he was still able to spread the litter everywhere. Now, I use the Breeze system, which uses little pellets instead of traditional litter. I can still hear Gnocchi trying to kick it everywhere while he buries his business, but he never succeeds. The pellets have defeated him, and I no longer have litter stuck to my feet every time I get out of the shower. However, I know not all cats like the Breeze system, which sucks for those cat owners, because I will never go back to the old way.
- They’ll become your best friend.
Turns out, when you’re the only one feeding your pet, he’ll really start to like you! My cat is always hanging out with me. If I’m in a Zoom lecture, he’s sleeping at my feet. If I’m doing yoga, he’s watching me from a few feet away. If I’m trying to go to sleep, he’s attacking my feet under the blanket. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. Cats are wonderful companions. Especially now, while I’m living alone in a pandemic. Gnocchi’s quirks and habits are a source of joy for me. For example, he really loves drinking out of a running faucet. Whenever I am in the bathroom and I’m standing at the sink, Gnocchi will jump up and meow at me until I turn the water on for him. I recently got him a water fountain that constantly has water flowing from its bowl. It’s now his favorite thing and I don’t have to leave the sink water running anymore. It’s funny because it’s such a silly thing to provide such luxury for a cat, but he’s done so much for me. The least I can do is make his life as good as it can be.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet, consider a cat. I think cats are especially great for apartments since you don’t have to worry about taking them outside or having enough room to play. Like any pet, cats are a big commitment. They can live to be over 20 years old. And that makes me so excited – I’ll have Gnocchi to blame for anything that goes bump in the night for a long time.