Responsibilities of keeping a cat

Keeping a cat is a serious responsibility. You need to be sure you can attend to its social, domestic, and financial needs for the duration of its life.

Black cat next to money

Like any animal, keeping a cat is a serious responsibility and although rewarding, has plenty of down sides too. A person properly prepared to keep a cat is one who can give unconditional love and cater for all of the cats needs, whether financial, social, or domestic for the duration of its life.

Financial cost of keeping a cat

A bit of wise shopping can reduce the overall cost of a cat without removing any essentials, but you should allow a budget of about US$50 / £30 a month for the essentials (food, insurance etc.) This does not take into account extras such as toys, bedding, extra vet bills and unexpected costs which will average out to about the same. All together you can fully expect a cat to cost you around US$1500 / £900 a year

Regular costs

  • Dry food
  • Wet food
  • Treats
  • Worming/flea treatments
  • Cat litter
  • Insurance

Additional costs

  • Grooming equipment
  • Transporting cages
  • Bedding
  • Scratching posts
  • Toys & activities
  • Accessories (e.g. collars)

One-off costs

  • Neutering
  • Microchipping
  • Unexpected treatments
  • Catteries / holiday care

Social requirements of cats

To keep a cat happy and healthy it has to live in an 'enriched environment' where both routine and change keep the cat active, interested, and part of a social grouping. Without such an enriched lifestyle your cat may become lonely, depressed, ill, or develop unusual and unwanted behaviours.

Your cat will need exercise which can come in many forms but should certainly include some 'playtime' every day with its owners. Favourite toys and games will develop but new ones should be introduced regularly so that both the cat and owner do not get bored. Companion animals and outdoor activities can help with exercise.

cat being groomed by a girl
Cats require attention every day with feeding, grooming, and play

Cats also need the means to groom themselves and to be regularly groomed by owners. Cats are very clean animals and will groom themselves given a safe environment. Owners can help by providing scratching posts/mats and performing coat grooming.

Grooming and play-times help to form bonds between pets and owners, help provide for a cats social needs, and are a good time to perform health checks. This requires time and commitment every day.

In addition to time with humans or other animals, cats also need time alone and their own space. Sleeping areas in quiet locations, hiding places to feel safe in, and owners who know when to leave them alone are all essential for a well balanced cat. In effect, a cat is another member of the household and should be treated as such.

Domestic needs of cats

As well as the obvious requirements of food, water, and a fresh litter tray, cats have certain domestic needs and are the cause of some household problems. To be a responsible cat owner you must be able to deal with daily cleaning of urine and faeces from litter trays, regular use of a vacuum to remove hair and reduce flea populations, daily feeding, removal of any dangerous or poisonous items, disposal of any caught prey (mice etc..) and more.

All these factors should be considered, and this is just for 'normal' cats, not to mention 'problem' cats. However, the point of this article is not to discourage you from keeping cats, just to outline your responsibilities. The right person to be caring for a cat is one who can attend to all these needs, yet still gain far more in return from the relationship.

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