Library, Animal Control
Since cats are predatory animals that hunt alone, it was once believed they preferred to live alone. However, cats left to their own devices do share territory and build long lasting relationships with others. When cats are kept as pets, they become attached to their human friends and can be taught to come to a call or wear a leash. Cats in the wild are efficient hunters, which means they are accustomed to spending much of the day relaxing, usually in a sunny, elevated spot. This suits them for life with companions that will be at work all day. Additionally, cats are particular about their elimination habits. This makes it easy to teach them to use a litter box. Very nice qualities in a pet.
Cats can live 12 to 20 years of age if they eat a balanced cat food and are protected from cars, animals and unfriendly neighbors. As predators, cats have specific dietary needs, so they can't be vegetarians. They develop heart and urinary tract problems if they do not eat a balanced diet. If your landlord and family members approve of getting a cat and you know how much it will cost to care for a cat, you are on your way to providing a perfect home for a feline companion.
Should you get a kitten?
If you can spend plenty of time entertaining and protecting a growing kitten, you may enjoy watching your kitten grow into an adult. Kittens can climb brick walls and Christmas trees. They will swallow string and foil, which can be deadly to them. Kittens require monthly vet care until they are about 6 months old. You should keep young kittens in one room with a litter pan and scratching post for several days to help establish proper litter box behavior and keep them from getting hurt on household items. If you allow them to run all over the place, they could easily become lost or they could learn to sleep on the stove whenever you are not home!
What about a purebred?
You can show a neutered or mixed breed cat at a cat show. However, cat shows are traditionally held to select breeding stock by awarding titles that increase the value of a cat's offspring. If you want to enjoy the hobby of showing and breeding, you will want a purebred cat. If you are allergic to some cats you may need to get a breed you know will not aggravate your condition. A purebred cat usually has a birth certificate called his "papers". These papers certify the owner of the kitten's mother knew who the kitten's father was and that is all. Papers don't guarantee your cat will be pretty, friendly or even healthy.
There are over 300 types of cats bred for specific appearance. Cats of one breed are all related to each other. Breeding related cats makes it possible to have more family traits, both good and bad, appear in a greater number of kittens. Breeders use genetic probability to produce kittens that will win awards at cat shows, based on their appearance. Breeders producing kittens that also make good pets are the best source of purebred cats. If you don't need to participate in cat shows, purebred cats may be available from the shelter. We keep a wish list and will call you when we have a cat you might like available.
Cats should have a physical examination by a veterinarian when you first bring them home. Annual checkups allow your vet to keep statistics on your cat to better help your cat when he is sick or injured. Early detection and prevention of problems are also likely with regular veterinary care.
Your vet will probably recommend neutering your cat. Neutering reduces behavior problems common in intact cats such as fighting or marking territory. In a time of readily available pet cats, neutering your cat is a responsible decision.
Have more questions, please visit
ASPCA's Pet Behaviorist
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12 East Church Street
Frederick, MD 21701