Increase the laughter, excitement and joy in your home by adopting a cat

People are social and we all highly value our interactions with friends and family. While you might not think the same of cats, people who have more than one can attest that having multiple cats can make everyone in the household – two-legged and four-legged – a little happier.

“Cats need stimulation, friendship, companionship, play and exercise, and these are all things that a second cat can help provide,” explains Dr. Jane Brunt, a veterinarian and executive director of the CATalyst Council. “That’s why the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Humane Association, Petfinder and the CATalyst Council are partnering to remind people that adopting two cats can be twice the fun.”

Emily Armitage, spokesperson for the Anti-Cruelty Society, estimates that cats are surrendered to shelters at up to twice the rate as dogs, depending on the time of year. That’s why it’s appropriate that the theme for this June’s Adopt-A-Cat month celebration is “Adopt Another Cat.” More litters of cats are born in the summer, so shelter staff must work even harder to find each kitten a “forever” home.

There are a lot of good reasons to adopt two cats. While cats are often misunderstood as solitary beings, cats are extremely social. They get lonely when left by themselves, and cat owners often report that a cat will mourn the loss of a feline friend.

But before you add a new pet to any home, you need to be prepared. Take a minute to make sure you and your family are ready. The AVMA offers this countdown of the top 10 things you should consider before you adopt a cat:

10. Scratching is a healthy form of exercise for cats. When you adopt a cat, pick up a scratching post, or other items, to give your new pet a healthy place to “work out.”

9. Visit your veterinarian to get advice on parasite controls for fleas and ticks. Prevention is the best cure.

8. Make sure everyone in your house is prepared for the new pet. In fact, make the visit to the shelter a family affair, so that all members of the family can help pick an appropriate cat – or cats. Everyone needs to be on board to provide the best quality of care.

7. Make a cat-care budget. Litter, cat food, scratching posts, veterinary care, perhaps a little catnip – add this all up and you’ll see that cats are far from expensive pets, but these are costs for which you should be prepared.

6. Stock up on supplies before you bring the cat home. This will help your cat feel at home from the first moment they arrive. In addition to a scratching post, you’ll need a litter box (be sure to show your new kitty where it is), cat litter, food and water bowls, cat food, toys, perhaps a cat bed and grooming tools like a brush, toothbrush and nail clippers.

5. Cat-proof your home. Did you know that cats can swallow loose string or tinsel, and that they can cause stomach or bowel obstructions? Cats are sometimes attracted to power cords and will chew on them – resulting in a powerful shock. Kittens have also been known to swallow paper clips. For more information, visit www.avma.org.

4. Call your veterinarian to ask for health tips. A quick consultation with your veterinarian before the cat arrives and a visit soon after you adopt the cat will give you the information you’ll need to keep your cat healthy.

3. Include your cat in your home emergency plan. If there is a fire, flood, storm or other disaster, your new pet needs you to be a hero. For a video or brochure on keeping pets and other animals safe in an emergency, look for the “Saving the Whole Family” brochure and video on www.avma.org and www.avmatv.org.

2. Pick a cat with a personality that matches your own. According to animal behaviorists, round-faced, long-haired cats are often more mellow in personality, while short-haired cats with triangular faces can be a bit more active and fun, although there are always exceptions to this rule. Take the time to get to know a cat to make sure it will be a good fit.

1. Mark your calendar to visit your veterinarian twice a year for a wellness checkup. Cats are often perceived as self-sustaining. But, as Dr. Brunt explains, many cats do not show obvious signs of pain, discomfort and other symptoms when they are ill, so you may not realize you have a sick cat at home until it’s too late.

Bottom line? Two cats will bring you twice the fun, but it’s up to you to make their lives healthy, safe and happy. For lots of great information about cats and how to keep them healthy, visit www.avma.org/catsrule.

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