Choosing A Cat

Why do people let these fuzzy freeloaders into their homes and hearts? It”s simple, really: Cats make great pets. They”re more independent than dogs, but quite willing to cuddle up in your lap. They”re small enough to keep in apartments (try keeping a Rottweiler in a studio loft some time). They”re fairly low-maintenance. And, well, let”s face it: Kittens are cute. They”re fluffy and playful and they need you. It”s a powerful combination. No wonder cats have made their home with some 34 million humans in the United States alone.

It”s Not Your Choice

Don”t be fooled. Unless you walk into a pet store specifically looking for a kitten, you don”t get to choose the catthe cat chooses you. The cat targeting you will run after you down the street, meow plaintively from the bushes as you garden or show up on your doorstep in inclement weather.

One six-month-old tom chose to huddle on our back steps last winter and look through the window as we ate. The snow drifted down onto his head, and he shivered pathetically as we ate our meal in warmth and comfort. He was the picture of misery. Of course, as soon as I opened the door he walked in like he owned the place, giving me a look that clearly said, “Well, you certainly took your own sweet time, Human!”

Choosing a Cat Breed

Individual cat breeds vary in size, color, hair length and temperament. Certain breeds have a reputation for being playful, for instance, while other breeds are more sedate. Some breeds tend to attach themselves to one person, while others are more family-oriented. Ask yourself if you”re willing to spend the required time grooming the longhaired varieties, or whether your house is the right home for the more playful breeds.

How Long Will Kitty Live?

If you have an orphaned cat or just want to know what you can expect from your new kitten, knowing a cat”s age and its equivalent in human years will help.

How long your new kitten will live depends on many factors including genetics, illnesses, and how well you care for her. With adequate care, there”s no reason why your new kitty won”t live well into her teens.

You can”t control every aspect of your cat”s life, but you can make one decision that could increase her lifespan drastically: Will she be allowed outside or not? The outside world offers many threats to her health: cars, disease, dogs and fights with other felines. On average, an outside cat lives seven years while a life spent inside can last as long as seventeen to twenty years. Twenty years is the upper end of the scale: In cat years that”s equivalent to approximately 96 human years.

How Old Is Your Kitty in Cat Years?

Age(in years unless otherwise specified)

Human Equivalent(in years)

3 months

5

6 months

10

1

15

2

24

4

32

6

40

8

48

10

56

12

64

14

72

16

80

18

88

20

96

21

106

Cat Names

The naming of cats is a difficult matter,It isn”t just one of your holiday games;You may think at first I”m as mad as a hatterWhen I tell you, a cat must have three different names.— T.S. Eliot

Eliot was quite right: Naming a cat is serious (and fun!) business. Cats rarely have only one name. There”s the given name, but then there are the nicknames, the endearments, and, yes, the “You”re in deep, Buster” name. Many cat names are produced spontaneously. For example, if your cat has a middle-of-the-night run-in with the kitchen garbage, he might be forever known as the Midnight Moron. Other cat names evolve. For instance, as a cat gains weight, she might earn the name Blowfish.

When you give a kitten his first name you”re welcoming him into the family. How do you come up with suitable names? Favorite books, movies or television shows and celebrities have generated names for new pets, as have characters from cartoons and mythology. You might even look to your favorite junk food for ideas. Imagine curling up with Oreo or feeding Cheeto his dinner.

Some cats get their names from the circumstances under which they join your family. A kitten, given as a Christmas present, might quickly assume the name Santa Claws. Your cat”s physical appearance is another source of inspiration when searching for a name. Orange cats might be Peaches or Pumpkin, while white cats might prompt names such as Snowflake, Coconut or Casper.

Your favorite people names are always good for cats: Chloe, Zo, Joe or Moe. Have you considered a famous historical figure? If you have an interest in Ancient Egypt, name your cat Cleo. Or if French wars and politics are your passion, name your cat Napoleon.

If you”re still stuck, try typing “cat names” into any search engine. You”ll find plenty of web sites that list appropriate (and sometimes not-so-appropriate!) names.

Whatever name you choose, be sure it”s one you”re comfortable sharing with friends, shouting, or telling others, such as your veterinarian or groomer.