Everything you need to know about owning a cat

12 April 2021

Long-time feline fan or just starting to warm up to the idea of a furry little companion? Although they are known to be mischievous little rascals, cats are the most popular household pet in many countries for good reason, being an adorable addition to the family. Looking after a new pet is a big responsibility and for cat owners, there are many ins and outs that you need to know. We've created a guide below on everything you need to get started on becoming a loving cat owner.

Top 3 most popular breeds and their temperament

Cats don't come in as many different breeds and personalities as dogs but there are still some differences to each one. Check out these three of the most popular cat breeds in New Zealand and why they are the purrrfect pet.

Burmese: A family favourite no matter what country. Burmese cats get their namesake from their origins in Burma, and are now commonly found all across the globe. Weighing around 4kgs at adulthood, these short-coat solid colour felines are extremely friendly, especially with those of the same breed. It may be a good idea to get two, as they can sometimes get lonely, but you can easily cheer them up with the right amount of love and playtime.

British Shorthair: What many people think of as the classic ‘cat,’ British Shorthair cats are larger cats growing to over 5.5kgs in a huge range of coat colours and patterns. They are known to be fiercely loyal, curious, as well as energetic, supported by their relatively muscular build. One reason for their immense popularity is the ease of ownership, enjoying both companionship and alone time, adaptable to suit almost anyone’s lifestyle.  

Ragdoll: Becoming increasingly popular worldwide is the beauty that is the Ragdoll cat, weighing in at over 5.5kgs at adulthood, along with a truly distinctive look. Their long silky fur, in combination with a colour pointed coat and brilliant blue eyes, has earnt the admiration of many owners and fans alike. Their namesake comes from the way these cats sometimes go limp when picked up, and have a very mild temperament. They are calm and even-tempered cats that get along well with everyone, perfect for the introverted. 

Ultimately, these are only a few of the many breeds in New Zealand, each with their own quirks and attributes that make them special.  Choosing the best cat is very much up to your personal preference.

Where to purchase?

If you have a specific breed in mind, your best bet may be to shop around through registered and reputable breeders. The New Zealand Cat Fancy is the go-to place for a rich directory of breeders across New Zealand for every breed of cat available. You can get in touch with breeders and sellers through their websites, email or contact number as listed in the NZCF registry. 

If you don't have any preferences for your future cat, there are many other avenues to purchase. Keep your eye out for listings online, in the newspaper or around your community from private sellers who may no longer be able to look after their kitten, or those who have just had a litter. Traditional pet stores will also likely have cats you can purchase and can redirect you to purchasing any specific breed you're after.

Another great option is the SPCA, as well as other private cat rescues in your local area, where you can visit their shelters and adopt a cat from. There are often too many cats in SPCA shelters, overlooked and neglected by owners for no good reason, that will no doubt steal your heart if given the chance.

The cost of purchasing a cat can vary depending on the source your cat comes from, as well as its breed. Often times, private individuals with litters will give away kittens for free. On the other hand, pedigree cats from breeders can cost up to $2000, which is costly. For those looking to give a rescued cat a loving home, the SPCA charges an adoption fee of $200 for kittens, $125 for adult cats, and $90 for senior cats. You can expect to be spending at least $670 a year on ongoing costs for your cat, often more, so plan ahead!

Getting vaccinations, chipped, and desexed 

Despite all their mischievous antics, cats are very similar to us in the need for vaccinations against common diseases and illnesses which can prove fatal to them, as well as any specific vaccines for certain breeds. Following the same process as puppies, kittens need two (or sometimes three) vaccines spaced a month apart which protects them from a combination of diseases. This should be followed by a booster shot one year later, with following vaccine boosters applied on the recommendation of your vet, usually once every 1-3 years. As every cat is unique, it is always best to seek professional advice from your vet to keep them in perfect health. 

Unlike dogs, cats are not legally required to be microchipped (a small tracking device), but it is still a good idea in case your cat is lost, so that they can be identified and reunited with you. This is a simple and painless procedure best done by your vet. Once your cat is microchipped, you should get your cat and its details registered with the NZ Companion Animal Register, so that you can put worries to rest if you ever happen to get separated.

Desexing your cat is a surgical procedure done by a vet, followed by post-operative care visits, permanently sterilising your cat so that he/she cannot reproduce. Cats are especially prolific in reproduction, so if you do not want to constantly look after or deal with litters, desexing can be a good idea. There are also other advantages to desexing, as cats behaviour will change to be less noisy, less aggressive, cleaner habits, and less wandering from home. Furthermore, there are also medical benefits such as a decreased risk of certain diseases related to the reproductive system.

Daily care/ongoing ownership

Ideally, you should bring your cat to the vet yearly for a check-up, as well as other treatments they may need such as a vaccination or dental cleaning. For older cats, you may also want to bring them twice a year, especially important as cats often hide pain and their condition may be mistaken for normal lazy cat behaviour. 

Cat food can be found from a variety of sources such as pet stores and supermarkets, and you should be looking for food that is specific for your cat’s age. It is important to feed them with mainly cat food, as they are all specially formulated to meet the dietary needs and requirements for your cat. Dry food is often more cheaper and easier for feeding schedules as it can be left out for the cat’s discretion, but many cats will prefer the taste and texture of canned ‘wet’ or semi-wet cat food more. Both are nutritious enough for feeding them twice a day if it is a kitten and once or twice a day for adult cats. Keep track of your cat’s weight and adjust the feeding amount to suit, so they have a healthy build.

Cats also need exercise as well, although not as often as dogs. Take time out of your day to play with your cat, and get them moving to help stay fit. The companionship you provide is also important for the happiness and mental wellbeing of your cat, so do not forget to spend time with them. Toys, beds and other accessories can also assist with the overall condition of your cat. 

If you find yourself going away for business trips, vacations or extended stays away from home, consider taking your cat to a cattery, where it will be looked after until you return. This ensures your cat is professionally looked after, and all its needs are met, so it is just as happy and healthy when you return.

Owning a pet can be a blessing in your life, but it also carries much financial burden and stress. If you are unlucky, you may find yourself facing costly surgical fees from the vet in order to keep your cat in good health. Pet insurance, like health insurance, can come in handy during these situations and allow you to focus on the wellbeing of your companion, and not on how to cover costs. For a thorough walkthrough on what you need to know about pet insurance, read our article about the most important things when considering pet insurance. Even better, getting pet insurance won’t add any extra hassle to your life with Quashed, a platform that gathers all your insurance policies in one place, making it easy to view and manage. Take control of your insurance, and get the most of it — try Quashed free now. 

Try Quashed, it's free.

Get started