Want To Get A Cat: Costs, Care, Etc?

I’m stoked. When we moved into our new house half a year ago I told my girl we could get a cat, but my wife’s too irrationally freaked out regarding smell and dirt (no one in her family has ever had a cat and they all think cats are scary :unamused: ), so I sacrificed following through on a promise to our girl in favor of matrimonial harmony. But then yesterday, for some reason, my girl reopened the subject and my wife appears to have consented. So, I’ve got a few questions.

If we put a litter box in an out-of-the-way room, which happens to be upstairs and happens to get very hot in the summer, will it get stinky even if we clean it fairly regularly (which I assume is once a week), or will the heat be more likely to dry up and harden the turds to make them less smelly?

What’s the approximate cost of all the medical procedures initially (shots, getting it fixed, etc.)?

What’s the approximate monthly food bill for an average cat eating average food (presumably half dry and half canned)?

We always had outdoor cats when I was a kid. I think we’ll make this an indoor cat, to keep it cleaner and less likely to get run over or run away, causing serious heartache for us. But we have double sliding glass doors to our rooftop area and people often go in and out and in and out, etc. Are we likely to have a problem with the cat being sick and tired of being cooped up inside, so it will wait for its chance and then spring through the open door and run off to see what it’s been missing? Or, do you feel an indoor cat would likely be content with its lot and not wait and scheme for a chance to suddenly escape? Of course we’ll try our best to close doors and confine it, but just wondering if it will always be a serious risk.

The litter box should be put someplace easily accessible and near where the people are. We find that in the bathroom under the sink works well. In any case, the cat needs to always be able to get to it. I had to battle a bit to get people to realize that closing the door on the litter box would be a bit of a problem for the cat. Also don’t put the litter box next to the food dish. Seems obvious, but it apparently isn’t.

I would highly recommend a dry food only diet. It is much healthier and is also cheaper. If you give them canned food regularly, they are likely to avoid the dry food altogether and get sulky when there’s no canned food. With canned you also need to give out no more than can be eaten in one sitting, and clean the bowl immediately after to avoid spoilage.

Depending on the brand used and the cat’s appetite, figure on $300-600/month for dry food. Canned food can easily run $2,000 per month.

Cats are curious, so they will be likely to look at an open door as an invitation to explore. This is another area where training of the cat’s people is needed. You can’t leave a door open even for ‘just a second’ without the cat getting the urge to take a look. On the other hand, house cats often grow too timid and become scared of the outside world, so you’ll have to see. Our cats have ended up locked out in the stairway or in the laundry room several times because someone wasn’t paying attention. Our entryway has a double door and our new kitten recently got caught in the three inches in between them when whoever locked up for the night didn’t notice her checking things out.

If you use a wood-pellet litter which disintegrates into powder when urine hits it, you should clean it 2x a day by using a scoop to scoop out the poop into a covered waste bucket, and use a 2-layer litter box with a grating. After scooping the poop out, you rake the scoop across the remaining litter and the disintegrated powder falls through the grating. Every 2 days or so, you pull out the bottom drawer full of the powder, and dump that in the waste bucket too. Once a week you empty the whole litter box and wash it and the drawer, and dry it in front of a fan before putting it back in place. Using this method is easy, cheap, and there is virtually no smell. However, this depends on frequent cleaning, which means you should put it in a convenient place, not somewhere out of the way where it’s likely to be neglected. We put ours in the living room, actually, and would only move it out if guests are coming.

There are also clumping sand-like litters (e.g. at Costco). These you use with a one-layer litter box, and the urine makes the clay-based sand clump firmly together for removal. You scoop out the lumps twice a day, and you change the remaining sand once every week or two, and wash and dry the litter box once every 2-4 weeks, or something like that.

There are other kinds but those are the two that have worked best for us in terms of minimal effort and lack of odor. Here’s a thread on litter box odor and here’s one on litter btw.

So you have to buy the right kind of litter box for the litter you’re using. If you want the 2nd kind we have one we can give you, and a half-full jar of that kind of litter, too. Just swing by Donghu. You can bring Emily and she can play with our two temporary foster kittens if you like. They’re still available for adoption, btw.

[quote]What’s the approximate cost of all the medical procedures initially (shots, getting it fixed, etc.)?

Depends a lot on your vet; including shots, fixed and chip, about NT$3k (?) at our vet if we introduce you and it’s a stray kitten you’re taking in, and more if it’s not.

Oh, I don’t know, but you can go all dry and it’s cheap; even if you buy a better (e.g. Hill’s Science Diet) type, cats eat so little that the overall monthly cost isn’t much. The dry food is better for their teeth I think, plus canned is VERY pricey ($23 per TINY can) and it spoils them. I only use it for a transitional period for kittens (we can discuss that in detail later) and sometimes for mixing meds in when needed. The dry might cost a few hundred per month; dirt cheap. But there are other threads in Pets on what to feed cats, on the BARF diet of raw meat, etc..

Cats do okay in apartments, especially if they have another cat as a playmate. Two really works better than one IMO. But one is okay. Indoor cats get used to being indoors, and might not even dare to venture outside; others will spring through that door the first chance they get. So it depends. We trained ours to be afraid of the front door so they’ve never darted out.

There are always stray kittens available, so hopefully you’ll consider adopting, not buying. :wink:

[quote=“Mother Theresa”]I’m stoked.

If we put a litter box in an out-of-the-way room, which happens to be upstairs and happens to get very hot in the summer, will it get stinky even if we clean it fairly regularly (which I assume is once a week), or will the heat be more likely to dry up and harden the turds to make them less smelly?[/quote]

Jeepers, mate! Gotta be cleaned at least once a day. How would you feel if you could only flush your toilet once a week? And we won’t even mention toxoplasmosis. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis

[quote=“Mother Theresa”]

What’s the approximate monthly food bill for an average cat eating average food (presumably half dry and half canned)?[/quote]
As another poster remarked, dry food is healthier and cheaper. Buy the best. About 300-500 per month.

Cats that are used to only being indoors and are sterilized tend not to want to go out much. Scaredy-cats with no sexual urges. Keeping a dog solely indoors is inhumane, but a cat not so IMO.

Congrats! Nothing like a bundle of fur walking on your keyboard and snuggling up to you on cold nights!

If you get a young kitten, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep it inside, since it won’t know what it’s missing. If you get an adult cat, though, or even an older kitten, that is used to being outdoors, it will always be trying to get out and won’t be too happy.
If it’s an indoor cat, be careful it doesn’t get too fat. It’s almost impossible to get a fat indoor cat to lose weight. Our family learned this the hard way. We thought you could just leave their food dish out and they would only eat as much as they needed, but before we even realized it, the cats were obese. Later we read that if the kittens were not used to feeding at will - that is, if they were used to being given their food, eating, and then having the food taken away - if you started to just leave their food out, they would eat too much.

Yup, like some Forumosans, cats need portion control. :blush:

You should also invest in a cat tree…about NT$2000 for a nice one. They spend hours on it and they end up never scratching the furniture. Once you have one, you can always fix it up with new rope yourself when it gets messed up (after about a year).
Cats don’t cost a lot at all, but make sure you have somebody who can take care of them when you ever decide to travel. Even a week trip to the South or to Thailand is impossible without finding a cat-sitter.

You say you have a sliding door to the rooftop? Then why not let the cats out the door onto the roof? Can they escape from their? I lived on the top floor and would just open my door and let my cats wander up to the roof when they wanted. Occassionally they would walk 8 floors down to the basement and explore but usually they would go up, hang out and then come down.

of course you worry about them, and at first I would go up to watch them but after a while they could go up alone. They were house cats and didn’t go out for the first two year, but they sure took to it after a while and were so much happier.

As for the litter box, it shouldn’t have a smell at all if you keep it clean. Sprinkle baking soda on it daily to control odors. And make sure it is by a window.

Cats can and do slip through balcony railings or off of the tops of balcony or rooftop walls and fall to their deaths from high-rise apartments.

You can so have my cat MT.

I know which is why I watched them at first. But really, the joy they had going up and watching birds on the overhead wires, and seeing the open sky, was worth the risk. They were having adventures and really living a cat life.

I take risks too for a better life.

double post. this one’s toast.

If you are worried about litter odors, one way to control this is (again) a diet of dry food. Canned food tends to leave things a lot more stinky. If urine odor is a problem, trying a different brand or type of dry food may help. Some of the dry foods are overloaded with vitamins and flavorings that can cause heavy urine odors. If a good brand of dry food and good litter doesn’t solve the problem, take the cat to the vet as there may be a medical issue.

I recently lost my persian . Had him for nearly 15 years. When I got him, I went and bought two books on raising cats/kittens and also sought the advice of people at the cat stores. He was a wonderful cat and a great character and I enjoyed my time with him immensely.

And he was quite inexpensive to run. Especially in TW. Its expensive to keep animals in the USA when they are old and require medical attention (insanely expensive in the USA, so much so that now you can buy insurance to cover that). Medical attention in Taiwan was far far cheaper. And in general they dont require too much medical attention if healthy and kept healthy.

Mine needed only an annual visit to the vet. And of course , keep his shots in order. IF a kitten there are specific times for specific shots. Seek the advice of a vet on this. Take him/her to a vet as soon as you get him/her for his/her first check up.

The litter box doesnt smell if you:

  1. use the scoopable liter its better, but the plastic (silica) beads are not bad too and last bout a month. The plastic bead kind do give off a slight chemical smell. The plastic bead kind can last a month if you only have one cat, then must be replaced in its entirety.

  2. change the entire liter once every 2 weeks even though its scoopable and theres plenty left. If using scoopable clay . the non scoopable clay lasts only a week, then must be replaced totally.

  3. of course wash out the cat box everytime you replace the cat sand.

  4. usually cats have one dump per day and 2 to 3 pissballs a day. Scoop and remove these soon as you can. I got into the habit of doing this first thing in the morning and last thing at nite and also first thing upon return home. The poop you can dump into the toilet (if theres no clay stuck to it or you use flushable clay). The piss balls can be kept in a wastebasket outside the house (these stink).

  5. the cat box should not be kept in an enclosed space as that will stink.

Generally it seems wet food is preferable until the cat is six months or older then you can feed dry food. Its true, get the expensive dry foods. They are better. However, I caution to go back to wet food after the cat is over 7 years old as when they get older they drink less water. Its not very noticeable but it results in kidney disease later if they dont get enough water.

IN fact, it may be advisable not to feed dry cat food at all, but instead to feed only canned cat food. Or as many others say feed only carefully prepared raw food.

dry cat food is convenient for us owners but in the long run is not healthy for your pet.

Cats live 10 to 15 years on dry food but may live to 20 if on wet food. OF course , especially on wet food you need to brush their teeth. Brush gently with a cat toothbrush and you can use the cat toothpaste (but NEVER human toothpaste).

I do suggest getting a cat care book, its good reading.

Keep your cat safe and indoors at all times. Get a harness and you can teach him/her to walk and enjoy the outdoors with you attached to him via harness.

they need plenty of attention, just like dogs do. And they enjoy your attention.

Long hair cats are harder to keep because they need daily brushing and once a month washing. Short hairs dont need this as much in general.

Also get into the habit of clipping their claws often. But do NOT clip too close. Just a little bit. IF its enjoyable you can do this often and save yourself from DEEP scratches.

Also a nice cat scratch post IS ESSENTIAL> Cats need to CLAW often. They will claw your furniture if you do not provide a cat scratch post (or several) .

And pls play with your cat often, they love it, even well into adult years.

A cat requires a lot of attention. Maybe slightly less then a dog, but they do.

p.s. make sure to provide clean fresh water and change this water several times a day if possible (i do it twice) and wash out the bowl each time. Cats have very sensitive taste and prefer clean water and a clean bowl.

and remember they are not limited to the floor like dogs are. they can and will climb everywhere they can. On top of shelves, desks, tables, fridge tops. Allow them easy access. They will learn later which places not to go to. Allow them views of the outside world where possible. They love this. Just like you would if you are cooped indoors all day.

p.p.s. if and when giving a bath , its best to start when they are young as most cats dont like baths, but they can be trained to even enjoy it as mine did.

make sure they are safely inside the toilet and cant escape out when wet. Use baby shampoo (i find this the best) and avoid the face area. Wipe the face area with a damp towel instead of hosing his face. If you make bath time enjoyable they will not claw you to death.
I put my cat in a bucket , after a minute he will hunker down and enjoy the warm bath water. As long as you do NOT spray water in his face, make him choke on water. DO not get water in his nose or eyes. Remember to use a damp towel on his face area.

Afterwards dry with nice clean cloth and also make sure to blow dry him until he is 100pct dry. They can get sick if they are not dried well enough. Bath times in summer is easier as they can be dry enough at 90pct as its soo hot in summer. But wintertime pls make sure 100pct dry before you let him out into the living room.

The ears must be cleaned. I actually use a bit of shampoo directly into the ears and then lift his head up so water will not get to his face area and actually hose the ears directly with water. He will then shake all the excess out. It takes practice. In the beginning. just use a damp towel or damp dry towels to clean inside his ears. But his ears need to be cleaned.

kittens have dirtier ears and in fact you may have to use special ear cleaning solutions as they get these ear mites (for life but much much less of a problem when adults as their ears will be larger and dryer). The ear mites make them scratch like heck so their ears need to be cleaned often and gently.

ok enough for now. haha. really get a cat book as well. Its full of useful info.

heres a short clip of my dear departed friend smudgey on his harness leading the way home


he never walks away from the apt. only towards it. SO i have to carry him to the opposite side of the complex and he will lead the way home.

he also goes on escorted walks with me. im kinda pestering him here tho.

youtube.com/watch?v=JKADEGzL … re=related

youtube.com/watch?v=z3nsE6AD … re=related

youtube.com/watch?v=eQ2JWMtz … re=related

Great post, Tommy. You are SO underrated sometimes! :bow:

Thanks Jimi. ACtually im under-rated all the time :slight_smile: and over-rated sometimes.

I think everyone here has given some great advice, so I will just add a few tips.

litter box: it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that will make it smell. Keep it in a dry room, either a spare bathroom with a fan or in a room with good circulation, fans, or AC.

cats vs. dogs: cats will give you a bit more freedom. I can leave my house for a day or two… maybe even 2 nights… and as long as they have food and a sunny window they will be happy. Cats are great for apartments and small spaces too. They don’t need so much room and they will prefer to sleep on top of you anyway.

the roof or balcony: my cats love my terraces and even play on the edge of the railing. They love to sit out in the sun and watch people. Just keep them inside on a windy day if that makes you feel better.

I think you made a great choice. A family… a HOME… needs pets to make it real!

OH! and PS! about costs: Cats are cheaper than children :slight_smile:

Get him one of these for exercise :slight_smile:


Or one of these so he can help clean up the house:

youtube.com/watch?v=ewdbilSW … re=related

We do kitten milk for 3 weeks, then puréed canned food mixed with a little kitten milk for a few days, then just the purée, and at about week 4 we start putting softened, presoaked dry food in; at about week 5 they can start on dry food. They’re teething by week 4 and need something to chew on anyway. So you don’t have to wait until 6 months for the dry food IMO.

We recently adopted a cat and the cat rescuer recommended a litter called EverClean. No odors at all - we even keep the litter box in a corner of the living room.