Cats make great pets to have around the home. They bring their own personalities, habits, and characters, soon becoming a key part of your family. And while some cats are known for being a little less on the needy side, you do need to care for them to make sure they’re at their happiest and healthiest. Here is a list of “essential responsibilities.”
1) Believe in “Till Death Do Us Part”
When you adopt a pet, you are committing to care for the animal for its entire life. Now, we all know that life has a way of changing unexpectedly. Should your ability to care for your pet change, or if your pet has the potential to live for many decades (such as a parrot or tortoise), your responsibility should be to carefully plan who will be the next care provider for your pet.
2) Know It’s “For Better or Worse”
Just as in human relationships, commitment to a pet is to provide love and care “for better or for worse.” Undoubtedly, there will be struggles — delayed house training, separation anxiety, destroyed furniture, chronic health issues (no doubt, you can add to this list). When opening your home and your heart to an animal, be willing and prepared to invest the time, energy and financial resources necessary to successfully manage any rough spots. Such challenges are a normal part of life. The silver lining is that they help us appreciate and enjoy the smooth times so much more.
3) Guarantee Food and Shelter
Perhaps the most obvious responsibility on this list, provision of the basic necessities of life, is an important one. Water and nutritious food are a must, as is protection from the elements. The vast majority of dogs and cats would prefer to be housed indoors, living side-by-side with their favorite humans. From their perspective, a bed in the garage or a doghouse in the backyard is invariably a second choice.
4) Provide Emotional Nutrition
The kitty who persistently meows at an unanswered door and the dog who is chained to a tree in the yard are both in heartbreakingly inhumane situations. The need for emotional nourishment is just as great (if not greater) than the need for what is in the food bowl. Every animal’s emotional needs are different, but every animal deserves to have their emotional needs fulfilled. Your responsibility is to recognize and fill such needs (overfilling is perfectly acceptable!).
5) Commit to Preventive Health Care
There is a rather long “to do” list when it comes to proactively preserving your pet’s health. Protection from harm, balanced nutrition, exercise, parasite prevention and regular checkups are a good start to any list. We encourage you to work with your veterinarian to create your own “to do” list for your pets.
6) Ensure Your Pet’s Safe Return
Should the unthinkable happen and your pet becomes lost, the likelihood of a happy ending is greatly enhanced if he or she has been microchipped (and the microchip registry has your current contact information). Another critical safeguard is a collar sporting a current identification tag.
8) Create a Model Citizen
Behavioral issues are the number-one reason dogs and cats are relinquished to shelters and other humane organizations. Rehoming such animals is a huge challenge, and the unfortunate end result is often euthanasia. Do the work early on to create a model citizen by participating in training classes or one-on-one work with a trainer. You and your pet will both benefit.
9) Advocate for Your Pet’s Health
Whether selecting a vaccination protocol or making a life-or-death decision, your active involvement as a medical advocate for your pet is imperative. You may not have realized it, but at the time of adoption, you accepted “power of attorney” to make medical decisions on your pet’s behalf. Yes, your veterinarian’s recommendations are important, and he or she is an important member of your pet’s health care team, but you are “team captain” because no one knows your pet as well as you do.
10) Plan for End-of-Life Care
Unfortunately, sick or aged animals rarely simply pass away peacefully and comfortably in their sleep. In most cases, it is incumbent upon their human family members to decide upon and create an end of life for the pet (whether via euthanasia or hospice care) that is managed humanely. If you share your life with pets, you will undoubtedly find yourself faced with this all-important responsibility, and it is up to you to make sure your animal is as comfortable, free of pain, and well-loved as possible.