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How To Be a Responsible Cat Owner


Hi there. CAT Stanley here again talking to you from the comfort of my living room couch. My feline friends and I rely on you, our humans, to make sure that all our needs are met, that we are cared for properly, and that we are kept safe and comfortable. In short, we rely on you to be responsible cat owners.

Being a responsible cat owner may mean different things to different people. To set the record straight, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has established guidelines for responsible pet ownership. As a cat, I’m in full agreement with the AVMA about these guidelines. I think each and every cat owner needs to be following these guidelines.

I won’t go through all of the guidelines. You can read them yourself. I will touch on a few of the high points though.

  • “Committing to the relationship for the life of the pet(s).” Please don’t throw us out because you’ve gotten tired of us. We grow fond of our people and being displaced from our home and the people we love is traumatic for us. If you can’t commit to more than just a short time, don’t bring us home at all (unless of course you’re fostering a homeless cat until a furr-ever home can be found.)
  • “Keeping only the type and number of pets for which an appropriate and safe environment can be provided, including appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.” Yes, we require food and water but there’s much more we need as well, including regular veterinary care.
  • “Controlling pet(s)’ reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter thereby helping to address animal control and overpopulation problems.” With few exceptions, most of us should be spayed or neutered. At the very least, we shouldn’t be creating kittens that end up in shelters and rescues needing homes.
  • “Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.” “Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, its veterinarian.” These are two separate guidelines but the bottom line is that we need regular veterinary care to stay healthy.
  • “Preventing pet(s) from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment, including proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pet(s) to stray or become feral.” For cats, this means keeping us indoors or allowing us supervised time outdoors on a leash or harness or in a cat-proof enclosure (i.e. a catio).
  • “Advance preparation to ensure the pet(s)’ well-being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.” Please don’t leave us behind if you have to evacuate our home in an emergency. What if you can’t get back to the house right away? What will happen to us?

These are only a few of the guidelines. There are many more. Please read through the rest of them. You can find them here: AVMA’s Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership.

So, do you pass the test of being a responsible pet owner? Don’t despair if you don’t. But do work toward correcting the areas that need correcting. What things do you need to work on? Do you think anything else should be on the list? Feel free to share your thoughts.

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