When you bring a cat home, be prepared for lifestyle changes.
You know how sometimes the same thing comes up over and over again, like a mini Groundhog Day? This week’s motif was centred around cats at home. First, there was the lady who wrote to ask how to keep her cat off the sofa. Then there was the man who asked how to stop his cat bothering him when he was busy with his SOHO (small office/home office). Finally, there were the girls who asked if I could give them tips on how to keep a clean home with cats and kids.
It got me thinking: Are catty homes different than other homes?
A lot of people spend half their day at the office but I’m someone who spends almost all of her days at home. I work from there so, apart from short trips to the market and the pub plus the occasional lunch, you’ll find me indoors.
Target and Guido love it. Target spends most of the day on my desk, most of the evening next to me on the sofa, and all night on the pillow next to mine. We could be said to be joined at the hip. Guido is out and about more but he spends at least half, if not three-quarters, of his day with me.
So for me my home is defined by all of us being together. I wouldn’t dream of trying to keep a cat off the sofa because cats are three-dimensional animals. They climb trees (or cupboards) and lounge in tall places (rocks, branches, sofas, tables) so they can keep an eye on their territory. Asking a cat to stay off the sofa is like asking me never to sit on a chair. It’s just impossible.
As for being disturbed by a cat while I’m working: I don’t have that. We live together and when someone wants a cuddle, he tippy-toes on my desk and we have a few minutes of furry-purry head butts. Who could complain of being loved?
There is that thing where a cat’s paw might stand on the reset button but we’ve fixed that: I’ve taped a box over the keyboard.
The hygienic house question was more complex. Frankly, I’m not the tidy sort. There are books, magazines and papers on every surface. I tidy up every now and again but that reveals clean areas that seem to attract more books. I think my home crosses L-Space, a dimension that connects every library and book depository in the universe. All the books that go missing in some other universe end up in my place.
There’s also cat hair. We vacuum but within 10 minutes a fine pattern of ginger fur will reassert itself. I can’t say it bothers me. When I go out, I check myself for fur. The laundry is always clean but as I’m a total dimwit, I often hug and kiss the cats goodbye before I go, thus decorating my tidy look with fur. I keep a roll of cellotape in my bag to tape off any stray fur.
As many friends and colleagues are cat and dog people too, the tape comes in useful all the time.
One issue is that when I replaced our old sofa last year, I was so tempted by a totally unsuitable purple creation with gold trimming and embedded “diamonds” that I foolishly went the other way and picked a plain slate grey alternative. It’s great but as Target and Guido are ginger, every hair shows.
I kicked myself when I realised what I’d done but I don’t mind too much. I “brush” the sofa every morning with a moist hand. It’s an easy way of picking up the fur so we look respectable.
As for the bed, we wash the sheets every couple of days so I’m not too fussed about a few stray strands of fur. It would be different if the cats were dirty but they’re inoculated, flea-free, worm-free, tick-free and they spend half their waking time washing. As I said to the girl who asked about kids and cats, I suspect Target and Guido are a lot cleaner than the average two-year-old human.
As for litter trays and smells, well, if you treat a little tray as you would a toilet, by scooping when it’s used and replacing the sand on a regular basis, then there is no odour.
As for strong-smelling male cats, you prevent that by neutering at six months. If you don’t neuter, you will have a smelly boy cat as well as fights, kittens and all sorts of other problems. Neutering and spaying is a must, no two ways about it.
I answered all the questions as they came in, but having thought about it, I think next time I’ll give everyone the same response: Living with cats is a choice, like living with children or a partner. There will be mess, they will get into everything and it will be inconvenient at times. It’s up to you to balance the pros and cons and to make your own decision. If you want a super-clean home, if stray fur upsets you, or you can’t face a litter tray, then don’t adopt a cat. You can always get your kitty fix by checking Facebook.