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About Pet Cats

How Much Hair Do Cats Shed?

All cats shed hair, and long-haired breeds shed a lot, even when regularly groomed. As a cat likes nothing better than curling up on chairs, beds, etc, the hair tends to get everywhere. If this is going to be a problem for you, you definitely need to opt for a short-haired breed with minimal shedding. The best breeds for this are also the best ones for people with allergies, for obvious reasons.

Check out the list in the Best Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds section of this guide for more information.

Most cat breeds shed hair including this Kurilian Bobtail Longhair cat
Cats shed hair, and this Kurilian Bobtail Longhair is certainly no exception

Is My Home Suitable For A Cat?

Aside from the issues of allergies, young children and other pets, you need to make a sensible decision on whether your current living situation will make a happy habitat for a new cat. Rented accommodation often has a clause in the contract forbidding pets, so the first thing to do is check your tenancy agreement or contact your landlord directly to see whether there is a problem with keeping a cat.

A small apartment is generally less suitable for a cat than a place with a garden. Cats thrive when there is plenty of space. Indoor cats tend to be irritable, unpredictable, and prone to weight-gain. You can give an indoor cat the experience of outside with an outdoor cat enclosure. There are, however, some breeds that thrive on the indoor life - see the Indoor and Outdoor Cats sections of this guide.

Will a Cat Solve my Mouse Problem?

The traditional purpose of a household cat is to catch mice and rats. If you have rodents living in your buildings – and it’s a commoner fact than most people like to admit – a cat will usually hunt the small furry things, and will generally act as a deterrent. If the mice are not too well established, the very presence of a cat might persuade them to relocate.

Having said that, some cats are better mousers than others. The old folk tales about royal households paying thousands for good mousers, or 14th century London Mayor Dick Whittington making his fortune on the back of his cat’s mousing skills, are all based on the fact that some cats are natural born mousers. And some are not! The over-fussed Persian who spends all day on her soft cushion is not going to be as efficient in the battle against rodents as the lean, mean rescue cat who learnt her skills in the school of hard knocks.

Cats and mice
Cats and mice - it's one of the oldest stories in the pet story book

Cats and Kids

Owning a cat is a great way to teach your kids important skills like responsibility, respect and patience. They are a great first pet for the family because they are low maintenance and easy to care for. Your cat will trust your children, as long as she’s not afraid of them. The key point here is that it’s the kids, rather than cat, who need the training. See the Cats and Children section of this guide for more information.

Cats and cuddles - cats are therapeutic
Cats and cuddles - a type of feline therapy

Therapeutic Cats

There is plenty of evidence to prove that cats are actually good for us. Stroking them helps us relax and de-stress, releasing feel-good hormones. A bit like a good cuddle, in fact. For this reason they are frequently used in therapy sessions in old folks’ homes and with dementia patients, as well as children with conditions such as autistic spectrum disorder. Trauma victims have been shown to benefit from the feline treatment too.

Cats and Toxoplasmosis

Many owners who are planning a family give their cats away, for fear of toxoplasmosis. This is an illness brought on by the microorganism Toxoplasma gondii, and can cause illness in children if the mother is infected while pregnant. Unfortunately, the danger posed by cats in the transmission of this illness has been exaggerated. They can ingest the organism by eating contaminated flesh (in a wild rodent, for example), and the disease can be contracted from their droppings. But you cannot catch it by simple contact with the fur or saliva of a cat, only the droppings.

The commonest cause of infections in humans comes from contaminated soil, unwashed vegetables and undercooked animal products. The best protection is to avoid gardening without gloves and, likewise, to wear gloves when cleaning the litter tray - or, better still, get someone else to clean out the litter tray. Making sure everyone washes their hands is important too.

If you are worried about this problem, speak to your medical practitioner.

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