What Is The Worst Thing About Owning A Cat?

What Is The Worst Thing About Owning A Cat?

worst thing about owning a catworst thing about owning a cat
worst thing about owning a catworst thing about owning a cat

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Cats bring tons of joy, love, and companionship in to our lives. But they can also bring other “stuff”. There is always bad with the good.

So…Dr. Debra tossed out a poll a few weeks ago and asked cat lovers – What is the worst thing about owning a cat. The goal is NOT to deter anyone from getting a pet but to be educated about the pros and cons to make sure a cat is the right fit for them.

Over 5,800 cat lovers responded and the results were as follows:

What is the worst thing about owning a cat? %
Cat hair 15
Inappropriate urination or spraying 13
Destroying/scratching furniture 12
Having to scoop the litter box 10
Cost of medical care 10
Other answer 10
Litter box odors 10
Waking you up 6
Finding location for litter box 4
Loud meowing 3
Wanting to go outside 3
Cost of cat food 2
Allergies to cat 2
Other pet odors 1

There was a large number that said other. These were the responses:

Other “worst things about owning a cat” that was not on the list

  • rochelle hamblin – People who did not vote on inapprop. elimination or spraying must never have had this problem. They can destroy floors with pee!
  • Sue – Cat fur is the worst, do not wear black or any type of fleece! No matter how much you brush them & vacuum, cat hair is a major problem on all the family’s clothes.
  • Marjan Swantek – I vacuum,brush,comb hair, but my current Rescue from PHS sheds more than any other cat I’ve had! I have cat hair on me wherever I sit & I’d like 2 find something that would help with the shedding???? She eats DRY food (won’t touch wet) tho, we share Yogurt B4 bedtime. She drinks lots of water & creates clumps well. Teeth seem OK & she uses her litter box. She’s 6 yrs old & we R Both Srs. so we R good company! MY last cat (a Cymric, I bred from 2 SH Manx) lived 26 yrs. & died in his sleep of heart failure. SamMe, my current cat is a plushy Domestic Shorthair (Patched Tabby & White) with thick hair, & we live in SoCal where it IS Warmer Weather, most of the time! I’d shed, 2!
  • Mimi Sabo- Our one male cat, a large tabby, is outside for about four to six hours a day in good weather because that’s where we found him four years ago, starving. We had him spayed and kept him in most of the time, but he was miserable inside with our other cats and dog, so we let him out on nice days. The terrible part about this is that there are other male strays and other outdoor cats in our area and they fight constantly. I find that so nervewracking, however, if he is always kept in, he wrecks the furniture…..so it’s the lesser of two evils ……. maybe.
  • Mnfurball – Other than cat hair and urinating outside of a litter box, the worst possible thing is having to say Goodbye when the end of their life is near. I can put up with a lot and have had floors ruined, walls torn up, tomcats spraying walls and starting fires, but the worst part, for me, is their death.
  • Marsha – My daughter and I have taken in and spay or neutered 30 cats. We have kept some or found homes for them. I wish I could afford to do this with every cat I see outside. I also wish cat owners would spay or neuter their pets. Cat owners should also keep their cats INDOORS. There is no reason for a cat to be outside. Cats are perfectly happy inside. There are terrible things that could happen to them. People are the one thing cat owners should fear. There are a lot of people who don’t like cats. Guess what happens when they find yours? I have heard or experienced such horrible things due to the hatred or stupidity of people. Feral cats make wonderful pets. I took in one cat that would try to bite or scratch me and would growl or hiss for 9 months. She is one of my sweetest and friendly cats I have now. After they have been taken to a vet and checked out they seem to be healthier than other cats. At least that has been my experience. Even after having lived outside for part of their life they are very happy to remain indoors.
  • Carol I solved the “inappropriate urinating” problem with my two kitties by (1) adding a third litter box and (2) being scrupulous about cleaning out the litter twice a day. They’re short-haired brothers, and they shed very little — I think because I brush them regularly and also because I feed them on schedule and don’t leave food out for them between mealtimes. (Try it for a month and see if it makes a difference to the health of your cat’s coat.)
  • Debbie S. I totally agree with Mnfurball. I have two human children and three human grandchildren, whom I love dearly, but my cats are with me 24/7 and I have raised them since kittenhood. They are all geting older, as am I, the youngest being 8 and the oldest being almost 20. I lost one of my “babies” on June 28, 2008 (she was a diabetic and her kidneys were slowly failing; I was treating her, of course). Soon after she died God gave me the opportunity to love and take care of a 19 year old Persian, who had been living in a cage in a garage for no telling how long. She had to be shaved because she was in such horrible condition. I was told that she would only live approximately 6-9 months, but my wonderful vet discounted that and said she should live at least 2-3 years. She is now a beautiful kitty and has joined our family. My oldest cat has thyroid problems and the beginning of bladder issues. I have opted not to do surgery or medicate her because of her age and the fact that she gets totally freaked out if she has to leave the house, and medicating her could bring on side effects that I don’t want her to go through. So, as difficult as it is, I’m just loving her and doing what I can to make the rest of her life comfortable. I can live with the issues of inappropriate litter box usage (or really, non-usage) as they get older and having four cats on three different special diets, as well as learning to give fluids and diabetic injections twice a day, not to mention some of the other problems mentioned in the survey that really do occur. The very worst thing absolutely is when you have to make a decision to let them go, even when you know it’s for the best; or even of having them die at home. You grieve as you would when a human family member dies. We have to remember that we, as well as their animal brothers and sisters, do go through this process and come out better poeple for having known and loved our wonderful kitties.
  • Betty Schmidt – My Cat Sam is a lovely short-haired cat we adopted from an animal shelter 3 years ago. And yes cat hair is a major problem. So try not to wear things that it shows on very much. The early morning wake up’s actually bother me more than the cat fur. He is up between 4 and 5 a.m. and he won’t rest until I get up. When we lived in our house with a big yard he wanted to go outside all the time. I would only let him out if I was with him and kept him in a pretty contained area. Of course he didn’t like that idea. But we now live in a condo, with no yard to speak of, so don’t let him out at all. He will sit by the patio door’s and want to go so bad that it breaks my heart sometimes. But at my age, know I would never be able to chase him down and catch him. But for all the hair, the early rise and any other little problem I have with him, we love him to death and wouldn’t want to live with him now. Thank you for all your articles and vedios.
  • Jim – For five years we were blessed with an angel named Mooch, who never did any of the “bad” things connected with cats. He was a perfect house-guest who woke me up every morning as he sat by my side of the bed with his front paws in my slippers (and I loved it). I will never forget him. Mooch took much more than our food and drink…he stole our hearts. The worst thing about owning a cat (you never own them – they own you) is saying goodbye. Goodbye Mooch!
  • Lynn Graham – Many people have difficulty with shedding cats. After decades of being guardian to several cats, I finally found something that helps reduce shedding considerably: salmon oil added to their food on a daily basis. It really DOES reduce shedding, and makes their coats beautiful. Just 1/4 tsp. a day is plenty. I think the worst thing about being a cat guardian is worrying about their health, and then having to say goodbye when they die. I know I’m not alone in this…
  • Nancy – Saying good-bye to our special little felines is the worst part of cat ownership, however in the meantime, urinating outside the cat box is the biggest problem. I am a vet tech and have brought home 8 cats that were brought in to be put to sleep. All are loved dearly and well cared for but it is a full time job keeping them healthy and cleaning up after them.
  • Melissa Hutton – I think your poll might have been even more helpful if you had given readers the option of rating, say, what we feel out of your list are the 5 worst things about owning a cat on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst and 5 being the least offensive of the 5 worst problems. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
  • Trisha – Scooping the cat box is my least favorite cat mom chore, but I do it daily because I wouldn’t want to use a dirty box either. If you keep scratching posts available that will often deter furniture destruction. Declawing is cruel and unnecessary. I have several cats and they do not claw my furniture. Do not be alarmed if your cat throws up. Some cats throw up furballs, some never seem to. But, it is not a happy sound to be awakened by in the middle of the night. 🙂 [Also, be careful of any houseplants you have as many are poisonous to cats.] If you adopt an older cat, do not be dismayed if it hides for a few days. Kittens are usually outgoing but can get into mischief. You have to “kitten-proof” your home just like you would for a baby. But, they are so fun to watch, and can be so affectionate. The good thing is, they pretty much litter box train themselves. Also, if you get a kitten, they do lose baby teeth just like human babies do, and they teethe, too. Patience and knowledge are the keys to cat (or any pet) ownership. They are all special little beings and each has its own personality. You will be thrilled and amazed at how much they add to your life. So, yes, no matter the drawbacks, they are worth it. I wish you and your new cat a wonderful long life together.
  • Chris L- The worst part of owning a cat is when they die. Nothing can change the strong emotional bond between you and your favorite feline companion after 10 to 15 years.
  • Joy – My cat’s wake me magically at 5:30 am to use the potty and though I Would like to sleep longer, I cannot think of not having them (seven) around me. I rescued them from a rest area when they were newborns and discarded in a box to die last winter. I saved them from sure death and my just getting out of the hospital, losing my job and losing my home, they saved me. The small things they do to irritate me is nothing compared to the love they have brought into my life. If you have a heart and patience, get a kitty, they’ll change your world. Joy Brown
  • LEO STELLA – Would you ask this same question about a Child? All the options would apply.{:^)
  • Taffy – I own several cats of my own. I catch, spay or nueter and find homes for strays. The cat hair can get bad, but I bought a special vaccuum for my furniture made just for pet hair. I just would like to say to new cat owners, please brush you cat often and if you don’t like the cat hair keep a lint roller handy and a vaccuum. Please do not shave your cats thinking it will decrease the shedding. They are still going to shed, but now it’s going to be tiny little short hairs that will get into your skin. I work as a groomer and see people have their cats shaved because they became matted or because they thinks it’s cute. Cats are not meant to be shaved and it’s not cute, it seems to stress them out. Sorry if I offended anyone but I don’t agree with shaving cats, unless it’s for surgery.
  • Suzy the Sphynx Mom – Saying goodbye to one’s feline family member when one dies is by far the worst. Any of the other stuff may be inconvenient and even maddening, but cannot compare. Funny that the “other” section didn’t even show up in the tally! No surprise that others agree about when a cat dies (I checked “other” and wrote about the issue of dying!).
  • Candra Kubik – A lot of vets in NC are starting to give cats who mark or spray outside the litterbox meds for this problem. A lot of the meds that some vets give will make you cats sleepy. But I have had my cat on “prozac” (10mg cut into 1/4 tablet per dose) I give my cat it once a day (at night). I noticed a instant change and have not had any problems for 1 and 1/2 years. I have also moved in this time too! People should check into this before getting upset and spending the cats to the shelter or worse throw them out.
  • Camilla Bruce – I own 17 cats so I can put up with just about anything. I would not recommend having so many cats if you ever want to go anywhere for any length of time or are not ready to do everything for your animals and live around their schedule. My cats range in age from 3 months to 12 years and everything in between. Yours, the proverbial “crazy cat lady”.
  • Anil Bapat – We have a pair of male and female siblings, one and a half year old. They are mostly indoor, though I take them out for half an hour every day. They are the darlings of the entire household, i.e., my wife, two daughters and I. However, at times when we have allergies and health complaints (respiratory) we do not know if the cats are causing them. We request you to write a comprehensive article on likely sicknesses and allergies to owners of cats, the symptoms, precautions, remedies etc.
  • Alex – We absolutely adore our burmese “child”. While some of his habits can be a little annoying ( especially at some very early hour in the morning!) we couldn’t live without him, he is very much a part of the family. My only advice to future cat owners is to remember they are hopefully going to be with you for many years, and if you are not prepared to care for them completely, please don’t .
  • princessfiona60 – My problem is the one cat who loves me to distraction, I can’t make ANY move without her right at my side. I’m not allowed to do anything without her and if I leave the house my husband said she will howl for about an hour. Then she hides for most of the time I am gone and reappears when she hears me pull into the lot. Once I’m in the door she is constantly there. I swear I’ve tripped over her so many times, surprised I haven’t broken a bone. However, she makes my day, my life. Love her totally.
  • Aishah – I’ve had 5 or 6 cats over the years and have been fortunate enough not to experiencee spraying. They say if you get them spayed/neutered while they’re young spraying should not be a problem. I rescued my cats from a shelter when they were each about 2 years old and spraying has never been an issue (most shelters spay and neuter cats before letting you take them home). I feel bad for people that have to experience spraying but NOT ALL CATS SPRAY! I’ve talked to non-cat owners and some of them seem to be under the impression that all cats spray and there is nothing you can do about it. Carol was right on the money when she said she cleans out her litter box twice a day. Yeah it’s obnoxious but having your cat pee on your furniture or floors (cat pee smells like ammonia by the way) is much worse. I would add investing in good cat litter. I find that cheap litter does not trap odors as well.
  • Elida Shiry – I am the mother of seven beautiful fur babies. Cat hair used to be a problem. I would hide Miracle brushes, and Lint Rollers behind pillows in every location of our home. After receiving a grooming bill for over $350, I decided to purchase grooming sheers and shave my babies by myself. I had never handled professional grooming sheers in my life, so I started with the cat with the best temperament, and slowly learned the secrets. Today I can do all seven in 1 1/2 hours. I shave them at the beginning of every month and they love it. They purr, while I shave them. Their coats feel like velvet or chenille and there is no hair in my home.
  • Mfinn – I think the hardest thing with a cat is figuring out why they are acting inappropriatly. You can’t disipline a cat the way you can a dog…they don’t get that. So figuring out why they are pooping outside their litter, or why they are scared of a room or why they are overgrooming can be so frustrating. At the same time that makes you realize how much personality they really have. My cat started overgrooming b/c I went back to work. Not having me home all day was very stressful for her. Our other cat wouldn’t come out of our WIC in our new house because as it turns out, she was scared of the ceiling fan. Those who have cats know…they pack soooo much personality. Which for us has turned out to be great personalities, but there are always personalities that are not so good. So make sure you try to see the personlity before you adopt as much as you can at least.
  • RAC – IMO, all of these problems except cat allergies, can be handled by most people who have truly chosen to be pet owners. In many cases even the allergy situation can find happy resolution. However, they are all things that must be accepted as part of the responsibility of owning a cat. And this responsibility must be accepted BEFORE you accept the cat into your life. I urge every single person considering ANY pet to think about and discuss these two decisions before accepting a pet into their life. You’re in it for the long haul or you’re not ready to be a pet owner at all, IMO. I’ve had cats all my life. I’ve also had to deal with all these problems on the poll, to one degree or another, at some point. The key to dealing with these problems is commitment, involvement, education and lots of love and patience. If you can’t do that, for whatever reason (and many can’t and shouldn’t feel guilty if they can’t, but rather, accept it and take the situation from there) Behavior modification is a long and difficult road but it CAN be done. It does take a huge commitment on the part of everyone in the cat’s life and household though. Behavior modification DOES work though if the proper methods are employed AND the involvement in them are given completely and by all involved. Again, with lots of love and patience along with eyes wide open. Good poll though. All are aspects that must be considered when taking a cat into your life. I would love to see a condensed write up of the poll results and comments and have it made available in every possible place where cats are available for adoption AND also in vet’s offices, pet stores and so on. I feel that information and education are a big part of handling the choice to become a pet owner and also to then deal with any and all problems that arise as life goes on with your cat and you. Just understanding WHY a seemingly weird and “out of left field” behavior is happening can lower the stress factor in the human and help the modification process move forward. Oh, and for the people who think that spaying/neutering is the sole resolution of spraying, especially if it is done young, that’s not true. Not one bit. It’s a behavior problem. Been there, been through it and handled it….but not without a HUGE amount of work, commitment and love, love, love. Along with cleaning, cleaning, cleaning 🙂 I also heartily agree that cats should be kept indoors. There are all kinds of problems that don’t need to be a part of your cat’s life if they’re let outside. Even in an area where you KNOW no human will hurt them there are a myriad of problems. Having lived for several years in such an area we chose to NOT let any of our cats outside even though the human threats, cars, mean people and so on, were not in the picture. As for the loss of a pet, it’s so difficult. We lost TWO within 6 months in 2008. One was 15 and the other was 13. Although I’ve lost cats since I was a child it is NEVER easy. Allowing myself to grieve as much and as deeply and for as long as I need, along with that old healer called time, helps. I always know that part of the joy of having a cat in my life will be tempered with losing them at some point. The saddest thing for me is though, even though I’m only in my early 50s now, I know that if I have a cat when I leave this life that it will affect them and unlike humans they don’t understand that I’m not coming back home to them in this life. But then I also accept that all of this is the wonderful, wonderfully complex thing we call living! And with that said, to all of you here who have lost a pet recently, I will keep you in my thoughts. I’ve always found that the knowledge that other pet lovers who understand that we grieve the loss of a pet and that it hurts deeply, helps me. And I ignore those that are sadly not understanding of it. How sad for them to have never known the love of having a pet in their life.
  • lynn matthews – Cats are fantastic to have around. They are special creatures. The litter box is the biggest thing other than large vet bills. You have to clean the box out once to preferably twice a day. The litter gets tracked around the house. This is not your cats fault. They can’t help it because it gets stuck in their paws. It’s what you have agreed to live with should you decide to get a cat. Just vacuum a lot, and that will surely help. Get your carpets cleaned as often as possible. Cats are exteremly easy to train. I’ve had many cats during my fifty years, and I have never had a problem with any of them using the floor as a poddy place. It is totally and completely the owners responsibility to train the cat and keep that box clean! You may have to experiment with different types of litter. You may have to place the box in different areas of the house. Make sure the cat likes the litter and is happy about the location of the box. It’s up to the human to figure things out so every one is happy. Cats can live a long time so be prepared to have the animal for possibly two decades. Abandonment, neglect or any irresponsible actions taken against the cat is inexcusable and cruel. They need you and depend on you to take care of them. Dropping them off in some neighborhood just because your tired of taking care of them… is absolutely forbidden thing to do to any animal. They will be terrified and something really bad coud happen to them. So be sure you want to take care of this elegant and beautiful creature before you get one. They will love you for life. Me and my cats have an wonderfully loving and caring relationship. They need me as much as I need them. It’s a privilage and huge commitment to have a cat. It’s not some casual decision to make just because you feel like it at the time. You need to think of them like they’re furry children. They’re much easier to care for; however, there are many similarities in caring for pets vs kids.
  • sharon chiles – I have 5 cats of my own (indoor/outdoor) cats and 3 that are strays but just took up here and won’t leave. I think all the things are bad (spraying, scratching furniture, etc). I think the thing that bothers me the most is wanting to go in and out all the time. I feel like a doorman. I am constantly opening the door for my cats to go in and out. If you don’t let them out, a few of tem just won’t leave you alone until you do. Or the others will meow until you let them out. If they want in, they will scratch at the door until you open it. It gets very nervewracking. I wouldn’t take anything for my cats though. Especially for my 2 youngest ones (they are the babies and are spoiled (they know it to). Sherry
  • Barbara – Any of the problems listed are nothing in the overall joy of being owned by cats. I am 74 and have rescued many cats through the years; all have been spayed or neutered, had immunizations and have regular medical care. Yes, it is expensive, but I prefer to take care of God’s creatures rather than “shop” for un-needed items. They have given me more than I could ever give them. Saying “good-bye” is the hardest thing one must do and it must be done FOR the cat, not for the person who can tend to be selfish in wanting to let go. No, it won’t be easy but when you realize that there will be no more suffering, medications, treatments and lack of NORMAL cat life, you will know that you did the very best for your friend. God bless all cat lovers.The responses for dogs are different from what cat lovers wrote. Read: What is the worst thing about owning a dog? to see how dog lovers responded.
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