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post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Howdy! My name is Matt, and I'm a college student. At the end of this semester, I'll be moving to a new apartment that allows cats. I think cats are great, and I would like to get one. I really feel I can provide a good home for one. But I've never had a cat before, so naturally I have several questions which I hope the people on this site can help me with. (If my questions should be posted in a different forum, please point me there.)

1.) I am unfortunately mildly allergic to cats. Unless I'm doped up on antihistamine, I generally can't be around one for more than about two hours before my hayfever-like symptoms get so bad that I'm forced to go someplace else. What options are available to me to reduce or eliminate my allergic reactions, and how expensive are these options? (I know allergies like mine might be a deal-breaker for many people, but I want to know my options.)

2.) My dad and brother also have cat allergies, so my family has always been a dog family. (We currently have a border collie named Samson, and used to have a bassett hound named Samantha, before she got a liver cancer.) As such, I know absolutely nothing about cat breeds or personalities. I know certain dog breeds, having been bred for specific tasks, often have certain personalities associated with them. Are there any cat breeds that I, as a new cat owner, should avoid based on breed temperament?

3.) I think I want to adopt a cat from a shelter, since I don't like the idea of them being euthanized. Plus, being a college student, I don't think I can afford to go to any other source. Is adoption from a shelter a good or bad idea for a new cat owner? What qualities should I look for in a cat from a shelter, or any cat, for that matter? (How do I make sure the cat is healthy, friendly, etc.?)

4.) Being new to owning a cat, would it be better/easier to get a kitten, or an adult cat? What kind of training is involved for kittens?

5.) Would it be better/easier for a person like me to get a male cat, or a female one? Also, is it a good idea to have a cat neutered/spayed, or does that mess with their personality too much?

Thanks in advance for the help.

post #2 of 16
Welcome, Matt! I just realized how stupid that sounded.

First of all, I'm certain you will get lots of advice here.

Allergies: That's a tough one. You can only go to your doctor and talk to him/her about it. One of the worst things you could do in my opinion is to take a cat in only to find out you can't keep it and have to uproot the kitty again. I can tell you that I was allergic also - sneezing,etc and still am to some degree but over the years my body adjust, but you need to understand I cannot remember a time when I didn't have a cat in my life. Also I have a severe reaction if they scratch me (itches so bad that I want to tear my skin off). It's worth the suffering for me. You might feel differently.

If you decide you can get a cat, I vote for a shelter cat. There are so many different cats to choose from, but as you pointed out buying from a breeder is expensive. I'm probably going to be slammed here, but unless you want a real active cat, I would stay away from any Siamese mix. They are very vocal and little monkeys. I've always have very good luck with just plain ole tabby cats. Yes - get them fixed. It does calm them down a little but they are still active. Eventhough adopting an older cat is very nice, I would start out with a first cat as a kitten. They are not hard to train. Most of the time, they will know how to use the litter box before you even get to bring it home. They do like to climb and you will need to train it to use a scratching post. There is double sided sticky tape you can put on furniture to train them not to scratch it.

I hope this helps and I hope you can get some relief for your allergies so you can get a kitty!
post #3 of 16
Hello Matt, welcome to the site.
post #4 of 16

Hi! My name is Bobbie, and I am not an expert, but I would just like to welcome you here. There are lots of people here who can help with your questions.
post #5 of 16
Hi and welcome to the site.
post #6 of 16
Since you are unsure about your allergies...I would recommend adopting through a rescue group that would be willing to take the cat back if it didn't work out.

post #7 of 16
Welcome to the site Matt! Good for you for researching your options before committing to taking in an animal.

I can tell you that Zyrtec works for a lot of people with animal allergies. If the allergy is mild, you might develop an immunity to your own cat(s), particularly if you get a kitten and it grows up with you. Kittens aren't as allergenic as adult cats for some reason. Maybe someone knows the reason why.

Adopting a cat from a shelter is a great idea! As far as personalities, they are all individuals. Most shelter cats won't be any breed, just mixed breed. Talk with the staff for a better idea about what types of personalities the kitties they have, have.

Training...well, the hard parts with dogs are the easy parts with kitties. They naturally want to bury their waste, so using the litterbox isn't an issue. They are also very clean by nature. The things you may want to "train" your cat (staying off counters, etc.), well...you basically have to make it seem like it's the cat's idea. Cats are not like dogs, they do NOT respond to negative reinforcement. They do not have a pack-mentality, so they don't want to please the alpha like dogs do. It is a totally different mentality that you have to take with a cat.

After you adopt a cat, the first thing you should do is take it to a vet to get it checked out. Many times shelter cats will have an upper resperatory infection (URI) or kitty-cold. Some antibiotics from the vet will usually clear that right up IF kitty has that. Also, if you adopt from a shelter you may not have a choice with spay/neuter. Regarless, it is a very good idea to spay or neuter your kitty. Two reasons: first is that un-neutered cats have some very annoying and sometimes destructive behaviors (i.e. yowling in heat for females, spraying urine for males) and they will definitely try to escape to get out and mate and inevitably get into fights. The other reason is because it is definitely the responsible thing to do so you are not contributing to the overpopulation problem we currently have in the world. It won't do anything to their personality, particularly if you get it done before they reach sexual maturity (approximately 6 months old), but it will definitely avoid some unwanted behaviors and aggressiveness..
post #8 of 16
Hi, Sierra and I welcome you to TCS, Matt! So glad you joined us! How wonderful that you're wanting to adopt a new kitty into your family, hope we are able to help you with all your questions! I would be so happy to help you in any way as you learn your way around the site. Please, simply click on my user name and send me a Private Message!
post #9 of 16
Welcome to TCS. Do you also have litter allergies as well? Shelter cats are generally not free but usually do come with a follow up vet visit, at least here they do.

Be sure to give your kitty a good looking over before committing. If there are any signs of bad health or other future problems (our cat came with a broken tooth we did not notice), being that your going to be trying to keep expenses down, keep looking.

You may want to consider getting some sort of cat bed or house and getting the kitten or cat trained to sleep there vs your pillow or bed, if thats possible for you. Air filters are also a good thing.

Good luck! Cats do make wonderful pets and companions, but they are defintly a commitment because they can live 15-20+ years if they are indoor cats.
post #10 of 16
Welcome Matt!

Looks like everyone else has already answered your questions so I will just say WELCOME.
post #11 of 16
Hi & Welcome to TCS!!!!!!!
post #12 of 16
Hello and welcome!!!

post #13 of 16
post #14 of 16
I can attest that allergies can indeed go away with prolonged exposure. I was quite allergic to cats at one time too, with itchy eyes, wheezing, etc.

I ended up having a roomate (with cat) and my allergies lessened over time, then all symptoms went away. (More on that later).

I've had a cat now for 8 years, and have had no problems with allergies at all (to the kitty, that is, the flea medicine is another story)

I'd suggest a short-haired cat, and the suggestion from someone else to rescue a kitty with the understanding that you may have to take him or her back if your allergic reactions aren't manageable is a good one.

Here's another piece of advice, and I can't say whether it works or not, and if so, why. I really did go through the following ordeal, on the advice of an Apache Medicine man's grandson: Eat a jar of dark mustard in as short a time as possible. For me, it took almost a full day to get it all down, one teaspoon at a time. Darned if my cat allergy symptoms didn't start going away almost immediately.

Yeah, that last bit sounds crazy. Who knows why certain things work though?
post #15 of 16
Bievenido (welcome) Matt!
Congrats on your choice in new pets. You will not find a more devoted group of cat lovers than here at TCS. We all look forward to hearing about the pet that chooses you and would love to see pictures of the little darling when you have them available!
Good luck with school as well!
post #16 of 16
Hi Matt, welcome to TCS!!
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