Paul has owned cats and has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in our domesticated feline friends.
Sharing your home with a furry feline friend comes with both advantages and disadvantages. While cats can be affectionate, playful, comforting, and relatively low-maintenance, they can also scratch up your couch, shed hairs over your carpet, and urinate or defecate inside your home.
Some of the ups and downs of cat ownership are outlined in short in this table. Each is then discussed in more detail below.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cat Ownership
They can be low-maintenance
They can be affectionate
Their litter boxes are smelly and must be cleaned regularly
They are entertaining
They damage furniture
They may help control pests
Many people are allergic to them
They are cute when young
Veterinary care is expensive
They don't require that much space
They may kill small animals
You don't have to walk them
They are strong-willed
They vomit occasionally
They may scratch or bite
They may wake you up
They can be very vocal
They can get fleas
The Benefits of Owning a Cat
Adopting a cat can be a great choice. If you're up for the responsibility, they can make fantastic long-term companions. Here are some of the upsides to owning a cat.
1. They Can Be Low-Maintenance
As long as you change their litter box regularly and give them enough food and water, your cat will do fine. This is not to say you shouldn't spend quality time with your purring pal—you should! But cats are independent animals, and they definitely don't need constant supervision. You can even go away for a weekend without having to hire a pet sitter. Cats are good at cleaning and entertaining themselves.
2. They Can Be Affectionate
When they're in the mood, cats can be very loving. Stroking a cat has been shown to have a calming effect and reduce stress. A curled up, purring kitty on your lap will make you feel good even when nothing else can.
Time spent with cats is never wasted.
— Sigmund Freud
3. They Are Entertaining
It's fun to watch your feline frolic and see some of the strange positions they adopt when they relax. They are also very playful animals. They will chase almost anything that moves. For extra fun, give them some catnip.
4. They May Help Manage Pests
One of the reasons that humans domesticated cats was to help control the populations of invasive rodents and other pests. Many domestic cats still enjoy the thrill of the hunt, killing rodents, insects, and other small animals both indoors and out.
5. They Are Adorable as Kittens
Their wide eyes, soft furry bellies, and pleading mews will melt even the meanest of hearts. They won't be a kitten forever, but it's lovely while it lasts, so enjoy every minute of it!
6. They Don't Require a Lot of Space
A lot of cats are happy to live in a (relatively) small house or apartment, as long as there is a source of warmth and a window from which they can watch the world. Most cats enjoy exploring the outdoors as well. Many individuals who reside in smaller dwellings allow their cats to venture outside so that they don't feel cooped up.
7. They Don't Require Walks
Unlike dogs, you don't need to take cats for regular walks. Most cats exercise themselves for entertainment, and those that are allowed outside tend to be fairly active.
The Drawbacks of Owning a Cat
Many first-time cat owners don't realize that adding a feline to their family may have unexpected consequences. Here are some of the downsides of owning a cat.
1. They Shed a Lot
If you choose to bring a cat into your home, be prepared for its hair to get everywhere, including but not limited to your furniture, carpet, clothes, tables, and countertops. Once you adopt a cat, your cleaning schedule may need some tweaking.
2. Their Litter Boxes Smell and Require Cleaning
Cats' urine and excrement are notably stinky, and their toilet is a litterbox, so it doesn't flush. If you want a cat, you need to be able to live with this. Be prepared to clean out the litterbox regularly. Depending on their habits, outside cats may require less frequent litter changes.
3. They May Claw Your Furniture to Shreds
Yes, you can get your cat a scratching post and try any number of methods to dissuade them from scratching the things you care about, but in all likelihood, they will still damage your furniture. If you're lucky, they'll stop there.
4. They May Deter Some People From Visiting Your Home
A surprisingly large amount of people have cat allergies, and some folks are even cat-phobic. This may affect your social or romantic life, especially if you like having people over to your place.
5. Their Veterinary Bills Can Be Very Expensive
If your cat gets sick or injured, you'll have to take them to the vet, and regular checkups are also a must. Veterinary bills have been known to cost some people a small fortune.
6. They Are Natural-Born Killers
Expect the bird population in your neighborhood to plummet if you let your cat outside. There's also a decent chance your ferocious feline will bring dead mice and lizards into your home. Are you prepared to accept these morbid gifts?
Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.
— Joseph Wood Krutch
7. They Are Strong-Willed and Rarely Obey Commands
Have you ever heard the expression "it's like herding cats?" Unlike dogs, most of which can be easily trained, cats usually have a will of their own and don't tend to listen to orders or commands.
8. They Will Vomit Occasionally
Cats sometimes get sick, and you're the one who has to clean it up. Cats vomit for a number of reasons. Most of the time it's hairball-related. Sometimes it's because they ingested or tasted something non-toxic that they really shouldn't have, or perhaps your wild kitten ran around too much after bingeing. In any case, you'll be on cleanup duty.
FYI: Most of the time, vomiting in cats is not problematic. However, if you are seeing frequent piles of foamy vomit or regurgitated or undigested food, you'll want to go see a vet.
9. They May Scratch or Bite People
In addition to scratching furniture, cats often scratch and bite people. They may do so accidentally when leaping into or out of your lap or purposefully when you do something they don't like (e.g. stroke their belly when they are not in the mood). If you do adopt a cat, be prepared to incur the occasional bite or scratch mark.
10. They May Wake You Up While You're Sleeping
Cats' sleep schedules are unusual—they may wake you up late in the night or early in the morning. Cats don't seem to care for people sleeping when they are not. If you bring one into your home, be prepared for some rude awakenings.
11. They Are Very Vocal When They Want to Go In or Out
When your cat is inside, it will meow until you let it out. When it's outside, it will meow to be let back in. Unless you have a cat-flap, expect to be on doorman duty multiple times each day. In some cases, you might stand there for ages waiting for the cat to decide where it wants to be. This is less of an issue for those with indoor-only cats.
12. They Often Get Fleas
When it comes to cats, catching fleas is relatively easily, but getting rid of them is often difficult and expensive. Be prepared to battle fleas multiple times throughout your cat's life.
Additional Facts About Cats
- A typical cat will sleep between 13 and 14 hours per day on average. They spend 70% of their lives asleep.
- They are the most popular pet in the USA, outnumbering dogs by 88 million to 74 million.
- A group of cats is called a clowder.
- Male cats are called toms. Females are called queens or mollies.
- Domesticated cats have been around since 3,600 B.C.
- Adult cats only meow to communicate with humans, not with other cats. They meow at the pitch of a human baby to attract attention when they are hungry, or want something.
- Killing cats was against the law in ancient Egypt. (It's also against the law in modern-day America.)
- They can hear much higher sound pitches than humans. While humans can hear frequencies of up to 20 kHz, cats can hear frequencies of up to 64kHz. This helps them to locate rodents and other small animals when hunting.
Cats are the runes of beauty, invincibility, wonder, pride, freedom, coldness, self-sufficiency, and dainty individuality—the qualities of sensitive, enlightened, mentally developed, pagan, cynical, poetic, philosophic, dispassionate, reserved, independent, Nietzschean, unbroken, civilised, master-class men.
— H. P. Lovecraft
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Would you say it is worth having a cat, despite the number of cons?
Answer: Cats can make warm and affectionate companions. They are relatively independent, keep themselves clean, deter rodents and other pests, and can help to reduce stress. If advantages such as these outweigh the cons for you, then you should probably get a cat.
© 2017 Paul Goodman
Anonymous on July 17, 2020:
Hi, thank you for this article. I have learned a lot, and hopefully this will convince my parents to get a cat.
Neha Chaudhary on June 20, 2020:
Most of the cons you mentioned come with human children and even worse. So could you write an article on not having babies?
Kat on June 18, 2020:
What a stupid list of pros and cons. You are not that bright, I hope people dont take this "article" helpful.
Susan Ng Yu on June 05, 2020:
I have 5 cats, and I confess that they've scratched up our sofa and decorated everything with fur. But I have to say that I've seen worse from human kids.
Lonewolf5431 on May 22, 2020:
Helped with school! Thank you
Kats r good on May 05, 2020:
Why’s there a H P Lovecraft comment in a sight for cats?
sheraz on March 01, 2020:
thanks for the info :)
SkittyFan09 on December 05, 2019:
this helped with school a lot
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 10, 2019:
Insightful article. I love kittys no matter how much a fuss they are to take care of...worth it.
Plus as you say...they pretty much take care of themselves.
ben on June 20, 2019:
im begging my mom to get a cat she keeps saying no whats another way to convince ur mom she says they wreck the house to much
YENZOKUHLE DLAMINI on June 13, 2019:
does a cat have asthma
thank you on May 17, 2019:
thank you so much i have more hope of convincing my parents to get a cat for me
Somebody on April 14, 2019:
Hopefully I can convince my parents now!
JEFFFYYYYYYYYYYyyyyyy on April 10, 2019:
hi im Jeffy and this help me so much thank you and goodbye
red room on April 08, 2019:
Shley on April 08, 2019:
very very helpful i get to do a thing and this help with pros and cons THANK YOU
Red room on April 03, 2019:
this is helpful
Yay! on March 31, 2019:
I can now use this website to persuade my parents! Still can't get over the fact that we have a husky though... They keep saying that my husky will fight with the cat, so they're hesitant...
Random person you dont know on March 29, 2019:
This help me alot with a school project thanks
-Random person you dont know
a person on March 27, 2019:
Thanks, this helped me in school
Isabella on March 27, 2019:
Thanks for this! My family and I are preparing to adopt a kitten soon. I never owned a cat before besides caring for our clients cats during there stay at my prior jobs boarding center. However, I do remember playing with this stray male cat when I was younger because he always came to our house the same time, everyday to cuddle. Literally wanted nothing else. I'm learning that I love cats and dogs equally but I have a slight suspicion that I may be more of a cat person than I thought I was. I'm doing more research and making sure we prepare accordingly to propery care for our new furry friend. Wish us luck!
Oof on March 15, 2019:
i liked this and it helped me with a school s.a thank you
lola on March 05, 2019:
love this! wish i had a cat! :(
Somebody on February 21, 2019:
I have a cat.
Hailey on February 11, 2019:
I love having my cat and all of this is pretty accurate.
fiona on January 16, 2019:
i never knew that
on January 10, 2019:
Diane on January 03, 2019:
If my significant other told me I had to choose between him and my cat, I would tell him I was sorry it didn't work out as I helped him pack his bags. if you can't love a little fuzzy kitten, you can't love anyone. And if you don't care that your spouse loves a fuzzy little kitten, you don't care about about anybody but yourself.
After showing that sad sack the door, I'd give my little guy an extra can of tuna as a thank you for saving me the many years of my life I would have wasted on that loser. And he would respond by squealing and rubbing his face all over my stinky feet. Now THAT'S love.
Eliene on December 15, 2018:
I love animals with all my heart . Cats and dogs are my favorite but I love them all even reptiles . Unfortunately I am married with a man that dont like cats . I had a cat before married him and I had to leave with my sister because after we married he didn’t want the cat , today my son is the only one we have and he always ask me for a pet . We have a dog but he is allergic to dander, so he can’t play with him . I want get a cat to him and for me but I can’t because my husband . It is so sad how people don’t like certain animals , especially cats which are so easy going . I’m sooo sad. I suffer from depression and I feel so lonely and he don’t see that . I have been ask for cat for awhile but he gets mad and offend me . I’m tired of this . People out there , enjoy your life , have a animal to be part of your life , they are better than us , they are loyal , caring and they don’t hurt your feelings . I hope that one day my son can be able to have a pet where he can call a friend and companion .
on December 10, 2018:
Extremely helpful to me
Name on November 26, 2018:
thank you so much
lazer meep on November 03, 2018:
Ramya on September 25, 2018:
Helpful to me
Popatochisps on August 20, 2018:
Useful info for debating
Student X on October 04, 2017:
I found this article very helpful whilst researching the Pros and Cons of owning a pet/cat. thank you.
Angelique on July 05, 2017:
isnt it true that cats are the only animals on the planet that have domesticated themselves?