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The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Cats

Maybe they’re not man’s best friend, but cats can be great pets for guys living in the city. You’d think a Guy’s Guy would want a dog. Yes, I can see myself walking along a riverbank with my trusted black lab at my side. But city life is a different ballgame for canine ownership. And I’m not sure I have the time or the right environment to offer a dog the great life it deserves. Plus, I’ve seen hundreds of dog owners huddled in the rain, picking up their dog’s poop with a plastic sandwich bag. I always tell myself, no way Jose. If I move out of the city, I’ll consider a dog. For right now, if I’m going to have a pet, it will be a cat. When I first moved to NYC, I owned a cockatiel who lived in an open cage for many years, but that’s another story.

A few years ago, my wife and I discussed adopting a rescue cat from one of the city shelters. We spent a Sunday traversing private and public agencies, meeting people who loved cats, and felines of all varieties and ages. My criterion for adoption was simple. I did not want a cat that was too old. I’d never owned a cat from birth so I wanted a kitten less than two years old and not one of a pair. There are many older cats with siblings that need homes. I will consider a mature cat or even two cats next time, but I wasn’t an experienced cat owner, so I did nomt feel comfortable taking on more than I could handle. My second deal breaker was that the feline up for adoption did not scratch me.  And that become a problem. The first three cats my wife liked for some reason immediately scratched me, so they were eliminated. Finally we stopped at the Bid A Wee on the East Side. As I approached the front door a small cat was staring directly at me through the window. She quietly followed us around and ultimately turned out to be the one that we took home. Sooki has been with us for close to three years now and this is what I have learned from her.

Cats are affectionate. I assumed that I would drop her into her litter box and that would be it. She’d roam the premises and do as she pleased, ignoring my wife and I unless she was hungry. Then she would make a deposit in the litter box and take a nice long nap under the window as the sun filtered in. Boy, was I wrong. Sooki, like all cats, need attention and love. They might not show it in as profound a way as a dog, but they do crave your love and touch. Sooki greets us when we enter our apartment. I make sure to acknowledge her then and each morning. I say hi and stroke her head to let her know I appreciate her. She also sleeps at the foot of our bed. Whenever I am working on my computer, like right now, she sits quietly close by and takes a nap. And when I crash onto the couch to watch “Ray Donovan” or ESPN, she climbs up and looks me in the eye. I rub her head and she plops down against my side. I’m not sure every cat rolls like Sooki, but my girl needs and gives love.

Cats can be stinky. Unlike a dog, cats do their business in a litter box. You only have to drop them into it once and they know the drill. That’s the good news. The other side of the coin is that cats can get sloppy. Their piss smells awful and their poop needs to be scooped out deposited into the toilet promptly if you want to keep your place smelling good. I tried different of types of litter and found that Feline Pine works well and lasts for about a week. There are a few tricks to keeping the stink quotient low when you own a cat. One is to keep a half lemon slice near the litter box. For some reason it absorbs the odor. The other is a stone called zeolite, which can be purchased online (I found it on Amazon). The stones costs about $30, but they absorbs virtually all of the kitty odors and they last a long time.  Beyond that, you have to change the litter box and disinfect the area on a regular basis. Anything less and your litter box quickly becomes a disaster area.

You don’t want a fat cat. Since cats are nocturnal creatures that also sleep close to eighteen hours a day, they can beef up rather quickly if they don’t get exercise and if they eat mass produced cat food. Similar to what humans are faced with when it comes to food choices, the good stuff costs more per serving, but goes a lot further when it comes to nutrition and good health. After deploying a wet (Newman’s Own Organics) and dry food (Orijens) combination each day, we noticed Sooki start to pack on the pounds after she graduated from her kitty stage. After some experimentation, we decided on giving her only dry food twice a day, and learned that she doesn’t eat as much since becoming an adult. So Sooki is relatively lean now and she’s healthy.

A cat is still a cat. Like any other female creature, Sooki likes having her hair combed and her nails done. We have a young son who likes to pull her tail or grab her face. Since she is a cat, Sooki has taken a token swipe at our little guy a few times, so I take her to a pet store to have her nails trimmed monthly. It costs ten bucks. I’ve found that this has made her more peaceful and less aggressive and jealous of him. But, I keep a watchful eye when our sixteen-month year old goes face to face with her. I’m certain that they will become good mates in a year or so.

What else can I say? A cat is not a dog, so you’re not going to take her hunting or for long runs on the beach. But if you live in the city and like having a loyal furry companion, owning a cat can be rewarding and if you adopt, you will be providing a home for a discarded animal.

There are thousands of cats that need a home. Have you ever considered rescuing a cat?

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are the staff at Bid A Wee shelter in New York City. They work tirelessly in the service of displaced animals. This is a great place filled with cats (and dogs) that need homes.