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Owning a cat: An honest review

The other day, someone found my blog by searching for “owning a cat: honest review”.

tuxedo cat

I’m guessing google sent them to my blog because I have a Dinnerly post that has the phrase “an honest review” in the title.

screenshot of blog search terms

I posted a screenshot of this search phrase on my Instagram because I thought it was funny, but several readers said that they would actually really appreciate a review post about owning a cat!

And I realized that when I was trying to decide if I wanted to own a cat, I would have loved to read an honest review of cat ownership.

Especially from someone who had a lot of hesitation about the idea.

cat lying on bed

So, here we are.

I’m an unlikely cat owner

tuxedo cat

I never in a million years anticipated that I would have a cat walking around my house.

(Please read the second paragraph in this post for embarrassing proof!)

I didn’t grow up with cats, for one thing.

cat sitting on cardboard

And I’ve never been a super animal-crazy person.

Also, I like things to be clean and neat.

To wit, when I first met Mr. FG, I told him that I did not ever, ever want to have a dog. That was a non-negotiable deal breaker to me; if you want a dog, then I am not the girl for you.


I didn’t have such strong feelings about cats, but I certainly did not anticipate owning one.

I previously said yes to caged pets

I might not be a huge animal lover, but 4/4 of my kids are.

So in the past, I’ve said yes to a number of caged pets.

We’ve had

  • fish
  • many hamsters
  • a guinea pig
  • lizards

And I had even consented to a tarantula (luckily, we ended up with a second lizard instead. Whew.)

However, Lisey really, really likes cats, and she really, really wanted to adopt one.

I was scared. And nervous. So many unknowns!

Things that scared me about cat ownership

cat sitting on the back of the sofa

Since I’d never owned an un-caged pet before, I had a lot of concerns.

I was worried that:

  • the cat would scratch our house up
  • the litter would smell up the house
  • cat hair would be everywhere
  • cat paraphernalia would take up a lot of space
  • it would be a lot of work to take care of a cat
  • we’d have to go to the vet a lot
  • a cat would be expensive
  • owning a cat would just be very inconvenient

How have my worries panned out?

tuxedo cat sitting in a cat bed

Well, I am happy to say that this has been way, way easier than I anticipated.

And in many ways, a cat is less work and less mess than a guinea pig (or even a hamster).

I was surprised!

The Scratching

Our cat was 7 years old when we adopted her, so she was already long past the super scratchy kitten phase.

I was worried she would scratch our leather furniture, but she hasn’t. She does scratch our doormats, but I don’t really care about that.

And when we first got her and she slept in Lisey’s room, she would scratch at the door trim when she wanted to be let in.

scratched door molding

But now that she sleeps by herself, she doesn’t scratch at the doors anymore.

Which means it is probably safe for me to sand and paint this door trim!

The Smell

I have been pleasantly surprised at how not smelly the cat has been.

We use Arm and Hammer Slide litter, and it is seriously good! As long as we scoop it every other day, the smell is very minimal.

This litter is more expensive than some, but it’s worth it in my book.

And the cat herself really does not smell.

(Unlike a dog. Ha.)

I really cannot emphasize enough how good this cat litter is. If smell is a problem, you really need to give this brand a try!

Cat Hair

Sonia brushing the cat

Shedding probably varies by breed, but it has not been bad with ours.

cat hair brush

Sonia keeps up on brushing her, which removes a lot of the hair. And the regular sweeping/vacuuming we do manages the rest of it.

Basically, we haven’t had to add more cleaning than we were doing before.

cat being brushed while sitting in a box

Space Issues

Since the cat has free roam of the house (obviously!), we don’t need a cage. So that’s a plus.

A litter container and a feeding station take up a lot less space than a big guinea pig cage.

cat lying on her back

Amount of Work

I think cats are less work than guinea pigs, mainly because scooping a litterbox is so much less work than changing bedding in a cage.

The Vet

We haven’t had to take our cat to the vet much at all; mainly we’ve taken her in for nail trimming.

Zoe and I did have one successful nail trimming session with her, but since then, we’ve just had unsuccessful attempts. So, we’ve decided to just pay the $15 every few months to get her nails trimmed.

At the vet, she’s so scared, she’s very subdued and she lets them trim her without complaint.

At home, she gets a little spicy when we try.

The Expense

Adopting our cat was free through the county animal shelter, so $0 there.

Vet costs have been minimal, as I mentioned.

We get free rabies shots through the animal shelter, so that’s another $0.

We get our litter and food delivered through Chewy, and I’d say that runs us about $150/year.

And a few times a year, we need to pay $15 to have her nails clipped.

Zoe snuggling the cat

Overall I’d say this is pretty affordable.

Of course, I imagine that as she gets older, we will have some more expenses, but for now it’s not bad at all.

The good parts of owning a cat

Lisey and the cat

I addressed my worries already, so I figured I should talk about the upsides of owning a cat.

She makes my girls very happy

This is the largest upside of cat ownership by far. The girls just adore the cat, and since they are happy, I’m happy.

I like to do things that bring joy to my kids!

Lisey holding a cat and wearing Bert socks

She’s a very social cat

I know some cats are loners, but our cat loves to be near people. She’s very attention-starved in the morning just from us sleeping all night with our doors shut.

Sonia with the cat

So, she’s fun to have around because she wants to be petted and scratched.

She makes us laugh

tuxedo cat eyes

She does funny things like making chirping sounds at birds, running around scared at nothing, batting at bookmark ribbons, and licking drink condensation.

She’s really sweet when someone is sick or sad

cat peeking around door

I don’t know exactly how she seems to know this, but she will often choose to go sit with someone who is not feeling well.

For instance, she rarely sits on Lisey’s bed during the day, but after Lisey had her wisdom teeth out, the cat stayed right beside her in bed for several days.

I don’t know if it’s just happenstance, but it IS very sweet.

In conclusion:

I’m really glad that I said yes to Lisey wanting a cat.

The joy she’s brought to our family has been worth the small amount of inconvenience.

tuxedo cat lying on a bed

That said, I am still holding firm on the No Dog policy. A girl has to draw a line somewhere.

How do you feel about cats?

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Saturday 13th of March 2021

$150 for food and litter sounds way too low. I pay $120/year for litter alone. Calculate quality food $1.50/day (no kibble, better raw food). Better food often means less vet costs. If kitty has something serious, vet costs can go into the thousands. But the love you can share with your purr-machine is priceless.


Saturday 13th of March 2021

I love your kitty. Very cute! I used to be more of a dog person (not much any more) but I honestly love all animals (not too big on reptiles, amphibians or snakes though). I used to pet-sit when I was a teen & I loved every minute of it.

I love my kitty a whole lot. His name is Vadim. A friend of mine found him all alone outside on a rainy August night & I went to go pick him up the following morning. His back right leg was broken & I was alarmed. He didn't seem like he was in any pain. We stopped at the vet & the vet said he was approx. 3-4 months old; no chip at all. I had also stopped at PetSmart and grabbed supplies/food for him. I stay with my folks & I sneaked him into my home that evening. They eventually discovered him & wanted me to contact local animal shelters (ok I lied to them; said I called one place but didn't contact any). I didn't bother putting up "Found Cat" ads or anything because he reminded me of my previous black cat Jub (whom I had lost June 28 2019) & I didn't want to give him up at all. I instantly fell in love with him. He's been with me ever since early August 2019. I love him dearly. It turns out when he was neutered (back in late Sept of 2019) the vet did a x-ray while he was sedated & it turned out that his back right leg healed up. His leg juts out a little bit when he sits down but he runs, plays, jumps around just like any other kitty ‍⬛


Friday 12th of March 2021

Great article and I agree with everything you said. I'm a cat lover and my cat has brought me nothing but joy and laughter and loads of love. And to those that say cats are dumb have ibviously never owned a cat.


Friday 12th of March 2021

I absolutely LOVED reading your story!! I have 3 cats and I just don't know what I'd do without them! They each have their own personality for sure. Zero is 15 and he's my "Chatty Zero". He's almost human, he's my alarm clock every morning, in other words he wants his morning treaties. He is truly the very most LOVING cat I've really ever owned. Little Kid, aka: Daisy she is 13 is naturally, "The Middle Child", she weighs 22lbs she's a big girl, but just breathtakinly beautiful! Playful is an understatement for her, give her a few catnip puff balls ands she out of control! Last, Harley Rae she will be 6yrs old in May. She is also breathtakinly beautiful, she is a Calico with the most amazing markings I've ever seen. She also, is very playful, but on her terms by far. Thank you for your story it made me laugh and also some tears, Cats really are such amazing Furry Kids, I wouldn't have a home without them. Meow meow meow <3


Friday 12th of March 2021

Our cat is an alarm clock too! She never forgets to ask for breakfast.


Friday 12th of March 2021

Start by saying that I love all animals. My mother hated cats, said they're sneaky. So I grew up with dogs. I snuck a kitten into my room in high school and she made me take it back when she heard a meow. I became disabled in 2008, 3 years in a nursing home. I had gotten a parasite in my liver from well water. I tried a dog when I got out. But pulling on the leash when walking frightened me for falls. My friend suggested cats. I was adamant that they were too aloof. But I found two on Craigslist brother and sister, absolute lovebugs. Both sleep in bed with me and are the best companions. I never married or had children, these are my babies. Plus, you can go out and not worry about getting home to let the dog out to potty. There is no taking their for walks in inclement weather. 'Nuff said. :-)


Friday 12th of March 2021

Yes! Cats are so low-maintenance compared to dogs.

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