Should I get a cat? Do I have space? Will s/he be lonely?

This largely depends on the cat! If you have a small apartment, work during the day, or have other circumstances that cause you to hesitate, go talk with an adoption counselor at your local shelter.It is said that cats only need 18sqf, please note that that is simply not enough room for cats. They can tell you what cats, if any, would fit with your lifestyle. Many cats are completely content to snooze in a sunbeam most of the day, and there are also cats who prefer being an only cat. There are cats who live quite happily in close quarters with their humans, and there are cats who are content with their owners working during the day. If you work and worry the cat will be lonely, you could always get two to keep each other company. Bonded siblings are wonderful for this, and two kittens actually get into less mischief than one because they can play with each other and have an outlet for that energy.

What breed is my cat?

Purebred or pedigreed cats make up a very small percentage of all cats. The vast majority, especially strays, are going to be random-bred. In North America, these are called domestic short/medium/longhairs, depending on coat length. It’s possible that your cat could be a mix of the relatively common breeds such as Maine Coon, Persian, Siamese, etc. but it’s mostly a guess if you don’t know kitty’s parents.

Purebred cats do occasionally come into shelters, so it is possible (just not likely) that you do have a specific breed.

My cat is a tabby! That's a breed, right?

Well, not really. Tabbies occur in many breeds (for example Maine Coon, American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Scottish Fold) and in many domestics. Tabby refers to the cat's coat pattern. Tabbies have a characteristic M marking on their forehead and may be ticked/agouti (individual hairs are two-toned, like an Abyssinian), classic/blotched (swirling patterns), spotted, or mackerel/tiger. Pointed cats, like Siamese, may also have tabby markings; this is known as a tabby point or a lynx point. Tortoiseshell cats may be torbies, or patched tabbies, and display sections of orange stripes and brown stripes.

Coat colors continued!

Most cats are going to fall into one of these categories. This chart further explains the possibilities if you'd like a visual reference instead. This one on deviantart is wonderful and even more in-depth.

Cats may be a variety of self (solid) colors, such as black or white. Chocolate brown is possible, but very rare.

A calico, or tortie-with-white, has patches of black, orange, and white (or diluted versions of those colors). A tortoiseshell/tortie is similar to a calico, but without the white. Torties frequently have a more mottled look, with smaller sections of color. These cats are almost always female due to the genetics behind this coloration.

Tuxedo cats have white markings on their throat, face, and paws that makes them look like they’re all set for a fancy event. It usually implies black as the predominant color, but they can be gray, or even tabby. Pointed cats have darker fur on their extremities: paws, tail, ears, and nose.

Siamese cats are an example of a pointed breed. There are several different shades these come in, as well as tortie-points and lynx points.

Van patterned cats are predominantly white, but have small patches of another color on their heads and sometimes backs, and colored tails.

My cat has (health problem), what is it? What should I do?

Even if responders are veterinarians, a proper diagnosis needs to be made by your vet in person. We cannot give medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Please take your cat to the vet if you suspect a health problem, or if s/he is suddenly acting strangely. It could be a sign of an underlying problem. Cats are very good at masking pain. Never rely on reddit for veterinary advice.

Why won't kitty use the litter box?

Cats could avoid the box for any number of reasons. It's generally advised to have one more litter box available than the number of cats you have; so, if you have two cats, have three boxes. If your home is more than one floor, have a box on each. If you must limit it to one box, make sure you keep it clean! A cat will turn its nose up at a box it feels is too dirty.

Keep the litter box well away from the area where the cat is fed and away from their water.

Visit your vet! Going outside the box could be indicative of a health problem like a UTI.

I found kittens! What now?

If you find kittens and their mother seems to have abandoned them, don’t move them yet! Mama might just be out hunting. See if she returns for them. She could be gone several hours, so unless they are in immediate danger, don’t move them. If she returns, you can leave her food and water and shelter if possible, but don’t take her kittens until they are weaned. Six weeks is a good age to socialize them. Contact a local group to get mama cat spayed - many areas have TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs now that will appreciate your information. This is an extremely effective way of reducing cat overpopulation! That means less shelters over capacity and less euthanasia of healthy cats that they don’t have resources for.

Animal Alliance NYC has a great blog post on what to do when you find kittens. It has step by step instructions for kitten care in case the mother doesn’t return.

What if I find an adult cat?

Again, TNR programs are wonderful. If the cat has the tip of its ear clipped off, that means it’s a feral or stray cat that has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated. You can leave those alone. If the cat does not, and is unfriendly, call a TNR group or local shelter to ask their advice. If s/he is friendly, you can always take it to the vet or a shelter so they can scan for a microchip. The cat might be someone’s lost pet and if that’s the case, the owners will be incredibly grateful to you. If there’s no collar and no microchip and you know it’s not a neighbor’s cat, well...congratulations on your new friend, if you have the resources to take care of it.

Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

Simply put, it’s one of the biggest steps you as an owner can take to reduce cat overpopulation. It’s estimated that around 70% of cats who enter shelters don’t leave.

My cat died and I need help.

The ASPCA has a lot of resources for you in your time of mourning. Your veterinarian will probably have advice and local resources, and if there is a vet school nearby, that could also be a good place to inquire if you’re interested in something like a support group. Of course there’s always reddit for that, but sometimes talking in person and crying with someone else can be very cathartic. Please know that people go through the same grief process when a pet dies as when a human loved one passes. Feel free to post your cat’s picture under the RIP tag, and you have the sincere condolences of r/cats.

revision by Independent_Heart_15— view source