Is a Cat the Best Pet for You?

Reasons to Consider a Cat for Your First Pet

Do you find the need for a companion pet in your life? Perhaps you're undecided between a cat or a dog, pet bird, or pet hamster or other small exotic pet All of these pets require varying amounts of care for optimum health and happiness, and none are maintenance-free.

While each of these pets have their own particular charm, please consider the endearing traits of a cat, who will give you many years of unconditional love. The choice of a pet will depend on a number of factors, including your...MORE likes and dislikes and your lifestyle. Let's compare a cat versus these other potential pets.

  • 01 of 05
    Photo of Woman Petting Tabby Cat
    Woman Petting Tabby Cat. Getty Images

    Right off the bat, you should know that cats can coexist with many other species of pets, and actually become close buddies with some of them. My family has had cats and dogs, and cats and birds and my husband had a cat and rabbit as a child.

    But as a single first pet, a cat cannot be matched. Why?

    A Cat Can Purr
    Nothing matches the relaxation of hearing and feeling the vibrations of a purring cat.

    A Cat Has No Master
    Unlike dogs, cats do not run in packs and his human is not a "pack master."...MORE However, if you are very fortunate, he will consider you an equal.

    A Cat Loves Unconditionally

    While very few humans are able to love unconditionally, if you are kind and loving to your cat, he will love you without reservation, until he draws his last breath.

  • 02 of 05

    A Cat and / or a Tank of Fish

    Billy and his Betas Yum, and Yum Yum
    Billy and his Betas Yum, and Yum Yum. Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

    A cat and aquarium fish are not mutually exclusive, provided the tank is well covered to prevent "fishing" by a curious cat. Billy, pictured with his two Betas,  dubbed "Yum" and "Yum Yum," was fascinated by his fish and spent many hours gazing at them. The Betas were equally interested in him.

    Okay, suppose you don't have time to maintain two completely different species of pets. I should mention that they probably require equal amounts of time in care, and costs of...MORE setting up their initial needs may also be roughly equal. The deciding question is this:

    Do You Want a Pet You Can Cuddle and Bond With?

    If so, a cat is the hands-down favorite. Although you can admire and interact with fish to some degree, "petting" them is tough.

  • 03 of 05

    A Cat or Rat or Other Exotic Pet?

    Pet Rats Loki, Ventura, and Ace
    Pet Rats Loki, Ventura, and Ace. Photo Credit: © Lianne McLoad

    A Cat May Require More Space

    If your space is extremely limited, the accessories you need for a cat's comfort may be a problem. In that case, a small hamster cage or Habitrail may be ideal. However, even a one-bedroom apartment should be big enough for a cat. If your main consideration is confinement of your pet in a small area, with the exception of pets like monkeys, an exotic pet might be preferable to a cat. A cat should not be caged.

    If Longevity in a Pet is Important, a Cat is a Better...MORE Choice

    A cat, if kept indoors, can live as long as 20 years or older. Rodents such as hamsters, rats, and gerbils have a limited life span, with 3.5 years being the maximum for most except for guinea pigs, which can live 7.5 years or longer.

  • 04 of 05

    A Cat or a Dog?

    Photo of Cat and Dog Buddies
    Cat and Dog Buddies. Getty Images / Dan Mclachlan / EyeEm

    Consider a Cat if Quiet Relaxation is Important to You

    Are you home most of the day and look for quiet companionship in a pet? Do you just want to relax in the evening when you return home from work? A cat might be your best choice. Unless well-trained, many dogs will bark at any given opportunity. A dog may also tend to be more demanding of your attention than a cat, who will quietly sit in your lap while you read, do needlework, or work in your home-based business.

    A Cat is a Good Companion for...MORE At-Home Hobbies

    If you enjoy crafts, cooking, or home gardening, a cat is an excellent choice for a pet. However, if your taste runs more to camping, jogging, fishing, or hunting, a dog would probably be a better partner for those hobbies.

    On the other hand, you might want to consider having both a cat and a dog. Sometimes they make excellent companions and buddies.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    A Cat Versus a Pet Bird

    Photo of Caged Parrot
    Caged Parrot. Photo Credit: © iStockPhoto/Felix Mizioznikov

    Our experience with combining birds and cats ended badly, especially for the birds. So, we're talking here about a choice between a cat and a bird.

    The area around a birdcage can be quite messy, but so can the area around a litter box. Birds can be very affectionate with their humans and some species will ride around on a human's shoulder.

    Many Birds Sing Beautifully.
    On the other hand, some birds, such as parrots, can squawk incessantly. The plus side for parrots is that some of them can...MORE live for several decades. On the other hand, it might be difficult to find an avian veterinarian. The choice of ​a pet bird or a cat will have to be left to you.

    We've given you several options, with reasons why one or another might make the best pet or you. Please keep in mind that you may not have to sacrifice one kind of pet in lieu of another. Some of these critters can get along beautifully with cats, as demonstrated here.