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While cats do not need to be taken for daily walks as a dog does, they are by no means low maintenance—either in the amount of interaction they require or in the financial responsibility they represent. Adopting a pet of any kind is a large commitment in terms of both time and money. Cats are social animals who want and need interaction with their guardians. Feeding, grooming and litter box cleaning are daily activities.
As with many animals, cats cannot communicate verbally with their guardians, so it is the human's responsibility to be constantly watchful of the cat's behavior and alert to any abnormalities. A guardian who believes the cat can "take care of itself" will be unaware of subtle behavior changes that can be signs of the onset of serious illness or injury.
In terms of financial commitment, guardians should plan to spend between $800 and $1,000 per year, per cat, on the basics—food, litter and regular vet care, with additional funds budgeted for petsitting (as needed) and medical emergencies—potential guardians should be aware that costs can and will increase dramatically should an illness or injury occur that would require additional vet care and/or hospitalization.
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