The pros and cons of having a feline friend

Cat owner Mark Twain once wrote, "I simply cant resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course."

There is something heartwarming when a little feline friend crawls into your lap, nestles in and begins to purr. Cats can be extremely affectionate, unswervingly loyal and mind-blowing smart — all factors that contribute to the cat being the perfect pet. Here are some other reasons:

They're low maintenance. Cats do not require daily walks. While it may be enjoyable to stroll with your dog on a beautiful spring day, trudging through a foot of snow so Fido can be exercised is not as much fun. Cats do need exercise and enjoy active play, but indoor activity is suitable for most cats. Many engaging cat toys are available, but simple toys like twisty ties, long pieces of yarn and the plastic rings from a milk jug can keep a kitty entertained for hours.

Cats use a litter box. Cats can be litter box trained. An animal that can use a litter box means a human does not have to rush home from work to make sure his or her four-legged friend doesnt have an accident. No longer are cats stuck with only the traditional open-top or hooded litter box filled with clay litter, either. The clumping varieties of cat litter help to eliminate litter box dust and make scooping waste easier. Other varieties include crystals, pine and paper. An automatic cat litter box is easy to maintain and allows pet owners the luxury of minimal scooping.

Cats require minimal grooming. Most cats need minimal grooming. While some owners will bathe their kitties once or twice a year, most cats stay neat and clean on their own. A long-haired cat will need more grooming than a short-haired cat.

They are adaptable and trainable. Cats can be content living in a sprawling house, a condominium or a studio apartment. While dogs need plenty of space to live and play, even the larger breeds of cats can thrive in an apartment or smaller living space. A cat can be trained to learn its name, come when called and not to climb on counters or tables. Some cats will even learn to play fetch.

Cats can be affectionate. It is true some cats can be standoffish. However, cats are just like people and have personalities, preferences and even quirks. While some cats prefer solitude or the company of just one person, others thrive on attention. A cat shown respect, affection and love will generally respond in kind to its people and any visitors.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 37 million households in the United States have a cat. To decide if cats are the perfect pets for you, visit your local animal shelter or animal rescue. You will be able to spend time with the cats and talk to people who already share their homes with felines.