First Feline Friend: A New Cat Owners Guide

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Taking care of a pet cat is a prolific and life-changing experience. Here are some tips and tricks to make the first step of your cat-parenting journey easier.

Why a Cat? 5 Great Benefits of Owning a Cat

Cats are highly fascinating creatures that will put color, comfort, and cuteness into your life. Apart from the warmth and love of a furry friend, here are some great reasons why a cat is the ideal pet.

  • Owning pets teaches responsibility, patience, and empathy, especially for kids. Just like any family member, a pet requires care, attention, and affection.
  • Cats are generally low maintenance compared to other pets. Though social, they’re independent creatures that self-groom, can be left at home while you work, and don’t require long, regular walks.
  • A cat doesn’t need a lot of space to thrive. Your fluff ball will be happy in a corner of your room to call its own. It does need to roam around your other spaces, though, so your home needs to be cat-proofed.
  • There’s evidence that the low frequency of a cat’s purr is healing to the human body. The sound and vibration can relieve pain and lower blood pressure. Even simply petting a cat or watching it play by itself lowers stress levels, like watching cat videos but live. As they say, laughter is the best medicine.
  • Having a kitty cat is having your own pest control system but without the chemical side effects. They have the agility and speed of a true predator that usually hunts rats, insects, and other rodents in the early mornings or late evenings. A big congratulations to you if you’re getting barn cats for your farm.

Are you ready to adopt yet? Let’s get started with the things you need to prepare.

Preparing Your Home for a New Cat

Cats are naturally curious creatures and will explore every nook and cranny of the home. Use these guidelines to cat-proof your space and make it welcoming for your feline.

Follow pet rules

Before even thinking of bringing a kitty cat home, check local guidelines and your HOA pet rules. Find out about outdoor restrictions, leashing, nuisance (aka noise) laws, and the like. You wouldn’t want to fall in love with a cat only to find out later that your apartment complex doesn’t allow pets at all.

Some places require cats to be vaccinated and properly identified via microchip. Consider spaying or neutering as well. Compliance means you’ll have to be ready for these expenses.

Prioritize safety

Owning a kitty furball is like having a toddler who can jump very high. Avoid possible accidents by sealing windows and exit points, especially those that are stories up. Stow away hazards such as plastic bags and window blind strings that can cause suffocation or strangulation.

Other dangers include fishing rod lines (strangulation), power cords (electrocution), medicine and some plants (poisoning), as well as candles and stovetops (burns). When you already have your cat, make it a habit to check in and around your car and appliances to make sure they aren’t in the way before turning the power on.

Hide fragile stuff such as that expensive silk blouse or those crystal vases in a place where your little claw monster can’t reach them.

Create a cat-exclusive zone

Now that the house is safe and tidy, find the cat its own cozy and inviting space. This area is where you’ll place its food and water bowl, bed, litter box, and toys. The tiny furred monarch will leave its scent here and claim it as its kingdom.

Invest in good cat gear

The first thing your whiskered friend will probably need is a soft side carrier so you can take it home. Make it as comfy as possible by putting a soft blanket and toy inside. Carriers are essential for bringing your pet to the vet or an airplane ride.

A cat will need some basics like a collar with a tag for identification. Add a bell, too, since they tend to be silent stalkers. Bells have helped many kittens when they get stuck somewhere or are missing.

Choose a shallow, metal or ceramic feeding bowl over a plastic kind. Plastic bowls can get scratched, harbor germs over time, and lead to food contamination.

A kitty litter box is an absolute must, and two large ones is even better for one cat. It’s like buying a house. You wouldn’t buy a house without a bathroom, right? On the other hand, having two is a big plus because it gives your pet options and allows it to mark more territory. Buy a big enough size that allows little whiskers to adjust, turn, and scratch without making a mess. Place one in the cat-exclusive zone, and the other in the living room where your cat frequents.

And speaking of messes, steer clear of clay litter as this tracks all over your floor. The best option is fine, natural litter, as strongly scented ones can irritate your cat’s sensitive sense of smell. There are also those with deodorizers (like those with baking soda) incorporated to minimize odors.

Don’t forget to buy an effective deodorizer and a litter scoop to keep things clean and tidy. You’ll have to scoop up your kitty’s litter daily and thoroughly clean the box weekly.

Next is your furball’s bed. There are so many stylish and soft cat beds available to choose from. A good one would be those with washable covers to make maintenance easy for you and comfortable for your feline friend. The bed should also be big enough so your cat can do a full stretch without toppling over.

You’ll also need quality scratchers, climbers, and perches to satisfy your cat’s instincts. Choose sturdy ones that won’t fall over and hurt your cat. If it does get hurt, they won’t go near that toy again. Stick the perches on windows where your pet can laze, bird-watch, and soak up some warmth.

Air Cat Climbing Frame | Robotime Online

These initial legwork and investments are worth it. Remember, your home is not your own anymore; it’s your cat’s, too.

So It’s Here, What Now?

Other than buying the gear you prepared earlier, there are certain obligations you need to do as a new cat parent.

The First Few Days

Don’t expect a cat to be bossy upon arrival at your home. Most cats exhibit shy behavior in a new environment, so you’ll need to help it acclimate slowly. It may take a few days to a few weeks (a few months for some) to fully feel at home in what was initially just your territory. Give it time and don’t force the process.

Approach the cat slowly and watch for reactions. Let them sniff your hand to introduce your scent. Let them get used to your touch starting with the face and head. Kittens, especially, need lots of touches. You can try bribing with treats to coax it out if it’s hiding.

As time goes by, try boosting the cat’s confidence with scent soakers, or things they can rub their scent on. Aside from their bed, you can buy or make toys (like DIY catnip in socks) that they can play with and call their own.

Feeding

When it comes to food, the wet kind is the best and healthiest for your pet. Get to know what the shelter gave your cat, but slowly transition to wet food over time. Add raw food to their meals at times. Keep dry food only as treats.

A common mistake cat owners make is free-feeding their pets. This habit leads to behavior and nutrition problems you can easily avoid by setting a daily schedule of 2 to 3 small feedings. Just a tip: be firm with that sked and don’t give in to the meow-ing regardless of how adorable or persistent it is.

Since cats prefer running water, you might want to invest in a cat fountain that provides cleaner and fresher water. With a fountain, your pet won’t resort to drinking from the toilet bowl.

Hygiene

The first bath can be a gruelling or pleasant experience depending on your cat, but it’s necessary. Sometimes, adopted cats can have fleas from where they’re from so it’s essential to get rid of those first.

Contrary to popular belief, cats aren’t afraid of water. They’re just uncomfortable with it so make this first bath as calming as possible for your new friend. After this, you won’t need to bathe your cat (self-grooming, remember?) unless they get really dirty and nasty.

Brushing and nail trimming should be done regularly, though. Cats with long hair, especially, will need regular brushing to keep their coat clean and matte-free. When it’s all relaxed and sleepy, you can try trimming the tip of their nails with your trimmer of choice.

Vet Visits

An initial visit to the vet is necessary to assess your cat’s health. After that, annual visits are the norm. If you’re worried about the cost, try getting pet insurance while your cat is young.

Playtime

A cat is a low maintenance, but playing with your cat is an important part of your bond as well as the cat’s health and behavioral development.

Cats need a lot of stimulation as they’re born natural hunters. Kittens, especially, have lots of energy to expend. Make sure you have lots of toys for your cat to play with, even if it’s just a feather on a stick, a cardboard box, or a ball of string.

Interactive toys like our wooden whack-a-mole provide endless entertainment when cats are alone. A great bonding time would be just before bedtime. After all those fun activities, you’ll be delighted to find your cat sleeping soundly through the night and not bothering you.

Conclusion: Every Cat is Different

Each feline is unique, so get to know your pet and find out what it likes. Start slowly and try different things.

Treat your baby furball with lots of patience and love. You may have to compromise some of your wants to accommodate it, but that’s just what family does. Embrace your new role, and you won’t believe how much love you can give and get from your bundle of cuteness.