Tips for First Time Cat Owners

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” Sigmund Freud
The old cat person vs. dog person rages on. But cats, dogs, we love ‘em all! Cats, though, have a special place in many hearts and minds. Figuratively and literally. Owning a cat can reduce your risk of fatal heart attack by 40%, and (shh, don’t tell the dog people) some research suggests that cat people are more intelligent. Any way you cut it, owning a cat is a great idea. What should you know before you bring one into your home?

Adopting a Cat: What Do You Want?

Before you bring home a new bundle of fur and joy, take some time to consider your needs and research breeds that will be a great fit. For instance, if you work all day and need a cat who can spend long hours alone (and enjoy it), consider a Russian Blue, British Shorthair, or Persian. If, on the other hand, you have time to play and want a more affectionate cat, you may find that an American Bobtail or Himalayan is a great fit. Questions to help you determine the best breed:

  • How much time do you have to devote to attending to/playing with your cat?
  • How much shedding can you tolerate?
  • Do you have other pets?
  • Do you have children?
  • Do you want a playful, energetic cat or a calm, sedate one?

Get Ready for Kitty

Cats have a reputation for independence and many are low-maintenance. That said, they do need supplies to feel comfortable, safe, and happy. Make sure you have:

  • A litter box. Many cats prefer a box with a hood for privacy (and this helps keep litter off the floor).
  • Litter. If you are adopting a cat, ask her previous owner or shelter what cat litter she uses. This can help her adjust to her new home more easily.
  • Food and water dishes. Again, check on her current brand of food, if applicable.
  • Scratching post. Make sure it is at least 3 feet high and sturdy.
  • Toys. Mice, string, and feathers are good choices, and many a cat can entertain herself for hours with an empty cardboard box.
  • A comfortable bed.
  • Grooming tools, such as a brush and nail clipper.
  • A safe collar and pet ID.
  • A vet! Before you bring home your new pet, ask your friends, family members, or neighbours for suggestions. Make an appointment and ask the doc about proper vaccinations, nutrition, exercise, and routine care.

Give Your Cat Time to Adjust

While all dogs are different, they typically want all the attention they can get when entering their new home. All cats, too, are different, but they usually want some space to adjust. It’s best if you have a room where she can go for privacy and quiet.

If your cat hides under furniture or appears shy, don’t worry. This is natural. She’ll learn that you’re safe. You can try just sitting quietly near her hiding spot. She’ll likely emerge soon enough to investigate and get to know you. Let her call the shots (at least as far as her personal space goes).

Start the Grooming Routine

If you are adopting a kitten, take the time to introduce her to grooming. Start slowly by simply touching her paws. Gradually, over several sessions, handle her paws and expose her claws. This will make it easier when it comes time to clip those nails. Also, it’s a great idea to give her a bath. Again, go through the motions without water, and stay calm. If it’s no big deal to you, it will not be a big deal to her.

When you bring a cat into your home, you also bring in joy and love. It’s a great decision, and when you take the time to prepare, it’s one you will never, ever regret.