No Place Like Home: Advice for First-Time Cat Owners

Are you thinking of making an addition to the family? If a feline friend is pulling at your heartstrings, there are some things you should consider before jumping in, especially if you’re a first-time pet owner. Do some preparing to ensure you and your household are ready.

 Fit Your Family

 When selecting a cat, you should ensure that you choose one who will fit well with your household. Think through what your home is like and what will work well. Do you have enough room for a cat? While cats can usually be content in relatively small areas, you still need space for feeding, litter boxes, and the like. Is your setup safe, or do you need to make changes to accommodate a cat? You may need to do some pet proofing before you can bring home your new addition. For instance, if you have a prized collection of houseplants, you may need to determine if some are poisonous to cats. Cats are also notorious for knocking things off shelves, so consider where you store your breakables. And does anyone in your household have allergies? While there are some hypoallergenic cat breeds, you may need to look to a breeder instead of your local shelter to find one.

 Ages, Aspects, and Stages

Consider the various aspects of cats and cat ownership. While there are basics that apply to all cats -- like emptying litter boxes, feeding, and veterinary care -- there are some facets that belong to particular breeds, ages, and backgrounds. For instance, as Merck Veterinary Manual explains, male cats who are neutered at an older stage in life may still spray urine, which is a territorial behavior normally associated with unneutered males. Kittens are adorable, but they may get into things more than older cats due to their curious nature. Adult cats are typically less active, less destructive, and are less challenging to tend.

Another advantage of adopting an adult cat is the animal’s behavioral traits and personality are established. You can talk with the individual caring for the animal to find out if a particular cat will be a good match for your lifestyle. There is substantial variance in how cats behave; some cats are playful, some quiet and cuddly, some “talk” a lot, some are standoffish, and everything in between. You can use a cat breed selector to give you an idea of how purebred animals differ. Cats aren’t like dogs, and personality characteristics tend to be much more individualized. 

 Home Prep

 Buy all the basic cat necessities before bringing your pet home. You should have a cat carrier, litter, a litter box, food, bowls, cat beds, a scratching post, toys, a collar, and an identification tag. Be prepared to clean up after your new pet and have your supplies ready. For example, purchasing a quality vacuum cleaner can help you get rid of pet hair and dander efficiently. If someone in your home is allergic to cats, a good vacuum can also reduce allergens. Check out reviews to identify the best vacuum for your home and your pets, and remember that certain vacuums were designed specifically to handle pet hair. Also, you should have on hand an appropriate cleanser for vomit and potty accidents, just in case.

Welcome Home

Once you select your new feline friend, you’ll be excited to bring her home and become acquainted. It’s important to understand that your cat may need time to adjust to the new surroundings, and rescue pets can be particularly afraid or anxious at first. As Petfinder explains, your cat can feel very vulnerable with being in a whole new place and may hide.  Some cats virtually disappear for a while, especially if they haven’t been socialized properly. You might offer your cat a cardboard box turned upside-down she can hide in, especially during the period of adjustment. Be patient with your new friend, and let her come to you.

Friend for Life

Cats can be wonderful companion animals. If you’ve never owned a pet before, adding a cat to your life is a big decision. Be sure to choose the right cat for you and prepare properly. You and your cat will be fast friends in no time!

By Jessica Brody, Kitty Kasa guest blogger:

Jessica is a dog lover and creator of OurBestFriends.pet. She created the site to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals. Jessica believes dogs are the best creatures on earth. She enjoys writing about and sharing photos of dogs (and other pets!) on her website.