If you’ve loved cats all of your life, but for one reason or another you haven’t been able to adopt one until now, then the odds are you’re pretty excited and want to give your new feline the best home possible. Our first time cat owner tips will help you prepare your home so it’s perfect in time for your new arrival.
Key Takeaway: Planning ahead, providing the right food, and a safe space for your cat to rest, will do wonders in terms of alleviating stress and ensuring your pet is happy, healthy, and feels right at home.
Lining up a reputable vet is an important first step in pet ownership. The vet you choose should offer reasonable prices for exams, care, and shots, and they should also be close by, in the event of a medical emergency. If you’re not sure what vet to go with talk to your friends and family for recommendations. You can also check out sites such as Yelp, where you’ll find reviews from pet owners.
If you’re not adopting a cat from a shelter, then your cat should have their first checkup during his or her first week in your home. During the checkup, make sure you get the cat’s shots up to date and follow up with testing if the vet notices any issues. Getting a full blood panel can help to pinpoint any health issues including vitamin deficiencies.
The Adjustment Period
When stressed, cats often prefer a quiet dark place to rest. If you don’t have a spare bedroom, you can set up a small space in your closet or the laundry room. It just needs to be in a room that’s fairly quiet and away from most of the traffic in the home.
In the same area, set up the cat’s litter box, food, water, and a few toys.
Once your cat begins to venture out of their quiet space you can explore the home together.
While you may be excited to play with your new cat as soon as you get home, they need time to adjust to their new home. You need to earn their trust. Most cats will need time to warm up to a new home and new owners, so setting aside a space all their own is very important. This will be especially true if you have young children or other pets in the home.
Keep in mind that your new feline may spend the first week hiding under your bed or disappearing for several hours at a time. Don’t push your love and attention on your new cat. Instead, give them the time and space they need. Make an attempt once a day. If your cat runs for it, leave them alone and try again the next day.
While your cat is adjusting to their new home, make sure you always leave out fresh water and food. If you notice that your cat has barely touched their food for a few days, contact the vet.
Unlike dogs, cats don’t enjoy going for walks once or twice a day, however, just like dogs, they do need to exercise in order to avoid obesity or other health-related issues.
Cat trees are a popular option and one that can not only provide the type of exercise they need via climbing, but a cat tree will also provide them with a good place to file down and clean their claws. Some models, such as the Songmics multi-level Cat Tree, also provide a quiet, dark spot for them to sleep during the day.
For more information on the leading cat trees, click here to read our buyer’s guide.
Do cats understand no? Yes, they do. With kittens and younger cats, teaching your cat the meaning of the word no can be easy, and it’s an important step you want to take in order to teach them the rules of the home and establish important boundaries. To learn more, click here.
Depending on the breed, your cat may or may not need to be brushed daily. With short haired cats, doing so isn’t necessary, but it can help to cut down on the amount of cat hair they leave behind on your clothing and furniture.
With long-haired cats, brushing them daily is necessary. If you fail to brush your long-haired cat daily, you’ll end up paying a high grooming bill and stressing out your cat. Long-haired cats tend to get mats easily, which can trap dirt, fleas, oils, and dead skin cells. Use a comb or pet-specific brush and gently brush out their coat. It’s best to begin this ritual right away, in order to help get your cat used to it as quickly as possible.
Introducing Your New Cat to the Family Dog
This can be very tricky and should be done slowly, once the cat has adjusted to their new home. Until such time, you should keep the family dog and the new cat separated. Some dogs will have a very high prey drive, which means if a cat runs they will instinctively chase it. This can result in serious injury to both the cat and dog or even the death of the cat.
For safety reasons, when you introduce the animals, make sure the dog is on a leash and have someone holding the leash as you slowly release the cat. Make sure you feel out the situation, paying close attention to both of the animal’s body language, before allowing one or the other to approach. If the dog’s or cat’s fur is standing straight up, the dog begins barking, or the cat hisses, it’s time to separate the animals and try again another time. This can be a very slow process in some cases. In others, usually with very young dogs and cats, they can form a fast friendship.
As you can see from our first time cat owner tips, a lot of thought and preparation goes into bringing home a new cat, especially if you have other animals. Cats, unlike dogs, may not be as affectionate as you like, however, this can vary from cat to cat and may change with time. Remember, take your time, give your new cat the space they need and with plenty of patience, your cat will warm up to their new home in no time.