Cats are wonderful pets. Contrary to stereotypes, they’re caring companions and their independent nature is no obstacle to them showing how much they love you.
As with any pet, they require some special attention when it comes to basic needs and safety precautions, so if you’re a first-time cat owner, these tips will be immensely helpful!
And as a side note, I’ve been a cat owner pretty much all my life so a lot of these tips come from personal experience, as well as professional recommendations from vets.
Adopt a kitten!
There’s no reason to spend a ton of money buying a cat when you can adopt a kitten for free. And trust me, while their creation and habitat can influence their personality, cats are cats. Whether it’s a rare breed or a stray, they’re all great.
Raising a kitten from an early age is wonderful because it gives them a lot of time to adapt to your home as well as your routine. They will start to understand the lay of the land and develop their own habits more naturally.
A word of warning though: adopting a cat is a huge undertaking. The same goes for any pet. This is a new member of your family now. They need food, water, attention, space, and they may sometimes get sick and need to go to the doctor.
If you don’t find yourself financially secure, it’s not a good idea to adopt. But if you do, then, by all means, welcome a kitty into your family!
Neuter them at the right time
The proper time for neutering a cat is between four to six months old after they’ve had basic vaccination. Neutering is useful to prevent unwanted breeding and ensure your cat stays closer to home most of the time.
For male cats, it stops them from marking territory (aka peeing) around your house and prevents aggressiveness. And for female cats, obviously, it prevents the possibility of you waking up to five new cats she just had in the garage from a random cat in your neighborhood.
Spaying and neutering are mandatory in certain states and counties, such as California and Texas, so check your local legislature. Here’s a list of current spay-and-neuter ordinances by state.
Make sure they’re eating and drinking water
Here’s a pro cat owner tip: one of the main signs of illness in cats is when they refuse to eat, even when they’re hungry. Always check their pots to see if they’re actually eating and drinking water!
Water is particularly important since most store-bought cat food options are very salty. They do this to encourage the cat to drink water, but if they don’t drink enough it can cause issues. One simple way to encourage them to drink more water is to purchase a running water bowl. Cats LOVE running water – this is why they will often ignore their bowl of water and drink from a faucet.
Install window screens
This is more important for apartments or houses with high windows. Some cats have absolutely no fear when it comes to heights and every now and then they will slip and fall or simply misjudge the distance of a particularly ambitious jump. They also usually love to sleep on windowsills, and they can fall accidentally when turning mid-sleep. That happens frequently with mine!
Window screens are there to prevent these accidents. One of the most common mistakes first-time cat owners make is to assume that cats are invulnerable to fall damage or trust their judgment too much. Despite their agility, they can still get seriously hurt when falling from heights!
Scratching posts are great
Here’s the deal: if you don’t have a scratching post, then your couch is the scratching post.
It’s as simple as that and there’s no use getting angry at your cat when it happens. It’s very natural for them to scratch their nails and the sooner you give them a proper place to do it, the better! It’s one of the most crucial first-time cat owner tips, as it can save your furniture.
And while I’m giving out tips for cat owners, get yourself a comb for your cat. They shed a lot, so combing them regularly helps mitigate this.
Oh yeah, and if you like to wear darker clothes, don’t get a white cat. Trust me.
Practice good habits early
Cats are incredibly stubborn and unlike dogs, they don’t know the meaning of the word “obedience. Especially at an early age, you should encourage your cat into good habits as much as possible.
A few examples would be using a scratching post instead of the couch, or gently scolding them if they jump on top of the dining table. The cat I had for the longest time (she passed away at almost 17 years of age!) was not allowed on top of the dining table and she mostly respected it. She would only break this rule when we cooked fish.
Another example is their relationship with human food. Ever since my cat was 2 months old, I never let him eat nor try human food, so he respects anything I leave on the table and I can trust him on that. He may get close to smell it if it’s something different, but he is not interested at all most of the time. This is a particularly great habit if you don’t want your pets to keep asking for your food whenever you’re having a snack or dinner.
Give them space
Cats are known for being independent, and many people dislike them in favor of dogs because of that. Oftentimes when you pick up a cat and force them to stay in your lap, they simply won’t stay.
First of all, never take that as any sort of evidence that your cat doesn’t like you. Every single cat I’ve ever adopted had moments where they would seek me out around the house just to lay on my lap, but they also need their space.
My cat will sometimes demand lap and no doors will stop him (he knows how to open them). But when he wants to lay down by the window, that’s where he is staying and there’s nothing I can do to discourage him.
The thing about cats is that you have to understand their personality. Some are very needy, some prefer to be alone. Some are extremely playful, others are just lazy. The more time you spend with your cat, the more their personality will shine through and the more you will learn to respect it.
And that’s the beauty of having a cat. It’s a relationship about respect, patience, and heartwarming love for one another.
My cat will drive me crazy sometimes. But he’s always right beside me keeping me company and cheering my family up when they need him.
Are you thinking about adopting a cat? Already have one? Tell me all about it in the comments below or through our Facebook page, where you can find more useful articles and inspiration every week!
Did you know that resealing your hardwood floors can prevent damages caused by pets?