Important Tips and Information for New Cat Owners

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Cats are one of the most common pets in the world with around 18% of households holding one. They’re great pets as they are very hygienic, family friendly and completely adorable. It’s very tempting for families or individuals to think about getting a cat but there are a lot of things people don’t know.

Here’s a collection of some tips for new cat owners or for those who are thinking about getting a cat. This list will help you provide the best life for your pet and even help you financially!

1. Microchip Your New Cat

Did you know that cats are some of the hardest to find animals when they escape? They’re pretty good at escaping too. They can slip through the door right behind someone if they’re not paying attention.

Microchipping your cat is a great way to help you get reconnected with your cat if they get lost. They’re a very reasonable cost, and should last for life. Just make sure you keep the microchip updated if you move or change your phone number or email address.

Also, it’s a good idea to have your vet check for your microchip when you take your cat in. Sometimes microchips can move around the body, so it’s reassuring to make sure your microchip is still where it’s supposed to be and easily found.

2. Save up for Emergency Care

Cats aren’t the most expensive pets to keep, but accidents and illness happen. It’s highly recommended that you save a small amount of money each month in case emergency care is needed. If you do this, taking your pet to the vet when something happens will be an easy, non-stressful choice because you’ll know you have the money set aside.

Owners who don’t have the money set aside are less likely to take their pet in when they need it because they are worried about the cost.

Some medicines can be expensive, some life-saving procedures can be even more expensive. So when that time comes, you need a plan. Around $10/month a month can really contribute to emergency care and will allow your cat to get the care it needs while giving you less stress.

Also, many veterinarians office will work with you to work out a payment plan that makes everyone happy. Money shouldn’t be a reason to let a pet suffer.

3. Buy High-Quality Cat Food

Animals in the wild know to find food that gives them nutrients that are missing and are vital to their health. Cat owners often provide their cat with cheap cat food to reduce cost but this is actually extremely detrimental to both you and your cat in the long term.

Just like humans, an unhealthy diet can lead to many health problems in cats. Cats that go without key nutrients for an extended period of time can develop illnesses and the veterinary cost of treating these illnesses can be a lot higher than if you were to have bought the proper food in the first place. Feed your cat a good-quality diet, not just for the cats health but for your own benefits too.

4. Can you Really Afford a Cat?

It can be tempting to get a cat before you’re ready for one. They’re cute, and so many cats and kittens are available for free. So it’s very easy for people to make an impulse decision to pick up a cat, even when they aren’t quite ready for one yet.

Think about your living situation. Are you renting? Does your landlord allow you to have cats or would you be hiding one? If you cat damages the apartment by scratching or peeing on stuff, can you afford the cost to replace damages? Are you planning to move soon? Many cats get stressed out with frequent moving.

The cost should also be considered. Many people think cats are cheap pets, especially because they can be purchased for free or cheap. However, they have many expenses that come with them. There are vet bills, spaying or neutering, declawing if that’s a choice you make, a good quality food, toys and enrichment, treats, litter boxes, and litter. There’s also the cost of furniture damage from clawing or urination, furniture protectant, uring and hairball cleaner, etc. You can go above and beyond this if you want, but these are the essential costs for an average cat.

According to Pet Coach, “the average cost to own a cat is $809 per year, with the first year averaging $1,174. As most cats live an average of 9 to 15 years, this becomes an average lifetime cost of $7,646 to $12,500. These figures are merely estimates by the ASPCA, however, many cat owners will spend two to three times these values over the course of their cat’s life.”

It doesn’t benefit a cat to gain a home, bond with its owners, only to be abandoned again when their owners can’t properly take care of them. Many shelters are already overrun with abandoned cats and it can be hard to find a home for your cat when you can no longer care for it.

A cat needs a loving, stable home with a balance diet and regular check-ups for it to have the best life possible. Too many people don’t take this into account when they bring a cat into their home.

5. Are you Ready for the Battle with Litter?

A litter box is far more than a tub with some gravel in it. It can be a deal breaker for people who realize it’s messier, smellier, and more maintenance than they realized. Litter seems to be one of those things that somehow gets everywhere. Plus, changing a litter box is kind of gross.

Some people also have a hard time finding a good place for their cat’s litter box. Make sure you have an idea of where you’d be okay with having a litter box before you get your cat. You don’t want the thing that makes cat ownership sucky that they only place you can find for the litter box is somewhere you can’t stand it.

It’s important that you keep your cat’s litter in a clean and comfortable state. If you’re just noticing a bad odor from the litter then your cat likely noticed it long ago and it needs cleaning. You should be cleaning it daily, even multiple times a day if you have several cats.

You can offer a second litter box for a cat in a different location if you’d like, because they may use one for urinating and the other for defecating.

It’s worth buying a lot of cat litter at once rather than a bag whenever you run out, particularly when its on sale. Keeping a stash can save you money and be one less thing to worry about.

6. Learn about Discipline and Punishment

Cats simply don’t really understand punishment as well as a dog or another animal might.

If you punish a cat, especially after they’ve already done the bad thing, then it will not know it did anything wrong. It’ll only think that you’ve intentionally been mean to it. For example, if you’ve found that you cat has been scratching the furniture, then try to take your cat to the furniture later and try to point at the couch while yelling at your cat, they won’t have any idea what you’re talking about. They’ll just think you’re being mean to them for no reason and start to fear you.

Because of this, it’s better to reward your cat for not doing bad things rather than punishing them when they do. It’s also a good idea to try to curb the behaviors that cause you to get mad at them. If your cat is scratching the furniture, they purchase them something they can scratch. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. It’ll be hard to just get rid of the instinct to scratch, but you can try to control what they scratch.

7. Cats Need Time to Adjust

Many people bring a cat home and immediately expect the cat to love them and cuddle with them and want to sleep with them. In reality, however, cats take a lot of time to adjust to a new home. Sometimes they may even take months before they trust and are comfortable with you.

So give it time. Don’t give up after a couple days because, “it doesn’t get along with X” or “it just hides all the time.” Cats need time and love for them to become close to people or animals. All cats are different, some are extremely friendly and will become best friends within a few weeks while others may take months before they can trust someone.

They probably won’t immediately be a really friendly, perfect family cat so make it feel loved and wait. Earning a cat’s trust is very rewarding for the whole family and you won’t regret it.

8. Cats can be Picky with Water

It’s instinctive for cat owners to want put all of the cats resources close to each other. While this isn’t the end of the world, it’s against the cat’s own instincts to use a water source near their food or litter. This is because in the wild, a cat would not drink water near to their prey in case it is contaminated.

The large majority of house cats eventually overcome this, but they will always prefer their water not be close to their food. They also need fresh water. It should be changed at least daily, if not more often.

You’ve probably seen videos, memes, or heard of cats that are picky drinkers. This may be partly due to where their water is located and because of how clean or dirty the water is. Cat’s have much more sensitive senses than we do. What might look fine to us might appear gross to your cat.

9. Hugging and Interacting with Your Cat

It’s a natural human reaction to want to cuddle and hug their cat. These furry creatures are incredibly adorable after all and you probably purchased it to be a companion. However, not all cats are cuddly, and even the ones that are will also want their own space sometimes.

Don’t force more interaction onto your cat than they can handle. If you do force interaction often, then your cat might actually start to distrust you and become very paranoid of being picked up or held.

Cats are animals and have their instincts, if they want a cuddle then they will come to you. Don’t force anything and especially don’t continue if the cat is clearly uncomfortable. Read your cat’s body language and it’ll create a stronger bond for both of you.

10. Declawing: The Elephant in the Room

Look, we have to mention the elephant in the room: to declaw or not declaw your cat.

Many people have strong feelings about whether you should declaw cats or not. Some people think it’s the only way for them and their cats to live in peace without having shredded furniture, while other think it’s cruel and inhumane and that you shouldn’t even own a cat if you want to declaw it.

If I’m being honest, I don’t love the idea of declawing a cat and would never personally declaw my own. However, after talking to my vet, I respect people’s decision to declaw their cat if that means that cat will still have a loving home.

My vet told me that he is pro declawing cats because he’d rather see a declawed cat in a  happy home than a cat who kept his claws tossed out because the family couldn’t handle him clawing their furniture. There’s not enough people willing to adopt older cats. If they lose their home for something like this, there’s a good chance it’s the end of the line for them.

So, with this in mind, if declawing your cat is what you need to have happen so that you can continue providing a loving home for your cat, then it’s a good thing to do. But you might consider trying some furniture protectors or providing appropriate scratching posts or toys first to see if that’s enough to tame your cat’s scratching.

What advice do you have for new cat owners? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Enjoy your new cat or kitten,