Are you a first-time cat owner? Perhaps you have a cat but don’t know for sure how to care for it. You can avoid common mistakes many cat parents make. Just read this new cat owner guide to expand your knowledge. The list below should be helpful in learning what not to do, as well as what your kitty needs.
1) Don’t take the cat home just because it’s cute.
Learn as much as you can about the unique personality of a cat you like. Also, learn its history. What breed is it? Do his basic personality traits fit with you and your family? Just as with humans, each cat has its own individual traits. Do you realize that, cute or not, your cat is not completely independent. He needs your care and your knowledge and expertise to keep him healthy and happy.
2) Are you ready for the commitment?
Just like with a new kid, your new cat needs you to make a long-term commitment to its care. You will have a time commitment — ideally, for the duration of the cat’s life. After all, he’s part of your family now. You will also have to make a financial commitment for his food and care.
Keep in mind that you can obtain pet insurance to help take care of large expenses, like vet bills, or in case of sickness.
3) Spaying or neutering
An important step becomes spaying or neutering your new pet. As a pet owner, you must take care of this very important duty. Benefits of doing so include:
a) Helps address cat overpopulation — Do your part!
b) Eliminates aggressive behavior in males and yowling of females in heat.
c) No unwanted or surprise litters of kittens.
d) Helps protect kitty from numerous health issues, such as cancerous tumors or bacterial infections.
4) Don’t declaw unless it’s a medical necessity
Though some vets still offer this service, do not opt for claw removal. This practice requires the amputation of the end bones of your cat’s toes in order to remove the claw. Consider if you had to have your fingers cut off at the first joint. Why would you wish to allow a vet to perform such surgery on your cat?
Many countries and some states now ban this surgery, and rightfully so. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation discourages this practice as an elective procedure. Consider it cruel and unusual punishment.
5) Find a vet you like
Cats must have the same care as dogs. Get the necessary vaccines, whether your cat lives just indoors or if it spends time outside.
Also, make sure you take him for an annual exam, even if you think the cat has no problems. Regular exams by a vet can help catch a problem before it gets out of hand.
Here is a YouTube video about common mistakes cat owners make, presented by a vet:
6) Take litter box training 101
You must keep the litter box clean. A fastidious animal, the cat will not be happy using a dirty litter box. In fact, if you don’t clean it every day, the cat may opt to go outside the box.
Cleaning chores include daily scooping, and you will also have to scrub out the box regularly and add new litter when necessary.
7) Choose a food that meets a cat’s needs and your budget
Your cat needs a food rich in meat protein, and without lots of fillers such as grain and corn. These latter you will find far too often in the cheaper cat foods.
Think of it this way: If you provide a higher-quality food for your cat you will make fewer trips to the vet because the cat will get the nutrients he needs and will stay healthier.
High-carb diets can cause obesity in cats.
Also, do not leave food out so the cat can eat whenever he wants. In the wild, the cat catches all he eats, so if he ate more often it meant he had a successful hunt. However, he had to find and capture his food for himself, which took time and energy. He worked off calories through regular exercise.
Do not feed your cat just dry food. It may have the nutrients your cat needs, but it has no water content. Often a cat does not drink enough water, so giving wet food helps alleviate this lack.
8) Know where to find your cat
If you have an outdoor cat, you must try to monitor his movements and know where he goes. You may find it easier to keep the cat indoors, as he can encounter many outdoor dangers, such as speeding cars or cat-chasing dogs.
I’ve had mostly outdoor cats, but have always lived on the edge of civilization. Here, we have more danger to the cat from coyotes and wolves.
Therefore, I establish a strict schedule: The cat could go out after breakfast, but had to return home by 4:30 p.m. for supper. Then he stayed in for the night. The cat always came when I called at 4:30, because he knew he would get fed. I have been fortunate that none of my cats have suffered from being let outside.
9) Use parasite control if necessary
Even an indoor cat can contract fleas, ticks, or worms. Any of these can cause health problems or great discomfort for your pet. Make sure you have a preventative available for kitty.
For fleas, try the Seresto flea collar. Fortunately, where I live in Alaska we have no problem with fleas. A friend who has encountered far too many fleas in her location recommended this collar, as she says it has done a good job for her cat.
Here is another YouTube video with lots of information for new cat owners:
10) Why does he do that?
A cat does not behave like a dog. In fact, each cat has its own personality, and may not react as you expect. It can take a while for the cat to get to know you and to bond with you, but if you put some time into building a relationship, the cat will respond.
Once you get to know each other and the cat feels safe and happy in his new home, he will give you years of love and companionship.
Reading a good book on cat behavior will help you. Also, having such a book on hand can serve as a
good reference if the cat does something you don’t understand.
If you have questions about a certain subject or problem relating to cats, you may find an answer elsewhere on this website. Or, ask me a question in the comments, and if I do not have an answer, I’ll research it for you.
References I used for this post: