Guest Blogger: Jessica Brody of OurBestFriends.pet
Cats can be wonderful companions, but they are also a commitment. Many new owners overlook things and find themselves saddled with unexpected expenses or frustrated by situations they couldn’t foresee. That’s why doing what you can to prepare for bringing home a feline friend is so important.
Here are some helpful tips for every stage of cat ownership.
Choosing Your Cat
You may have already made up your mind that you are getting a cat instead of a dog, rabbit, or ferret. However, the decision-making process is far from over. You still need to decide what specific cat will fit best with your personality and lifestyle. The Humane Society of the United States recommends thinking about the following things before deciding on a breed or specific cat:
Age of pet. Do you want (and have the patience and energy for) a kitten? Or would you be happier with an older cat?
Who/what the cat will be around. Young children and kittens are often a bad mix. If you have other animals, you need to consider compatibility there, too.
Personality. Is your ideal companion mellow or high energy?
Fur length. How committed to cleanliness and grooming are you?
Breed. If you are set on a purebred cat, do your research and understand what medical conditions you may be faced with down the road. However, keep in mind that breed is not a guarantee of health or temperament. Make sure you work with a reputable breeder or speak to your local rescue -- many purebred animals are abandoned and in need of a forever home.
Preparing Your Home
You’ve decided on a specific kind of cat. Now it’s time to prepare your home for his arrival. You will need to buy all the necessary pet supplies, such as food and water bowls, food, collar and identification tag, comfortable bed, fun toys, a place to perch, scratching post, brush, litter box, and grooming supplies. (Tip! Stay consistent when it comes to cat food. Buy the same food the kitten or cat is already eating. If you want to switch foods, introduce your preferred food in gradually over time in order to give your cat’s stomach the time to adjust.)
After Your Cat Arrives
Your cat will need time to acclimate to his new surroundings. The process can take several weeks for even the most adaptable cat. During this crucial time, make sure your new cat cannot escape through open windows or doors. Be prepared for the cat to be standoffish. Cats need time to get used to you, and until they do, they may be reclusive and hide from you. This behavior is normal and will go away once your cat begins to associate you with compassion and a secure living environment.
Cats have a reputation for being independent, but they do require some training and guidance. If your cat isn’t already litter-box trained, begin that process right away. If you don’t want your cat on furniture, you need to begin that training process right away, too.
Above all else, remember to be patient.
Look Ahead to the Future
With so much to do during the first few stages of cat ownership, it can be easy to overlook non-immediate issues, like thinking about what you are going to do when you go out of town. However, responsible owners have a plan in place for keeping their cat comfortable while they are away on vacation. USA Today notes that most cats prefer to stay home in their familiar surroundings, so traveling with them is not ideal. Hiring a cat sitter is a perfect solution. A caring cat sitter will make sure your cat is fed, empty the litter box, and provide mental and social stimulation for your cat while you enjoy stress-free time away.
Emergency preparedness is also very important; you should take measures in advance to reduce the chances of your cat escaping during a natural disaster. Make sure your cat’s microchipping, collar, and vaccinations are up to date. Decide on a facility that your cat can stay at in an emergency, or choose a safe place in your house if you decide to remain at home. If you can’t get home during the emergency, ask a local animal shelter to retrieve your cat. Choose a neighbor for an emergency contact and communicate your emergency pet plan with them. Lastly, if your cat does escape, provide information to local rescues, shelters, social media, and online community boards.
Caring for a cat is a commitment, but the reward of companionship makes it worth it. With proper planning, you and your cat can enjoy many wonderful years together.
Photo via Pixabay