When it comes to owning your first cat, there’s a lot that you’ll have to learn along the way. Cats aren’t just the playful fur balls that we see in viral videos, and they must be given attention and taken care of in order for them to be comfortable. If you’re thinking about making a trip to the shelter to pick up your first cat, here’s what you need to know before you choose to make the commitment.
Cats need to be taken for regular vet visits, even when nothing appears to be wrong with them. This will ensure that the vet can pick up on any early infections and treat them before they grow more complex to treat. That said, you will also have to vaccinate your cat on a yearly basis for your cat to stay protected from common viral infections such as rabies and respiratory diseases. Your vet may also prescribe some supplements to keep your cat in optimal health, and will always advise you to spay or neuter your cat.
It’s probably not news to you that cats can damage furniture by clawing through fabric. This is something that cats are naturally inclined to do in order to file their claws and prevent them from overgrowing, which can be very uncomfortable and dangerous to cats. While you cannot change a cat’s instinct, you can purchase unique furniture that matches your interior décor designed to be scratched by your cat, so you don’t have to worry about destroyed furniture. The plus side is, modern cat furniture is designed in a way that makes it easily fit in with your home’s modern appearance.
Many new owners often grab the first dry food brand that they see, or usually pick the cheapest kind, but cat diet is trickier than you think. Dry food can be dehydrating for cats, especially cheaper kinds that contain high traces of sodium. Always ask your vet for cat food brands in your area that you can buy, and don’t be surprised when you’re asked to purchase medical-grade food, which can be more expensive than your usual grocery store brands. Even if your cat’s diet is primarily dependent on dry food, make sure it eats some homemade food every now and then. It should also be provided lots of water to avoid dehydration, which can cause very serious complications in cats.
Bonding with your new cat will not be immediate. Cats can be quite finicky, and depending on the age of the cat you adopt, it may take weeks to months for your cat to grow attached to you. Younger cats may grow a liking to you in a matter of days, but senior cats that have been relocated from home to home may take a little more time to adapt to their new family. Always give your cat the space it needs. Never force a new cat to interact with you, and never pet a scared cat because that may make the cat associate being touched with fear, which will make it more difficult for you to bond with it.
Always make sure you create a safe space for your new cat, where it can hide, before you adopt it. This space should include the cat’s litter box, ample food and water. Leave your cat be, and give it the space to explore its new home on its own. When it’s done exploring, it will always make the first approach. Never look a new cat in the eye, and only attempt to pet a scared cat while it’s eating from its food bowl, distracted by the meal. Whatever you do, do not carry your new cat if it’s still wary around you. Allow it to hide as often as it wants to until it comes out on its own.
If you’ve previously owned a dog, you may assume that cats are the kinds of animals that can be disciplined by a punishment-reward system, but that’s only half true. Cats can only be encouraged to act in a certain way, but if you punish a cat by yelling or generally being hostile, this will not work and will only make your cat distrustful around you and other family members.
Always make sure that you prep your home before adopting your first cat. Give your cat some space, and the time to adapt to its new home. Some cats may take weeks to grow comfortable with their new home. The most effective way of quickly growing on your cat is to afford it ample food and water in a place where it can see them, and let them be. Eventually, they will approach you, and you’ll be able to develop a bond from there.