Every pet owner has to start somewhere. Many of us grow up with pets as children, others dream of having a pet when we get our own home. As a new cat owner you may have wished to have your own pet cat but may be a little unsure how to prepare your home and care for your pet in the first instance. Here are five top tips to help you get started as a new cat owner.
New Cat Owner? Here’s what to do …
So, you’ve finally caved and got that adorable kitten you’ve been wanting for ages. Who wouldn’t want one? With those cute little paws and the promise of unconditional love. It’s really a no-brainer. In fact, with one study showing that over a period of 10 years, cat owners were “30% less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke”. You could say that cats are actually the perfect anti-stress treatment. Additionally, they’re ideal for people who still want a pet but have a busy schedule that wouldn’t suit a dog. Cats are extremely self-sufficient and solitary creatures, meaning, although they still love a cuddle, they’re also happy to be left alone to do their own thing.
Despite this, it’s important to understand that cats still require a certain level of care and affection. Although they can survive on their own in the wild, as their owner they will still rely on you for several things. Deciding to get a cat should not be a quick decision. And as a new cat owner you should really think about how your lifestyle might have to adapt before taking on this responsibility. Bearing this in mind, if you’re still eager to get a cat or kitten, these five tips for new cat owners will help you create a safe and happy environment for your new arrival.
Create a ‘Safe Space’
While many cats will just roam around your whole house when they feel more comfortable (yes, there comes a point when they basically think they own it!), it’s important to create a safe space for your new cat for on arrival. Although as a new cat owner you might be thinking you’ll donate a whole room to your feline, it could equally be a small area for their bed and food. This should be the first area that you introduce them to when they arrive at your home.
If you’re unsure where to position this area, or what should be in it, consider asking the previous owner for ideas. Additionally, it’s always good to steer clear of any loud machines. Cats can be scared of loud noises and placing their bed near a washing machine or dryer may cause unnecessary anxiety for your cat. If possible, their bed space should be in a quiet area that isn’t frequently used.
As an additional tip, make sure you leave the cat in their carry cage with the door open in this area when they first arrive. Don’t touch or forcefully move the cat; they should start to come out when they feel comfortable enough. This will allow them to feel safe and secure in the space.
Introduce the Litter Box
Introducing your new cat to the litter box is extremely important, especially if you don’t want to be mopping up ‘accidents’ several times a day. Before getting your cat, it may be beneficial to ask the previous owners what litter and litter tray the cat uses. Some cats are particular and don’t take well to litter box changes! So, to help you save on cleaning time, make sure you choose the right litter and box. If you’re getting a kitten, you may want to opt for an open litter box, as some kittens may feel too scared to go into an enclosed space. If you’ve asked the previous owners or shop and are still unsure, the safest option would be clumping clay litter. This is widely used and many cats adapt to this easily.
When filling your litter tray, it’s vital that the litter is only 2-3 inches deep. Overfilling can cause litter overflow when the cat covers their waste. Underfilling on the other hand, may mean that there is not enough litter to fully absorb any liquids. This will lead to unpleasant odours. As a general rule, don’t keep the box close to their food bowls, and make sure they are shown where it is when they arrive. To ensure your cat doesn’t contract any health problems, the litter tray should be emptied at least once a day.
Choose the Right Food
With so many different brands out there, choosing the right food for your cat can be an overwhelming task. Like with humans, food can have a drastic effect on your cat’s health and wellbeing. So, while many do just buy the cheapest option, always research first. Go for brands that include the right nutrients for your cat. And, as a bonus, better food generally means less trips to the vet! Additionally, you may want to look at online options like Time for Paws, which offers an extensive range of high-quality pet food and pet supplies. Not only do they deliver exceptional quality of food, but they also cater for all budgets. So, whether you’re a tight budget new cat owner, or looking to spend a bit more, Time for Paws is the perfect pet shop for you.
Depending on your cat’s age and health circumstances, they may have different food needs. For example, sterilised cats generally have a lower metabolism which can mean they need low-fat foods. If you are unsure which food your cat should be eating, it may be beneficial to talk to your vet.
Microchipping your cat is the perfect way to keep them safe. While many cats won’t go too far from their home, their inquisitive nature can lead to them getting lost. Before getting your new cat, you may want to check if it has already been microchipped. This can be done very easily at your vets. If not, you may want to enquire about getting your cat chipped. This is usually a simple procedure that can be done at most vets and involves inserting a very small chip between the shoulder blades at the back of your cats neck. Unlike collars, microchips are permanent methods of electrical identification. After the microchip is inserted, you should be provided with an identification number which will allow you to track your cat should they go missing.
Depending on your cat’s likes and dislikes, you may want to invest in some cat accessories. It will help them feel more welcome and comfortable in your home. While strings and jingly toys are popular, the most important accessories include scratching poles and grooming materials.
These are vital for your cat’s health and wellbeing. Although cats are self-grooming, brushing your cat can help with shedding and any tangles in their fur. It not only leaves them Instagram worthy for you, but it also helps improve circulation for the cat. While a cat pole isn’t an essential, cats love to sharpen their claws. They will scratch their claws whether you provide a scratching pole or not! So, no scratching pole may actually mean forking out more money than you bargained for.
At the end of the day, as a new cat owner it’s important to listen to your cat. While this may be hard at the beginning, you’ll find this it gets easier as they settle in your home. Remember that, while they’re solitary creatures, most cats still love affection. So make sure you give them lots of attention and love!
FURTHER READING FOR CAT OWNERS