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7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: December 10, 2017
7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make

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Are you determined to adopt a cat and welcome it to your home? Congratulations! Besides being fun, and very affectionate animals that will make your life happier. Cats are clean pets, it is not necessary to take them for a walk walk and adapt well to life in an apartment.

Although cats are animals that are easy to maintain and care for, it is important to know some typical mistakes in their upbringing to prevent unwanted behavior. At AnimalWised we'll explain what are the 7 biggest mistakes first time cat owners make so that it's easier for you to care for the new member of the family.

You may also be interested in: First Time Cat Owner Guide

1. Thinking that a cat is like a dog

Unlike dogs, cats in the wild or feral cats are solitary hunters and, although they can form social groups with a defined hierarchy, they are generally more independent and less hierarchical than dogs.
Therefore, and although there are cats that are much more submissive and affectionate than some dogs, if you are looking for an extremely faithful animal companion that shows unconditional love and obedience, the cat is not the right choice. In this case, it is better to adopt a dog to avoid disappointments and frustrations.

On the other hand, you should not forget that when a cat looks for the company and affection of their owner it is because they really want their attention and because they feel comfortable with them, not due to their instinct or because they consider you a reference figure, and this is something cat owners value very positively.

7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make - 1. Thinking that a cat is like a dog

2. Neglecting a cat's education

Cats are harder to train than dogs, as they are much less hierarchical, as mentioned above. Creating a bond with your pet is fundamental, and this is why it is important for the cat to see their human as something positive and associate their presence with good stimuli.While with dogs you should use clear, coherent and simple orders, to educate cats it is necessary to gain their trust first.
In many cases, taking advantage the sense of hierarchy in dogs, you will simply give balanced, simple and consistent orders, but with cats you 'must earn them over".
Playing regularly with the cat and correcting them when they have done something wrong with clear orders and without using violence or force is essential. Cats also respond well to positive reinforcement, although it is not as easy as in the case of dogs.

7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make - 2. Neglecting a cat's education

3. Adopting when they are too young

One of the most common mistakes made by fist time cat owners is to adopt a kitten is to adopt them too early, sometimes even shortly after birth. The ideal is to do it once weaning ends, which should occur naturally and never before they reach one month of life.
Even if they receive all the necessary care and proper nutrition, it is always better for the animal's health to be with their mother throughout the lactation period. With the mother and the cat's siblings, socialization begins and the cat begins to learn all the typical behaviors of their species.
On the other hand, we must not forget the importance of the period of socialization [1] [2] of these animals, which occurs between two and seven weeks of age, is convenient to present stimuli that they will encounter throughout their lives so they do not recognize them as something new and dangerous.
If a kitten has not finished their period of vaccination this does not mean that they should be in a "cat bubble" or isolated from the world, and that you can not invite people or animals home even though they have not ended their vaccination schedule.

However, if other animals come to the house where your cat lives, is necessary to ensure that they are not aggressive, are not sick and are properly vaccinated and dewormed.

7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make - 3. Adopting when they are too young

4. Not vaccinating or de-worming a cat

Another fairly common mistake when caring for a cat is not to provide them with veterinary attention they need by thinking that, as they don't leave home, they can't catch any diseases or have parasites.

The risks of a cat that lives in a house are not the same than for a cat that has access to the outside and this is why there are protocols of specific vaccines for each one of the situations. Consult with a veterinarian and define a vaccine schedule that is adapted to your pet's characteristics and lifestyle.
Regarding external deworming (against fleas and ticks, especially) and internal dewormin (intestinal worms), it is recommended to deworm internally every 3 months and apply a monthly anti-fleas product, mainly in the summer months. Check out some home remedies for deworming catsfor more information.

In addition, in some places the law requires them to get vaccinated against certain diseases and to maintain a minimum frequency in the internal deworming. Thus, for example, in certain countries rabies vaccinations in cats and deworming internally once a year is compulsory with a product effective against Echinococcus (a type of tapeworm).

7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make - 4. Not vaccinating or de-worming a cat

5. Not considering sterilizing your cat

Breeding season for cats can bring some behaviors that may seem uncomfortable for humans, in addition to some dangers to a kitten's health. It is in spring and summer that cats are in heat for about a week, with breaks of around one or two weeks in between.

In cats that live inside the home, this time can last for longer, as the lighting and the house temperature are constant, it is difficult for the body of the animal to detect seasonal changes.

In this period, many males try to escape when they perceive that there is a female cat in heat nearby and can even be aggressive with other males. Castration decreases this behavior and its associated risks.


Cats that have outdoor access must be sterilized. Otherwise, it is very likely that in a short time they will have numerous and most likely unwanted offspring. In addition, sterilization can prevent diseasesand help avoid behavioral problems such as urine marking.

7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make - 5. Not considering sterilizing your cat

6. Not avoiding hairball ingestion in cats

In general, there are not many mistakes made in relation to a cat's feeding, but one of them is not using a specific product to avoid the formation of hair balls in these animals' stomach.
As explained in our article on balls of hair in cats, they are very clean animals, which are groomed regularly and can ingest large amounts of hair, so they can form hairballs and cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Fortunately, there are products made from malt available in veterinary centers and specialized stores that are very useful to prevent this problem. There are even specific feeds to avoid problems caused by hairballs.

7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make - 6. Not avoiding hairball ingestion in cats

7. Overweight in neutered cats

Another big mistake some cat owners make is not controlling their weight, mainly in sterilized animals. Castrated cats have a tendency to gain more weight due to hormonal issues, so it is recommended to provide them with a a low calorie diet or feed specifically designed for sterilized cats, which includes this fact in its composition.
However, even if they are fed light food, you must give the cat the amount recommended by your vet. If your cat is taking low-calorie feed but your cat is still eating an uncontrolled amount of feed, they will keep putting weight on. This type of feed has less calories, which is why your cat may not feel as full.

If you want to know more about overweight cats, we recommend reading our post about obesity in cats.

7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make - 7. Overweight in neutered cats

If you want to read similar articles to 7 Biggest Mistakes First Time Cat Owners Make, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

References
  1. Horwitz Mills, D. D., 2012. BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine.
  2. 2011 a. Houpt. Domestic Animal Behavior for Veterinarians & Animal Scientists. 5th ed Wiley-Blackwell.

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I have got a Norwegian(but later I found out,she is a Syberian forest cat,because of her heavy prolific fur).Taken from leaving behind by her owner.During a removal they could not catch her.No excuse for her leaving behind,that is! They should be punished for that!
A great cat,that requires LOVE and lots of attention! And if so,you'll get all this back! And..yes...prolific fur,and lots of licking,...well....so...at times she produces hair balls.(she never comes outside anymore)She is now an iside cat,so at times I have to remove those hair balls.No problem,they are easily to remove.
But...a great friend she is!!

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