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First Time Cat Owner Guide

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
First Time Cat Owner Guide

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When we decide to adopt a cat for the first time, we will probably experience many concerns or doubts. It's normal to feel out your depth when preparing for the arrival of a kitten. They need certain accessories, and many feel lost when deciding what is the best food or best bed for their new furry addition to the family.

Because of this, AnimalWised want to put your mind at ease and inform you of what cats are in need of before you introduce them to their new home. Follow our first time cat owner guide and you will have a perfect set up, ready for your little friend. Likewise, it's important to know how to act the first few days they are in your home, so we'll cover that too. Let's begin!

You may also be interested in: Understanding Cat Behavior - A Complete Guide

1. Drinking trough and feeder

Free cats make many small meals throughout the day, therefore, the ideal set up is that your cat has fresh water and food at their disposal 24 hours a day. The containers should be located away from the litter tray and, if possible, quite far from each other.

Decant food and water into easily washable containers of sufficient size so that our cat can eat and drink without their whiskers rubbing the edges, as this is very annoying for them. You may notice that your cat will often eat only the food that is in the center of the trough for this same reason.

The ideal is to choose stainless and ceramic drinking troughs, being very careful to correctly position the latter, as they could break when falling from a high place. Of course, avoid plastic containers altogether. In addition, if we want to encourage our cat to drink water, the ideal is to choose a fountain that will attract them because they will constantly have running water.

Feeding your cat

Before the arrival of the cat to your home you must have already prepared the food that you will offer them, this is of course one of the most necessary things for the cat. Ideally, you should be informed about what kind of food they have received previously. Then you can evaluate to if this is adequate and continue with it, or start a transition process.

To change a cat's food to a new one, follow this step by step, it will help you avoid several digestive problems:

  1. Start by mixing 80% of old food with 20% of new food.
  2. After a few days, reduce the amount of previous food, for example using 60% of old food and 40% of new food.
  3. Follow this process proportionately for one or two weeks until the food you offer is 100% the new one.

It is not always easy to choose a good cat food. The ideal is to analyze the composition in detail until finding a good quality feed based on fresh ingredients. Remember that the cat is a completely carnivorous animal, so you must not try to implement a diet based on cereals and vegetables.

It will also be important to choose food according to the age or needs of the feline. On the market we find feed specifically for kittens, adults and elderly cats, but also for sterilized cats, overweight cats or felines with different health problems.

You can also choose to implement the barf diet, however, when talking about homemade recipes, we always recommend consulting your vet beforehand to avoid nutritional deficiencies and prevent different health problems.

First Time Cat Owner Guide - 1. Drinking trough and feeder

2. Comfy bed

Our cats can sleep up to 20 hours when they are adults and, in order to enjoy that rest, they need a place where they feel comfortable and safe.

Depending on the character of our cat, they will have some preferences, but usually they like their place covered, where they feel more protected. In addition, they also usually look for elevated sites where they can "control" or monitor everything.

On the market you will find all kinds of beds and accessories for your cat. However, even if you opt for the most beautiful and expensive bed for your cat, they may decide to sleep by a box with a blanket. There is no need for you to splash out on your kitten, save that for those unavoidable eterinary bills.

The "nest" type bed is one of the indispensable elements for cats, especially if they will live with other animals. It will serve as a shelter if they don't want to socialize or just want to rest completely without being disturbed.

3. Scratching post

The quintessential cat accessory is the scratching post. This allows them, apart from filing down their nails, to exercise and mark their territory. If we do not provide them with a scratching post, you will most likely find them scratching your curtains, sofas and furniture in general.

The right scratching post should meet a number of requirements that all cats prefer. First it must be located in one of the main areas of the house, if we leave it hidden in a corner our cat will look for another object where they can perform their "manicure".

In addition, it is desirable that the scratching post be high enough so your cat can fully stretch when they use it and stable enough so that it does not move when the cat jumps over it. If you also choose a scratching tower with several tiers, this will serve as their gym and help them stay in shape, helping them avoid being overweight.

At this point we want to clarify that declawing cats is never an option. If your cat does not use the scratching post, use catnip or valerian (herbs that attract cats) to encourage them to use it or to place pieces of food or their favorite toys in the different parts of the scratching post.

Of course, during the first few days your cat is home, completely avoid nagging them if they sharpen their nails on your furniture or sofas. They need a process of adaptation and punishments, regardless of being very ineffective, can make your relationship worse. It is best that you try to distract them and bring them closer to their scratching post, with the use of our suggested methods.

Check out our article on choosing a cat scratching post for more thorough tips and tricks.

First Time Cat Owner Guide - 3. Scratching post

4. Litter box

On the market there are many types of litter trays, and in most cases, the right one will depend more on your cat than on you. Closed trays are very comfortable because they avoid odors, but sometimes your cat will reject it because they usually prefer the trays uncovered.

In addition, we must ensure that the edges are low to facilitate entry and exit, and should be located in a quiet place, without drafts and away from feeders and drinking fountains.

Ideally, you should have as many trays as cats at home plus one. That is, if we live with two cats, the ideal is to have 3 litter boxes. Of course, sometimes, if we have several cats in a small apartment, it will not always be possible to have many litter boxes. In this case, regular cleaning will be essential if you do not want them to do their business in inappropriate places!

5. Carrier

The carrier is a basic tool for you to be able to move with your cat safely. Although you shouldn't be traveling with your kitten, you may need to take them to the vet, or in cases of moving or in an emergency. It is an indispensable security element.

So that your cat does not have a negative view of the carrier, ideally it is usually available as a place to rest or eat, so when we make veterinary visits, it will be much easier to access. You can positively associate the carrier by leaving tasty treats inside or their favorite toys. The use of a fluffy or similar blanket can also be very interesting.

In order for the carrier to be safe and comfortable, it is preferable that it is detachable, so it will be easier to remove the cat at the vets and to clean with ease. In addition, it is recommended that it be rigid and plastic for easy cleaning and is safer in case of a car accident.

First Time Cat Owner Guide - 5. Carrier

6. Window protection

Cats are gossips by nature and love to research, explore and discover new smells. If we live in a flat we must protect our windows because falls are much more frequent than we actually think.

Your cat will not jump without a reason, but they may try to hunt something or simply stumble and fall, so it is better to take precautions. It is not useful to place a mosquito net, as these are not resistant enough, we must opt ​​for a specific mesh for these cases that we can find in many pet stores. Make sure you secure it very well.

7. Environmental Enrichment and Stimulation

Last but not least, it is essential to talk about the enrichment that a cat requires, as well as physical and mental stimulation. All this will affect their emotional well-being and avoid behavioral problems.

Environmental enrichment for cats consists of different factors that will provide a better quality of life, like visual stimuli or odors, for example. The use of catnip and walking structures are an example of this.

Playing with us is also important because it allows them to socialize and exercise. Remember that cats do not have fun playing alone, so dedicating each day to sessions of playtime with them can be very beneficial to stimulate them well. You can use intelligence toys, food dispensing toys, fishing rods or simply a session of massage and relaxation.

Do not forget that cats, although they are more independent than dogs, are very sociable animals and need to relate to others to be happy. Spend time with your best friend and provide them with the best quality of life possible.

First Time Cat Owner Guide - 7. Environmental Enrichment and Stimulation

If you want to read similar articles to First Time Cat Owner Guide, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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Adam Stratton
I have to agree with the valid points you make in your article because I see things like you. Additionally, your content is interesting and really good reading material. Thank you for sharing your talent.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Adam,

Thank you so much for the encouragement, it is always appreciated. Keep coming back and we'll try to keep meeting these standards.

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