Getting your first cat can be a really exciting experience! It can feel just like falling in love for the first time. A cat can be your best friend their whole life long. If you would like the experience of adopting your first cat to go smoothly, there are some things you really should know.
The Inspiration Behind This Post
Recently I came across a brand new cat blogger, Derek. He’s a really nice and funny guy that I think could fit in well with the pet blogging community. Amidst the conversation, I found out that he doesn’t have a cat of his own yet (he spends a lot of time with his neighbor’s cat), but would like to get one. His blog is helping him to research and learn about cats prior to getting one.
I let Derek know that cat bloggers are a great resource for tips and advice. He has written an insightful post asking specific questions about getting a cat that he would love to hear your answers to. If you don’t mind, please stop by www.Catsmeouch.com and add your two cents.
Know What to Expect From Cats
There are a few basics that you need to know before you even fill out an adoption form for a cat.
- According to the ASPCA, the average lifespan of a cat is 13 -17 years. Many cats live into their 20’s. Please consider how your life may change in that span of time and be ready to care for the cat it’s whole life long.
- Veterinary care costs an average of $170 per year. The first year will be more if you have to spay or neuter the cat. Make a plan for how you will pay vet bills. Cats are living creatures and no one on earth can guarantee that they won’t ever get sick.
- Cats are obligate carnivores. They have to eat animal protein to survive. If you have a problem with feeding meat to a pet, a cat is not the right pet for you.
- Cats are not mini indoor-only dogs. Don’t give up on a cat when he/she doesn’t obey you or smother you with affection in the way your dog does. Cats have their own way of showing love and affection to their humans.
- There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. Find out if anyone you live with has cat allergies before getting a cat.
- Cats require social interaction from their humans. Despite the stereotype, cats are not actually antisocial.
- A dry food diet can lead to a host of medical problems, in my opinion. Please plan to feed wet or raw food.
Choosing Your First Cat
It is really important that you adopt a cat rather than purchase one from a breeder. About half of all cats that enter shelters every year are euthanized because they are homeless. Adopting saves a life. Every age, color, breed, and size can be found at shelters and rescues – even purebreds. If you need help finding a shelter or rescue, check out Petfinder.
Another important feature of adoption is the wealth of information you can get from the volunteers. This information is vital when you are adopting your first cat! Cats don’t always act like themselves when they are out at adoption events. They get really stressed out and may be more shy or aggressive than normal. Don’t just choose the cutest kitty, ask the volunteers about the cat’s habits and personality. You want to find a cat whose personality fits well with your lifestyle. Also, ask about the cat’s health history and whether or not he/she is likely along with children or other pets you may have. Many cats with disabilities can live full, happy lives.
Adopting an older cat is a valid choice. If you choose a kitten, be prepared for a lot of work. Kittens are wonderful, but they are full of energy and they don’t have the life experience to keep them from doing potentially dangerous things. My cat, Manna, fell in the toilet when she was a kitten. I had to rescue her and bathe her. Adult cats (2 years of age or older) know how to not fall in the toilet and a lot of other things. You won’t have to baby proof your home quite as much.
Getting Your Cat Settled in At Home
Sometimes that first day at home with your cat can be a little disappointing. You will want to play and explore with your new cat, but the cat may want to hide under your bed. Don’t panic. Cats need to acclimate to their new home. Humans use their eyes to figure out where they are and whether or not it is a friendly place. Cats, on the other hand, use their nose and their ears to make those determinations. Your home smells nothing like them yet, which can be intimidating. All of the new smells and sounds need to prove themselves to be safe. Let the cat come out on his/her own time. It can take a day or two. It may even take a couple of weeks before you can really see your cat’s true personality. Don’t give up!
It can be helpful to keep your new cat in one room with the door closed for a while. Place their litter box, food and water dishes, and some toys in that room. This will help with the anxiety listed above and help them to locate their litter box, etc. Kittens can get lost in a big house and have trouble finding that litter box again. Be prepared to move the litter box if you find that your cat has a preferred place to go potty. It is better to compromise with a cat than it is to fight them on things.