Top Tips for First-Time Cat Owners
So, you’ve popped into the pet store and bought the all-important scratching posts, bowls and litter trays for your new cat. But, before you roll out the red carpet for your new fluffy family member, it’s a good idea to know a little more about their needs.
Making sure they’re happy is one of the most important – and most rewarding – aspects of being a cat owner, and, while many first time cat owners say they learn through trial and error, it’s still useful to read up on what to expect.
From setting routines, knowing how often to feed them and how to play with them, these are some useful cat tips for first time owners.
How to prepare for a new cat
Before you even pick up your new cat, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all the essentials they’ll need. Among the things you’ll need for your new cat are: food and water bowls, and food; a bed; a litter tray; and a sturdy cat carrier.
You’ll also need to get them a brush, a scratching post and some toys. These are definitely areas for trial and error though, as cats have very different tastes in what they like to play with, their grooming preferences, and how they like to keep their claws healthy.
It’s also worth spending some time making sure your home is a safe and welcoming space for them. Things we take for granted can be potentially dangerous for cats, as our blog on pets and plants shows.
Bringing a new cat home for the first time
Introducing your new cat to your home is really exciting but it can be very overwhelming for them. Taking it slowly and giving them plenty of space and privacy will help them to feel at home quickly.
Cats Protection has a useful guide to welcoming a cat home. It recommends setting aside a quiet room for them, with essentials such as a bed, litter tray and food and water, so they can settle in before exploring further.
Helping your new cat feel at home
Once they’ve relaxed, you can introduce them to the rest of the house and your family. Although some cats will be happy to get acquainted, others will be more timid. If they hide, don’t be discouraged – lots of cats find solace in confined spaces when they move into new surroundings.
To make sure they’re comfortable, free up some space under beds and behind sofas before they move in; this way, they can easily spot a “safe place” to calm down in. Playing with them and talking gently to them will help them gain their confidence.
Looking after your cat’s health
You’ll also need to think about your new cat’s health. Cats need regular treatment against fleas and worms plus vaccinations against cat flu and feline enteritis.
You might also want to consider taking out pet insurance for your new cat. Visit the Co-op Insurance pet insurance website to find out more and get a quote.
Getting your cat neutered
An unneutered female cat can produce 18 kittens a year so it’s really important to get them neutered. The Blue Cross recommends cats are neutered at around four months old before they become sexually mature but even older cats can be neutered.
There are added benefits to getting them neutered. These include a reduced risk of breast cancer in females, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) in males. It also means they are less likely to walk into busy streets (while looking for a mate) and be stressed when they are indoors.
What to feed your cat
As a new owner, it won’t be long before you’re attuned to your cat’s feeding schedule. If you’re unsure at first what their preferences are, give them the choice of both wet and dry food to see which they enjoy most.
If, on the other hand, you have adopted a cat, they will probably already have a feeding routine in place, so make sure to check in with the previous owners about their favourite food, and when they are typically fed.
If, for any reason, you need to introduce new foods to your cat’s diet, make sure to do so gradually, as sudden changes can cause tummy troubles.
How often to feed your cat
If you opt for dry food, remember that it is more calorie-dense than fresh wet food, so it should only be given to your cat once a day. In contrast, if you’re opting for wet food, you should feed it to your cat at least twice daily.
And don’t be fooled by their constant baying for treats – just stick to your routine and they will soon get used to their new feeding time. If you do want to give them treats, our blog on healthy pet treats will give you some ideas.
How to play with cats
Cats love to play and toys will keep them amused as well as helping to promote exercise. But before you leave them alone with their prized feathery mouse, don’t forget that cats get the best mental stimulation when you get involved too.
Whether you’re dangling a fluffy fishing rod or catapulting a ball of string, any play that you and your cat share will help to strengthen your bond, so don’t forget to set time aside for playtime.
Just remember that kittens and adult cats require different levels of exercise. Young cats, for instance, are very excitable and need around ten play sessions a day, while older cats only require around three to four sessions a day.
Check out our blog on how to entertain your pet for some more inspiration.
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