So, you’ve decided to introduce a kitty into the home. First off, congrats! There are many reasons why cats make great additions to the family. They are beautiful, loving, and intelligent creatures that add joy to your day. And being downright adorable doesn’t hurt!
One reason why cats are so popular is that they tend to be lower-maintenance than dogs. You don’t really have to walk cats (unless you want to and they’re amenable), and many cats don’t mind being left alone. They’re also typically self-cleaning. However, that doesn’t mean that being a cat owner doesn’t come with its own load of responsibilities and concerns. Think of it this way: you have a living, breathing creature of another species in your house to not only keep healthy, alive and well, but to also keep happy.
And Homescape Pets is in the business of healthy and happy pets! So, we’ve decided to put together this guide for new or soon-to-be cat owners:
- Do Your Homework
This one’s for anyone who is considering adopting a cat. For those who are already new cat parents, feel free to skip to step 2!
Much like dogs, cat breeds are actually quite different from another. While specific breeds will never guarantee a specific personality, it helps to know ahead of time what kind of cat will suit your household and your lifestyle best.
For instance, you may want a cat who tends to be more social and affectionate. Maybe you’re an active person and want a high-energy cat. The list goes on, but if you’re adopting from a shelter, you may want to talk to staff about the different personalities that are currently in their care. You may find the perfect companion by doing your research ahead of time!
- Set Up Their Litter Box
Don’t be fooled by the common assumption that box + sand = happy cat. Cats can be particularly finicky about their litter boxes. Cats have different preferences depending on their personality, but in general, here are the guidelines:
The rule of thumb for cat owners is to have one extra litter box per number of cats. So, if you have 1 cat, have 2 boxes. 2 cats, have 3, and so on.
Cats prefer some peace and quiet when they use the bathroom, so try to keep their boxes in the least trafficked area of the house. We recommend having uncovered boxes, as many cats don’t like to feel confined. Unscented litter is also preferred, as well as boxes that are on the bigger side so they feel they have room.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep their boxes as clean as possible. Try to scoop their box every day, washing and changing their litter at least once every week.
- Decide on Your Cat’s Diet
Again, your cat’s food isn’t your run-of-the-mill trip to the store to find whatever kibble suits your wallet. It can be, but that’s not as conducive to pet wellness as you may think. For instance, many cats thrive off of grain-free diets, and in general, wet food is better for cats. This is an area where you should do your research ahead of time to see what might be best. Be sure to stick to the advice of veterinarians.
Additionally, not every cat stops eating when they’re full. In fact, some cats vomit often for this very reason--their parents have put out a full bowl of kibble, expecting cats to graze, when in fact some cats eat themselves sick.
Instead of leaving food out all day, talk with your veterinarian to decide on portion control and feeding schedules that work best for your kitty. You can also look into giving your cat food puzzles to keep them engaged as they might be when they’re hunting!
- Get the Cat Essentials
If you like to shop, this is the fun stuff! Obviously, cats require much more than a box, food, and water. You can get creative when shopping for cat toys, but cat toys are a necessity. (Pro-tip: recycle empty toilet paper tubes and turn them into cat toys.)
Scratching trees, posts, or beds are a must for cats, who use scratching as a way of grooming their claws. And while we can’t promise that a scratching post will totally distract your cat from the couch, it certainly will help.
You’ll want to find a good cat bed for your kitty, too. Cats usually love warmth—ever catch a cat finding a patch of sunlight? In fact, cat-friendly heating pads are a great way to soothe a finicky feline or slow down their energy.
- Give Your Cat a Proper Introduction
As low-maintenance as cats can be, they actually have the potential to suffer from a great deal of anxiety. One thing that cats and dogs have in common is that they rely on routine. Sudden, big changes can cause distress in pets.
Bringing a cat into a totally new, un-marked environment can be pretty traumatic, especially if you drop them in and give them a huge new space. Many cats may find this kind of introduction overwhelming, frightening, even threatening. Some cats will even run and hide in places that are either tough to get to or inaccessible for humans to find them. You definitely don’t want that!
Try placing them in a small, confined space of the house, first. Obviously, keep their food, water, and litter box in that place. Maybe you plan on having an entire kitty room for them. Maybe you decide to keep them in the office, guest room, or even your bedroom. Either way, the ideal place to start is a room with a door so that they can familiarize themselves with this surrounding before moving on to the next. This is especially important if you have other pets. Pets should slowly get used to the scent of another pet in a non-threatening way. (Hence, the door.)
- Prepare for Exercise
As we mentioned before, cats don’t need to go on walks (and many do not take to a leash). However, cats aren’t always going to be the couch potatoes you might think they are. Sure, they sleep a lot, but they also need to release a lot of energy.
Most veterinarians recommend that you schedule in at least 15 minutes, a few times a day, to play and engage with your cat. You can also try to take them for walks with specially made cat harnesses--some cats take to walks, too! Try it out and see what works best.
But playing with your cat is especially important, because aside from getting in some exercise, you’re also providing them an opportunity to bond with you.
- Give Them All Your Love!
After all, that’s why you’re getting a cat, right? As you spend more and more time with your cat, you’ll get to learn what they love, and understand how to give it to them. That’s the best part of being a pet parent!
And one thing cats love is Companion's Best Day, formulated with organic hempseed oil and full spectrum hemp extract/CBD to help promote a healthy immune system, organ function, and overall contentment and wellness in your new cat.