First Time Cat Owner

What you need to know.

So, you’ve seen those pretty photos of cats, the cute videos online, seen them perhaps playing together in the street or park and don’t they look adorable? Yes, of course a furry four-legged friend is exactly what your life and home needs.

You have made your decision to become a cat owner, but you now have a minefield of practical issues that need to be investigated to ensure that taking on the responsibility of owning a pet is beneficial to both you and the cat.

There are many breeds of cats, long haired and short, and yes, even hairless! Consideration should be taken if you have allergies, as this could prove detrimental to the positive experience of cat ownership. Consideration must be given if there are other pets in the home. Your living environment is important, and if you rent you should confer with landlords etc to ensure this is possible.

You would be best served to ensure you are financially stable as there are many areas that a cat requires that extra bit of money! A good health insurance should be investigated, as there are many on the market, but this is a very worthwhile and sensible purchase.

Socializing, playtime, training, grooming, and feeding are all new issues that you will be responsible for as a first-time cat owner. Embrace it all to enjoy the experience of a new life with your kitty.

 

What supplies you need

Litter Box – A litter box is essential, but often advised to purchase two, perhaps for different areas of your home, or to always have a clean one available. There are many cat litters on the market, one is Pretty Litter. This is a remarkable cat litter as the gel changes color for various health related issues, thus saving your cat continued ill health and you the reassurance of ensuring your cats wellbeing, it also eliminates smells in the home. Pretty Litter is a good place to start but also we want you to check out the  5 Best Cat Litters to see which ones works best for you.

Water and Food BowlsWater/ food bowls need to be appropriate in sizing for your cat, not just to match the décor in your kitchen! Do not free feed your cat, even at the beginning, it encourages bad habits and lessens the chance of them becoming overweight.

Cat Bed – A good cat bed will make sure your new cat is comfortable and feels secure, this encourages them to feel safe in its environment.

Cat Carrier – A Cat Carrier will be required for those trips to the veterinary, make sure you purchase one that is big enough. Cat carriers are a great way to ensure that any journey out with the home is in comfort for your cat but remember to make sure you place something inside to make them feel secure, cats find going on journeys traumatic, and you need to minimize this feeling. They also like to travel in comfort!

Scratching Post – A scratching post or tree is a must for any cat, as they like to mark their territory. This will also save your furniture in the long run! Cats stretch a lot as it improves their blood flow, ready to pounce!

Cat Collar w/ID – Cat collars with ID are a necessary item, with contact details of yourself, just in case the unthinkable occurs. The collar should have an automatic release that disengages if your cat gets stuck in a bush or tree. A harness for out walking is a good investment as this causes less pressure on the cat’s neck.

You may wish to look into getting your new feline friend chipped. Your vet can advise you on this.

The most essential item that should be in place when you bring your new cat home, is food. There are many on the market, all promising the best for your feline friend, but you should read up on best nutrition for cats prior to purchasing. Remember too much dried foods in their diet can cause ill health in the adult cat.

One item that you will definitely need, but do not need to purchase, is a comfort zone in your home, for when you bring them to their new abode. This will hopefully assist with making your new pet comfortable and reassured in their new home.

Check out the First time cat owner checklist article..

Training Tips

The best way to train your cat is to remember that any attention is better than no attention. So, this is where so many cat owners make the mistake, the cat is on the kitchen surface, and what do they do? Yep, they go and grab the kitty off the counter and scold it, cats do not comprehend scolding! So, the feline has now got the attention, so it does it again and again! This cycle can be broken, often by ignoring what the cat is doing or distracting it, try it, it works.

Can you train your cat? Yes of course you can. Cats have historically been known to be standoffish, but this is not the case. Cats will engage with training, a good place to start is calling them to you. Make the sessions around five minutes long twice a day, using a clicker to call them and a tasty treat as reward. Over time you can reduce the treats but increase the distance of calling them to you.

Training your cat to use the litter tray is a must. This should be introduced on their arrival in their new home. Sit them in it and let them smell and investigate, put them in the litter tray after meals and again after a nap and you will find they will soon understand it’s use.

Using the cat flap can be encouraged by again, using treats to encourage your new home dweller to leave and enter their home by this route. They will quickly understand the benefits of this, as it gives them a new world to explore. A word of caution here, make sure you are outside with them the first few times, as a new world can be a daunting place.

As with everything, we only have a short attention span, so don’t overload your kitty with unrealistic expectations, keep to one training program ensuring they have learnt the outcome before moving on, consistency works, and time and patience will reap the rewards.

From novelty tricks like sitting or giving a paw, to agility tournaments cats, can be trained in many ways. Contrary to belief, they are easily trainable if given time, patience and attention, and you will find a new connection with your four-legged friend.

Cat Behavior -Things you need to know

Yes of course cats have issues too…

Occasionally you may find your cat eating the cat litter. There can be many reasons for this and should be investigated, as your kitty may be unwell. Frequently referred to as pica (the eating of non-food items), it is best to discourage this activity. Often giving time and attention to your cat or playing with them will stop this behavior.

Both male and female cats (under six months old) can spray, it is their way of marking their territory, but by giving your cat the attention it requires, this can be minimized. It is advised to spay or neuter your feline friend around six months old, this will stop or at least minimize spraying.

Scratching is another cat behavioral practice that often occurs with our cats, of course you have your scratching post which should be encouraged to be used. But remember that your cat does not understand that scratching the furniture is bad practice, to them it is acceptable, it is quite simply what they do. Cats do not comprehend scolding as perhaps a dog would, they do however understand the pleasure of touch, so give them that extra head rub when they do something that is right to us!

Aggression in adult cats is an unfortunate situation but can be remedied in most cases. Finding the source of the aggression is key, this may take some time, but worthwhile for a happy kitty in the long run. Interrupting the aggressive behavior can be managed by diverting tactics and works well. Another thing that works are Calming diffusers and sprays which are often a good remedy. Other mental stimulation and play time are good distraction techniques, take that squeaky mouse and throw it for them!

There may be a health reason for continued aggressive behavior, this should be investigated with your veterinary practice.

What we see as “bad behavior,” your cat does not. Their world is made up very differently from yours, they may have come from a rescue center, been abused, or have life experiences that you will never know or understand. Do not attempt to deal with behavioral issues physically. Cats do not like water so keeping a spray bottle handy is one way of trying to decrease those bad behaviors. This can be a successful way to discipline your cat when bad. Cats are very clever creatures so make sure they do not see what you are getting, you need stealth in deploying this action.

 

Finally, rewarding your cat for good behavior is crucial to minimizing undesirable actions or habits. If you happen to see them exiting their litter box before use for example, spend a bit of time with them, there. By simply giving your cat attention by stroking or playing briefly with them is sufficient reward for continued good behaviors. It does not always have to be a treat, but love, affection and attention is your kitty’s favorite reward.

Staying on top of your Cat’s Health

Your cat is now part of your family and therefore, their health is just as important as everyone else’s. As with any living creature there are many health issues that can occur throughout their life.

First of all you should think about joining a pet health sharing program such as Eusoh. It’s a community health sharing plan that reimburses you for your pet’s medical, wellness, illness and routine care expenses which is way less expensive than your typical pet insurance.

Dental! The build-up of dental plaque can cause serious health issues for your new found friend. Cleaning your cat’s teeth is an important routine and should be introduced as soon as you can. This can minimize many diseases that, if unchecked will lead to serious health conditions.

Tapeworm can be an issue for your cat but as they contract this nasty bug by swallowing a flea, it is always good practice to ensure your cat is protected by this. There are many medications on the market for eradicating fleas including foams, oral medication, sprays, or topical medication. Seek guidance from your veterinary practice for the best one for your cat.

While cats are good at self-maintenance, they often cannot manage to deal with excessive hair and should be groomed regularly. If not, vomiting can occur, you’ve heard of the expression “a hairball”, well they cause many health issues if not attended to. There are many reasons for your cat to vomit, these include infection, urinary tract disease, or diabetes and should always be investigated.

Cats often contract Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), this may be due to being overfed or eating only dried foods, stress can also bring this condition on, say if you have more than one cat in the home. The symptoms can range from: drinking more fluids, straining to urinate, bloody urine, urinating in unusual places, depression, lack of appetite, vomiting. Another reason to purchase that health insurance.

These are just a few health issues your cat may or may not contract in its life with you, a common sense approach is always a good idea as you want your cat to live as healthily as possible.

 

Q & A

Q What should I know if getting a cat?

A Make sure there is not too much stimulation for the first twenty-four hours, have a secure environment that is quiet and non-threatening. Take time before introducing family members to your new feline friend.

Q Should my cat eat dog food?

A No they should not, as cats require more protein in their diets than dogs.  They require amino acids known as taurine, which dog food does not contain. A lack of taurine in a cat’s diet could lead to them developing health issues such as heart issues.

Q Does an adult cat require milk as part of its diet?

A The adult cat does not require milk in its diet, in fact most cats are to some degree lactose intolerant.

Q Why should I buy a scratching post for my cat?

A Cats have a natural tendency to scratch, and also mark their territory. They have scent glands in their paws, face and other places on their bodies. The scratching post also encourages your cat to stretch which is beneficial for them. If they do not have this item available to them, your furniture will sadly take its place.

Q Why do cat’s purr?

A Cat tends to purr when they are in a comfortable environment, but they often purr when they are hungry. They can often purr when in pain or soothing itself if unwell. It is also believed that purring assists in a faster healing process and that a low frequency purr causes vibrations within the body that can heal bones and wounds, build and repair tendons.

Q Why does my cat knead?

A They do it because it feels good to them, plain and simple they are content.

Q Why do cats act strange when you scratch just above the base of their tail?

They love it! Cats love the attention, and this area is a sweet spot for many cats. The rear end of your cat is a very sensitive area, their natural behavior in the wild is to use their rear ends as an ‘introductory scent’. So, when your cat presents her rear end to you, she is just paying you a compliment.

Q My cat is overweight, what can I do?

A If your cat walks on a lease, take them for longer walks. If not, encourage longer playtimes, as an overweight cat is more prone to serious health issues, including diabetes.

Q Why do cats dislike water?

A The majority of cats hate water because the feline coat lacks water resistance, and swimming is not natural to them.

Q How can I get my cat to stop walking on my kitchen counters?

There is a cheap and easy way to stop this happening, place and tape aluminum foil on the counters, or anywhere you don’t want them traipsing. Cats apparently do not like the feel of the foil under their feet, do this consistently and they will begin to avoid the foiled areas, cats are not silly creatures!

Q Cat litter is a mine field to a new cat owner, which one should I buy?

A Cat litter should be odor free, cats do not like scented ones. There are particle litters, pellets and crystals to name just a few, and yes it is a trial and error to get the best for your feline friend. A popular cat litter is Pretty Litter, this is a revolutionary health monitoring litter in the form of a gel. Let me know how you get on…

Q How do I get rid of fleas on my cat?

Fleas can be a real pest for cats and cat owners, it is better to be proactive and prevent the infestation in the first place. There are plenty of solutions on the market for both prevention and eradication. Check out Two Crazy Cat Ladies for an entire range of all-natural products that are kind to your cat, but not to the fleas!

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