It may feel like a lot of pressure to suddenly take on this responsibility. How much food and water should the cat get? Where should you put its bed? Is it going to scratch everything in its path? These are all reasonable things to consider when bringing home your new cat, but take comfort in knowing there are small things you can do to ensure you have a nice, well-behaved pet. Here are some tips to help make that happen.
1. Learn How To Groom Your Cat Safely
Unlike other animals, cats typically aren’t fond of baths. Cats are really great at keeping themselves clean—in fact, they’re kind of neat freaks. Still, you’ll want to have some basic items around the house to help your cat stay as clean as possible, such as a brush/comb, nail trimmers, and teeth cleaning kits. If you find your kitty won’t tolerate your grooming, take it to the vet and see if they can give you pointers or schedule an appointment at a local grooming facility.
2. Keep the Litter Box Clean
One way to ensure peace in the home with a cat is to keep its litter box clean. Cats are all about cleanliness and don’t like a dirty bathroom. If the litter box becomes too dirty for the cat, you may start to discover small surprises all around your home (like on your bed, in a pile of clothes, etc). To make this task easier on yourself, set a reminder on your phone to clean out the litter daily. This will keep your kitty happy and make clean-up less of a chore for you.
3. Cat-Proof Your Home
If you’re worried about your cat scratching everything or getting a little mischievous, consider taking steps to cat-proof the house. Invest in a scratching post (so the cat doesn’t go for the couch) and make sure there are no dangling cords or strings that your new pet will think are toys to be played with.
4. Show Your Cat Affection
No matter what age your new cat is, make sure you take time to snuggle with it and be present during your first few months together (this will be easier with a kitten, but do your best with an older cat, too). Just like babies need to be held and loved on to form bonds with their parents, cats require you to earn their love, so demonstrating that you will be there for it and that you care about it will help build up that relationship.
5. Make Time for Play
Cats don’t need to have a giant yard to run around in, but they do still need time to play. It’s important to their health and how they bond with you. Make sure you take five or 10 minutes out of your day to show them a little extra attention and play with them. There are a variety of toys you can get at the store that will keep their attention, but anything they can chase or paw at is going to be a hit.
6. Learn Your Cat’s Mannerisms
Believe it or not, cats are really good at communicating their needs to you if you pay attention. If something is off with them, they will change their behavior. For example, if your cat goes to the bathroom outside the litter box, it could be trying to tell you it’s sick or that you haven't paid enough attention to it lately. Take the time to learn how your cat acts on a daily basis and when it “acts out” don’t rush to just assume it’s a bad cat; instead, take a moment to think about whether anything has changed around the house.
Though it may seem a bit overwhelming now, making the decision to be a cat parent is one of the best you’ll ever make. Given the right attention and love, your cat will be your companion for years to come and provide you with more joy than you realize.
Article by our friend Kay Carter