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Things to Know Before you Bring Home Your First Cat or Kitten

by ShawnaR (follow)
Pet Care (148)      General (53)      Cats (73)     

cat, kitten, pet, animal

It is often said that cats are a ‘low maintenance’ pet, but if you are new to the world of cats, do not be fooled. Having a cat is not as easy as it may seem, so you should know what is involved before you decide to add a kitty (or preferably two) to your family. It can be a rewarding experience but if you expect the cat to ‘take care of himself’, you may be in for a few surprises.

cat, kitten, pet, animal
These two kitties are from the same litter. They have been together since they were born and are best buddies. They keep each other busy for hours at a time

One of the most common misconceptions about being a cat caregiver is that cats do not require you to exercise them. Unless you are subjecting your kitty to the risks of being an indoor/outdoor kitty (see more discussion on this subject here), you will need to make sure that your feline friend gets his daily workout. This can be accomplished by spending some time each day playing with your cat.

You can teach her to play fetch or have her chase a wand toy, but the key here is that you will need to spend the time with your cat or she will be unhappy and unhealthy. Another great way to keep your kitty occupied is to adopt a kitty-friend or litter-mate so your cats have constant companionship and someone to exercise with when you aren’t around.

Cats also require daily care. Each kitty is different but most cats will practice inappropriate bathrooming (outside of the litter box) if the box is not kept clean on a regular basis. It is a good idea to scoop the box (or boxes) at least once a day to keep your kitty clean and happy.

Your cat may have some additional requirements such as daily brushing if he has very long hair. Sometimes a bath or ‘spot-cleaning’ is also required to remove fecal matter from the coat around the hind ends of long-haired cats. Cats also obviously need to be fed at least once a day and they should always have access to fresh water.

cat, kitten, pet, animal
Certain breeds or types of cats, such as ragdolls, require daily brushing or combing so they won't get painful mats in their fur

Another misconception about kitties is that they do not require training. This is simply not true. Luckily for those of us who choose to live with cats, there is usually no potty training to be done. However, unless you want an unruly cat who does whatever he wants, you will need to train him.

Unless they are told otherwise, cats will scratch furniture, get into garbage bins, walk all over your tables and counters and chew or play with your personal belongings. Training your cat to respect your rules can be very easy or it can be a life-long power struggle depending on the cat in question. There are usually ways to deal with training issues and adopting an adult cat can make this much easier, but the newly initiated cat guardian should be aware that their new friend will need some form of training.

The most important thing to consider before you bring your new kitty home is that, if you take good care of her, she may be with you upwards of twenty years. Consider where you believe you will be at that time. Will there still be room in your life for a senior cat who may have special needs? If the answer is “probably not” then a kitty companion may not be the right choice for you at this point in your life.

The upside is that, once you are used to the routine that goes along with having a kitty, it seems like no work at all. You will be repaid with love and affection a hundred times over for your efforts.

cat, kitten, pet, animal
This sweet three week old kitten won't stay like this forever. He will deserve just as much love when he is old as he does now. Are you ready to commit...

All photos by ShawnaR

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I loved reading your article and as I have volunteered at an animal shelter a few years back and saw the amount of cats given up due to the fact that people decided they needed to move into a home that was not pet-friendly etc, it was heart breaking. These cats were and are beautiful companions and it was simply unfair to them to leave them the way that some people did. I don't have a cat, but I love them. I have a dog and I wouldn't give up my pet for anyone or any reason.
If more people read what you have written and acted on your sound advice there would not be so many animals in shelters today.
This is a fantastic article and I hope many people read it and heed your words.
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