Adopting a new kitten or an older feline can be very rewarding as they make wonderful companions. However, knowing how to take care of a cat before getting one is crucial to its health, happiness, and well-being.
So, if you’re thinking about paying a visit to your local animal shelter or pet store, here are some things to know before getting a cat:
1. They Aren’t Dogs
A lot of first-time cat owners tend to have slightly skewed expectations of their new feline companions. Here’s the thing—cats are not dogs. It doesn’t matter if it knows tricks, comes when it’s called, or is affectionate—it’s still a cat!
One of the most important things to know before getting a cat is that they’re independent animals and express different social cues. While they need your companionship just as much as you need theirs, sometimes being overly affectionate can stress them out. Learn how to engage with your new kitty appropriately and how to read its body language to build a fruitful relationship.
2. They Have a High Prey Drive
Cats are, by definition, hunters. They will stalk and pounce on anything that moves, including your feet when they’re feeling extra playful. Of course, it also means they’ll jump up on counters and tabletops and knock over everything they can. They especially like to break things when they want your attention.
Their high prey drive means two things:
- You’ll need to cat-proof your house
- You’ll need to provide interactive toys and designated playtime
By cat-proofing, we simply mean keep your valuable away from paw’s reach. There are plenty of ways you can “train” your cat not to jump on certain surfaces, but if we’re being honest, those methods seldom work.
Aside from cat proofing—and it may sound counter-intuitive—but you want to encourage their hunting instincts. You’ll need to do this by providing enough toys for them to stalk and pounce on and by supplying them with ample playtime.
They need exercise and mental stimulation, as well as your attention. Otherwise, they end up gaining weight and destroying the things you love.
3. They Cost Money
When you adopt a cat, just like any other animal, you’re responsible for its health and well-being. Be prepared to cover the costs of your new kitty’s food, cat grass, toys, routine vet check-ups, emergency vet visits, and more.
It’s also important to remember that cats live a long time, so be prepared to commit to their care and long-term costs.
4. They Need Their Space
Cats need a “room” of their own where they can retreat and relax in solitude—especially when they become stressed.
Make sure to provide them with spaces of their own—for their litterbox, their food and water, their scratching post, and their bed. Just don’t keep the food, water, and litterbox in close quarters for obvious reasons.
More Things to Know Before Getting a Cat
There are plenty more things to know before getting a cat. Luckily they’re not as complicated as they seem. As long as you provide for them and give them the love and respect they deserve, you and your kitty will have a long, beautiful relationship.
If you want to learn more about how to take care of a cat and their perplexing behavior, just visit our pet health and behavior blog.