Essential Tips for First-Time Cat Owners

Thank you to our guest writer Jessica Brody.  —  &

While some believe that cats are a less-involved pet than dogs, the truth is that many cats are loving, playful companions that require a lot of love and attention. While both are common pets, cats and dogs are not the same creatures, however. Here are some tips for the first-time cat owner to ensure you create a loving home and a strong bond with your new cat.

Don’t make the attention mistake

You may have heard that cats are more solitary animals than dogs and that they don’t really need that much attention. This is not entirely accurate. While you will find that cats behave differently than dogs when it comes to being social and active, it’s a mistake to think that your cat does not need stimulation.

“Cats do need attention – as they are awake about 8-9 hours a day and need varied stimulation. Much like a dog needs regular walks, cats need regular exercise and human companionship to stay social and healthy,” notes

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time away from home, you need to make sure your cat stays stimulated while you’re out. You don’t necessarily need to hire someone, like you would with a dog walking service, but you may need to ask a friend to stop by to play with your cat for a little bit.

Know the best way to feed your cat

There are plenty of myths out there about how to feed a cat, and you should do your research to ensure your cat stays happy and healthy. For example, did you know that, despite what you’ve seen in cartoons, milk isn’t all that healthy for cats? Did you know that kittens need a different type of food than adult cats? Also, you may consider wet cat food as opposed to dry if your cat is particular and/or has digestive issues.

“Veterinarians recommend feeding canned cat food over kibble. Canned foods have a higher percentage of protein and fat than dry foods and are significantly higher in water content than kibble (70 percent vs 10 percent). Also, canned foods tend to be more palatable to cats that are finicky, elderly or have dental problems,” says ABC News.

Prepare your home before you even head to the shelter

Before you bring your cat home, you need to make sure all the preparations are made for their arrival. You should already have their food, bowls, toys (very important), and litter box set up. You should also cat-proof your home, which means removing potential hazards like loose cords, exposed electrical connections, and potentially dangerous house plants (check here for a list of plants that are poisonous to cats).

Bond by giving them their space

The flip side of giving your cat enough attention is giving them enough space. It’s important to remember that cats are not dogs. They have a completely different personality and much more value their independence.

“You don’t want your feline to feel overwhelmed – so although you should interact with them, don’t do it too often. When you do, try to get down to their level and, instead of forcing them to interact, let them make the first move,” suggests Petful.

Don’t be offended if your cat wants to spend some time away from you. This is normal. They still love you.

It’s easy to create a loving, comfortable home for your cat – even if it’s your first pet – if you realize that your cat is not a dog and you act accordingly. Cats will want their space, but they also need attention at times. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your cat requires less thought and care than a dog would. Your new cat will only give you back what you put in.

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