You’ve seen them on the internet, you’ve seen them on Instagram, and you’ve seen them walking down the street. You may even know friends or family who have one (or two) but didn’t really think to get one.
What you’re thinking of getting is a cat, a lovable furry companion that has enough calmness yet character to keep you entertained for years. However, cats are unique animals in the way you feed, interact, and take care of them, and your actions could mean the difference between having a lifetime of comfort or ounces of misery. If you’re a first-time cat owner, there are quite a few things you need to know before you buy or adopt a feline friend.
1. Consider Which Personality Type You’re Getting
Cats are like any creature in that they can vary in breed, but they can also vary in personality. According to research from the University of South Australia, there are five different personality types demonstrated in cats:
These traits give cats their own flair and character and can mirror well with their owner, but it can also lead to behavior issues. For example, skittish cats can be very anti-social and run away from guests, while spontaneous cats can act without reason, leading to stress. If you’re buying or adopting an older cat, check with the previous owner to see what traits it exhibited.
2. Kitten and Adult Cats Require Different Things
If you’re a parent, then you know how raising a baby is different than raising a child or teenager. The same thing applies to kittens and cats. While both are wonderful additions to your family, deciding which one to get is going to depend on your lifestyle. Kittens are still getting used to the world around them and require nurturing and patience. Once a cat is older, it becomes more independent and self-reliant, so it will be comfortable being left alone for hours on end (provided that you give it food and water). So, knowing how much time you can invest in your pet when you first get it is very critical.
3. Get the Right Food (And Avoid the Wrong Ones)
Shopping for cat food can be daunting if you’ve never had a cat before, but understanding their diet can go a long way towards saving money and health issues. It’s recommended that cats eat wet food over dry food because of the added moisture, but the food itself poses some extra variables. Whole animal protein should be the first thing listed in the ingredients list if you are choosing to feed your cat manufactured food.
That’s not to say that cats can eat human food, but it becomes even more tricky. Cats can enjoy food with fat in it in moderation, and favorites like eggs and cooked poultry can give your furry feline some additional vitamins and protein.
4. Cats Sleep…A Lot.
Cats are very active pets, but only during certain hours of the day. They’re considered crepuscular, meaning that most of their activity is reserved for dawn and dusk hours. Even then, they can adapt their sleeping schedule to their feeding schedule, so knowing when you are able to feed your cat throughout the day can give you a general idea of their active hours. Still, don’t be surprised to see your new cat sleep for many hours on end, as it is completely normal.
5. Your Home is Their Home Now…Fix It.
Many first-time pet owners, including cat owners, think that getting a new pet means that you can keep your home the way it is. However, just like bringing a baby into your home for the first time, bringing a cat into the home requires a few changes of scenery. Cats can be adventurous in a new setting, so you have to consider which things might be attractive to them to play with or bite on.
Cords, blinds, and sewing equipment can be alluring to your cat, so you should put those out of sight in order to avoid them playing with it or panicking after getting tangled up. Plants like lilies and tulips need to be away from eating distance, and windows and balconies should be closed to prevent falling. Think about the things valuable to you in your home, and think about how valuable your new cat is to you now.
Cats are lovable, playful creatures ready to be welcomed into your home, but it requires work and patience if it’s your first time. Understand what type of cat you’re getting, what diet they need, and the home life you’re building for them. Once you do, you’re all set for a fun feline friend!