LIFESTYLE

What to Know Before Getting a Cat: How to Provide a Forever Home

new kitten
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Most people consider getting a companion pet a few times in their lives. How many times did you want to get a cat, and simply gave up because of other commitments in life? Still, you think that now is the right time, and you are finally ready to welcome a new kitty into your home. With this decision comes the question of what to know before getting a cat and what you can do to prepare for the arrival of a loving companion.

Cats may appear as easy-going and low maintenance pets compared to dogs, but just like any other pets, cats come with a good deal of responsibility and require the same amount of dedication as any other animal. However, with a bit of time and preparation, you can do everything in your power to make a cat comfortable and happy once she enters your home.

In this article, we will talk about the things you have to know before getting a new cat. You are probably aware of some of them, but it isn’t a bad thing to brush up on your knowledge. All the excitement of getting a new cat can cause a few things to slip your mind, and you don’t want to end up having a cat and no food to give her.

15 Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Cat

You think the time is finally right and that you are ready to welcome a new cat into your home. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time getting a cat, or if you’ve already had a cat before—there are things you need to consider in order to provide a forever home for a new feline.

There are many reasons why cats are the most popular choice of companion pets, and soon enough you will have a chance to see for yourself. Our list of things to consider when getting a new cat will prepare you accordingly, so you too can experience all the joys of sharing a life with a fluffy fur ball.

#1: Where to Find a New Cat

cats' shelter

If you aren’t already aware, it is our duty to inform you that there are millions of cats in shelters and rescue organizations waiting for a forever home. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t anything wrong with these cats; they simply had the misfortune of being born on the streets or abandoned by their previous owners.

Shelters also offer a wide variety of cats of any age, and one of them is bound to possess all the physical and character traits you are looking for.

Furthermore, even if you are set on getting a purebred cat, there is a big chance of finding the one at your local shelter or rescue organization. Did you know that there are many rescue societies that deal with abandoned purebred cats? The influx of abandoned cats is so big that nowadays it is fairly easy to adopt a purebred cat.

Some of these shelters have waiting lists, but that won’t matter when you are getting the cat of your dreams.

See Also: How to Adopt a Cat

On the other hand, if you have set your eyes on a rare breed that don’t end up in shelters every other day, then your only solution is obtaining one from a breeder. Make sure that you find a reputable breeder that isn’t in this business solely for the money, and check if he/she is willing to provide a health guarantee.

#2: Assess Your Lifestyle

Cats are more independent than other pets, and one thing you won’t have to worry about is how you are going to fit daily walks into your busy schedule. However, cats require time, attention, and interaction, and you should consider if your current lifestyle allows you to get a cat.

Think about your weekly schedule, travel habits, social life, and all other obligations, then consider how getting a cat will have an impact on all of them. Furthermore, would you have someone to take care of your cat when you are away from home on a business trip or a holiday?

Be honest with yourself, and take some time considering everything; it’s a fair thing to do.

#3: Mind Your Budget

buying a cat

Even though cats are smaller than dogs and don’t need so much food or grooming products, the cost of owning a cat can add up. On average people spend around $600 a year only on basic cat care costs, and this is without the emergency vet visits.

You should consider your budget and see if there is room in it for a cat and all the things she needs. And since emergency vet care is really expensive, think about insuring your cat, so you are covered in case anything happens.

#4: Indoor or Outdoor Living

The benefits of keeping a cat indoors-only are numerous, and you should consider this living situation seriously before getting a cat. Cats that are allowed to roam through the neighborhood are at greater risk of getting infected with feline transmitted diseases, hit by a car, attacked by other animals, or simply stolen.

Contrary to popular belief, cats that live indoors-only don’t miss out on anything and are pretty content staying inside and gazing out through the window.

See Also: Indoor Cat Lifespan

#5: Fix Your Cat Immediately

fixing a cat

Fixing your new cat is one of the more important decisions you will have to make. It may seem like a waste of money, but spaying or neutering is a duty for every cat owner.

There are already so many unwanted cats in the world, and you shouldn’t contribute to the problem. A female cat can, on average, produce three litters in one year, and fixing is the only way to stop the cat overpopulation.

Fixing your cat will increase her lifespan, keep her healthy, safe, and protected from infectious diseases and cancers that affect reproductive organs. Neutered male cats don’t feel the urge to mark their territory, fight other cats, and their entire demeanor becomes less aggressive and more open to cuddles.

#6: Find a Good Vet

If this is going to be your first time owning a cat, it is a good idea to research a good vet prior to bringing a cat home. You can talk to your pet-owning neighbors for a recommendation or research the vets near your area online.

Look for a competent and animal loving person who will be willing to answer all of your questions and ease you into pet ownership. Once you bring your new cat home, you should schedule a vet appointment to check your cat’s health and set up a vaccination date.

See Also: Cat Vaccination Schedule

#7: Make a Supply List

food for a cat

Before getting and bringing a new cat home, it is a good idea to stock up on all things a cat will need, and making a list will ensure that you have everything covered.

It is best to feed a cat with high-quality cat food, within your budget. You should talk to a breeder or shelter workers and see what your cat has been eating so far, and go with that brand for the first few weeks until you are able to transition her to your desired food.

Next on your list should be food and water bowls, interactive toys, a brush for grooming, and a safety collar with an ID tag. There are no particular requirements for any of these items, and you should pick the ones that you find most fitting for your new cat.

You will also have to buy a litter box and the litter, so you don’t end up cleaning your home after your cat. Consult with the breeder or the shelter and get the same brand of litter they used. Use it until you are ready to transition your cat to another brand of your choosing.

You will also need a cat bed and a carrier, and it is a good idea that you have a scratching post ready. This way you will teach your cat from the start that your furniture is off limits. We know that this may seem like a lot, but think about it like investing in your cat’s well-being, and some of these stuff you won’t have to buy regularly.

#8: Create a Safe Room

Once a cat is brought into a new home, she will need some time to adjust to the new environment and get to know you. That’s why it is recommended that you use a quiet and separate place in a home as a safe room for a new cat.

This space doesn’t have to be much; you can use a spare bathroom, a closet, or a corner in your bedroom, as long as the place is secluded and not frequented by the rest of the family members.

Place food and water bowls, a litter tray, some toys, and a bed in the safe room, and make sure your kitty is comfortable and has everything she needs.

The adjustment period can vary from one cat to another and usually lasts from a couple of days to two weeks. During this time, a kitty will get to know you and become comfortable in your presence, and the safe room will serve as her own territory to which she can retreat as she wishes.

See Also: How to Introduce a Cat to a New Home

#9: Cat-Proof Your Home

kitten and plant

It is very important that you make sure your house is ready for a new cat even before she arrives. Most people aren’t aware that some plants are toxic to cats and end up exposing their new kitty to an unnecessary health risk. That’s why it is crucial to familiarize yourself with plants that pose a risk to cats and remove them from your home.

Furthermore, you should try to look at your home from a cat’s point of view and remove all hazardous temptations out of paw’s reach.

#10: See If Pets are Allowed in Your Building

The first thing you should do is talk with your landlord and check if you are allowed to keep cats if you live in an apartment. You don’t want to lose your deposit, be kicked out of the apartment, or be in a situation where you have to return the cat after you got her hopes up.

On the other hand, if you aren’t renting, you can cross this task off your to-do list.

#11: Check If Everyone is On Board

woman allergic to cats

Talk to your family members and see what they think about you getting a new cat. You should also make sure that no one in the family is allergic to cats since getting a cat in this situation isn’t possible. See if everyone wants to pitch in and make sure that all of them are aware of their responsibilities regarding the new cat.

See Also: How to Convince Your Parents to Get a Cat

#12: Be Prepared for Emergencies

Owning a pet is almost the same as having a child since your pet depends on you wholeheartedly. You never know what can happen, and it is a good idea to be prepared for emergencies.

You should have enough cat food to last you a week at any given moment since you can’t know if a quick drive to the supermarket will be impossible.

Furthermore, it is best to keep the phone number of your regular vet and emergency vet clinic in an easily accessible place like your fridge or on your phone. You don’t want to waste precious moments searching for the phone numbers in the middle of the night while your kitty is in pain.

#13: Think About Your Future Plans

moving with a kitten

No one knows what to expect from the future, but all of us have certain plans for years to come. Since cats on average live from 13 – 17 years with some even reaching their 20s, you should think how getting a cat can affect your plans for the future.

Do you plan to move in a couple of years, form a family, or start living on a boat? Getting a cat is a big commitment, and you should consider if a cat is going to fit into your long-term plans. If you aren’t able to be a constant factor in the entirety of your cat’s life, then there isn’t a point in getting one in the first place.

#14: Be Involved Every Day

In some sense, taking care of a cat isn’t as time-consuming as having a dog. However, this doesn’t mean that you can leave a cat home alone the whole day, a couple of days a week, and expect her to be happy and content.

Even though cats are considered indifferent and docile, they are very social creatures that like interacting with their owners. Every cat deserves love and attention and the best way to give this to her is to spend time interacting together every day.

Depending on a cat’s personality you can engage her in interactive play, spend hours cuddling, or laying on the sofa together watching your favorite TV show.

#15: Consider Getting Two Cats Instead of One

two kittens together

When getting a new cat, think about getting one more if your financial and living situation allows it. Cats can become bored and unhappy if they are alone, and a feline companion can make sure that your cat has someone to play with while you are earning for their food and toys.

You should be aware that some cats can be territorial and jealous of a newcomer. To prevent any unwanted behavior, consider getting cats that are siblings or a pair that became friends while waiting for you in a shelter.

Wrap Up

Kitten and house

What to know when getting a new cat is a million dollar question for all who are eager to become first-time cat owners. You should know that getting a cat is one of the best decisions you are going to make in your entire life and that you are bound to be on the receiving end of countless head butts and heartwarming purrs.

However, bringing a cat home isn’t a decision to make lightly; it requires a bit of thinking and preparation. Be honest; you imagine yourself living with the same cat 15 years from now, no matter where the life takes you? If the answer is yes, then now is the right time to get a new cat and experience all the joys a feline friend can bring.

What are the things you wish you knew before you got your first cat? Leave us a comment about that and more in the section below. If you’re still not sure on whether to get a canine or feline friend, check out our article on why are cats better than dogs.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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