Owning A Cat 101- What You Need To Know

Posted: January 27, 2021 by Anita

owning a cat for the first time

Theo, my cat is my best friend. We share a townhome and just like me, he has his own bedroom. We have our good days and man, oh man, we have our bad days.

It is a simple relationship – one in which I pay the bills, and he pretty much gets to be a cat – eats delicious cat food, lounge around, and nap whenever he wants to.

(Click here to see what Theo loves eating).

Having a cat as a pet is pretty darn cool. I happen to think there are awesome perks to having a cat for a pet.

This article will attempt to give you a realistic view of first-time cat ownership – the good, the bad, and the ugly – well, there’s not much ugly. 

In this article, I discuss owning a cat 101 – what you need to know when owning a cat for the first time.

owning a cat for the first time

#1 – Be ready to share your space when having a cat as a pet

No one talks about this, but cats are very intrusive.  At times you will feel like your home has been taken over by your cat, with your sole purpose in life is paying rent and keeping the feeding dish full.

Nothing will belong to you. Ever. Again. It’s the cat’s bed.  It’s the cat’s laptop.  It’s the cat’s socks.  All of your living room furniture will be the property of your cat. And let’s not even talk about the tons of cat toys all over the place.

It’s a cat’s world.

#2 – Cats are not low maintenence

Cats require some maintenance. Yeah, when compared to dogs – cats are low maintenance. However, they do require special maintenance.

They don’t require a lot of interaction, like dogs. Cats are very independent. But still, you need, and your fluffball will do better behaviorally when you give them at least 30 minutes of your time every day.

As a first-time cat owner, be ready to engage with your cat on a regular. A bored cat is a mischievous cat. Cats need plenty of opportunities for stimulation and predatory play.

Cats require grooming

Cats do require some tender loving care. That depends on the type of cat. If your cat has long hair, you must keep it nice, neat, and combed. OMG, the last thing you want is a cat with matted hair.

Cats are very good at keeping themselves clean. They will rarely need a bath. But what your cat will need is a good brushing. How often to brush your cat will depend on how much hair it has.

Click here to check out brushes for cats from Amazon.

Have their nails clipped regularly by either taking him to a groomer or by doing it yourself – click here to purchase Amazon’s Choice cat nail clipper

Provide plenty of activity.

You have to exercise cats. An un-exercised cat is a bored cat, and the last thing you want is a bored cat, especially when it’s time for you to go to sleep.

In the wild, cats are always on the prowl for the next meal. But once cats become pets, there is no need to hunt for food. We provide food for them.

Cats living that cat lifestyle can lead to boredom, laziness, and a tendency to become overweight. An inactive home cat can become depressed. So, it is essential to keep your cat active and engaged. How do you keep your cat active?

Get your cat a cat tree and some cat toys.

Clean out their litter box

Cleaning the cat litter box is one of those horrendous chores that cat owners don’t like talking about.  But it’s an essential chore if you want a happy cat and a smell-free home.

For tips on cleaning out the litter box, click here to read my article titled “Litter Box Cleaning Hacks“.

#3 – You don’t own the cat – the cat owns you

As I stated before, owning a cat is pretty cool.

Most folks don’t understand cats and their vibe. It’s a whole lifestyle. I just moved my laptop from one side of the bedroom to the other because Theo likes me being on this side of the room. And now I can work in peace and tranquility without him bothering me.

That pretty much sums up what it means to have a cat that owns you.

Cats require special maintenance. Take good care of a cat and they will give you permission to own them.

So, how do you own a cat?

Caring for a cat isn’t really hard. Feed them, love them, and clean out their litter box. You will have a feline friend for life.

#4 Cats have some really weird but cute behavior

Cats are nocturnal animals so late at night – when you’re ready to settle down for the night – they will randomly run through the house like a…well, crazy cat. Expect other bizarre behavior like:

  • climbing on top the refrigerator
  • head butting you
  • scratching your furniture
  • playing in boxes
  • busting into the bathroom while you’re showering or on the toilet
  • licking the top of your head
  • randomly knocking stuff off your counters
  • attacking your feet

Cats can wreak havoc on your furniture. Cats are notorious for killing furniture, especially couches. But they can be trained not to by getting them a scratching post. The 4 Paws Stuff Scratching Post works great for training kittens (I got this scratching post for baby kitten Theo). Click here to check it out.

A lot of the extra behavior can be alleviated by:

  • purchasing a cat tree so your cat can climb on it instead of your furniture – click here to check out the one I got for Theo
  • buying a scratching post him to scratch instead of your furniture – click here to check ou the one I got for Theo
  • get plenty of cat toys – click here for the best cat toy for cats that like to zoom

Click here to check out the cat food that Theo (my cat) loves!

#5 – Cats ain’t cheap

The cost of owning a cat isn’t exactly cheaper than owning a dog.  Cats require food, cat litter, and at the very least preventative care from a Vet. So they’re not so cheap.

Cost of owning a cat

Being a cat owner costs money. I read somewhere that it cost about $300 a year to own a cat.  I think it’s more like $600.  Here are some initial things you need to consider when bringing your cat home for the first time.

It also takes money to own a cat

Having a cat as a pet takes money. I heard a cat adoption commercial the other day, which stated: “…all I (cat) need is a can of tuna and a cardboard box”.  Your new cat will need a lot more than a can of tuna and a cardboard box. 

Cat food – one of the most important decisions you will make for your new pet. There are so many choices out there.  It can get confusing. The right choice is always to choose healthy cat food.

Cat litter – This is the second biggest choice you will make for your cat.  The first thing you want to think about is the type of cat litter.  The choices are non-clumping or clumping cat litter.

Yearly checkup/emergency visits at the veterinarian – I recommend purchasing pet insurance with a good wellness plan. Click here for the pet insurance I use for Theo.

#6 – Feed your cat quality food

Cats metabolize proteins and fats and use them as their main source of energy. The food you choose should be balanced and full of nutrition for the life stage of your cat or kitten. Be sure to provide plenty of water especially if your cat’s diet consists mostly of dry cat food. Keep snacks to about 10-15 percent of your cat’s diet.

Click here to check out the cat food that Theo (my cat) loves!

#7 – Cats require lots of love

Love them – no matter what

Try to manage your expectations. Cats are like humans in a lot of ways – when it comes to personality. You might want a lap cat, but you might end up with a cat who might like lounging near you instead.

Or you might want an independent cat who likes being by themselves but instead end up with a cat who stalks you.

For this cat relationship to work, you will need an open mind and a big heart. And patience.

Let me give you a real-life example.

I have had Theo for a little over a year. He was about a month old when we found him wet, cold, and in danger of being roadkill.

It’s been a real struggle. Theo has major asshole issues.

But today, I realized that I love Theo and couldn’t do without him. He’s still an asshole with terrible social skills but I’ve grown to accept his imperfections.

As I’m sure he’s grown to accept mine.

#8 – Consider adopting a cat from your local shelter

Why not adopt a cat?

Call me biased, but I think cat adoption is the noblest act of kindness a human can show for one of God’s creatures.  Besides, why buy a cat from a pet store or a cat breeder, spend a shit load of money on a pedigree (unless you want a show cat which could be worth the initial investment) when there are tons of cats out there who would benefit from your loving home.

And what’s the benefit for you? This relationship’s reward is having that ball of fluff meeting you at the door, greeting you with unconditional love.  Who doesn’t need that after a crappy day at work? The unbiased, uncomplicated (well, sort of) love of your cat.  Ain’t nothing like it.  Here’s how to buy a cat through adoption:

Getting a cat to adopt

I recommend checking the ASPCA website.  The ASPCA has a national database of cats available for adoption.  You can search by zip code, breed, qualities you might be looking for in a cat, etc.  Here are the steps:

  1. Go to ASPCA.org
  2. Click on the tab labeled “local shelters.”
  3. Scroll down to “Adoptable Cats in Your Local Shelter,” then click.
  4. Type in your zip code
  5. Find the cat you’re interested in, click on the picture.
  6. The cat of your choice is just a car ride away.

How to adopt a cat from a shelter

Now that you’ve done your research and settled on one cat (or two or a kitten), the next step is to visit the shelter to get a look at your potential cat, up close and personal.  Also, the shelter is going to want to make sure you’re a suitable choice for your new cat.  The adoption process usually goes something like this:

  • Fill out an application
  • provide proof of address
  • a copy of your apartment lease or condo policies regarding cats
  • The shelter will provide some alone time to get to know your cat. The shelter will be checking your interaction with the cat.
  • Don’t be surprised if you don’t take your adorable little feline home right away.  Some shelters require a home inspection before they release your new cat to you.
  • How much does a cat cost when adopting?  Cat adoption fees can run anywhere from $50 on up.  How much does a kitten cost to adopt? Kittens usually start at $100. There might be additional fees for identification tagging, spaying/neutering procedure, shots.
  •  Make sure to cat-proof your cat’s new home before bringing him home.

Another question you might be asking yourself is, “what kind of cat should I get?”  Cats have a great way of picking out their human owners.  Pay attention to the cat that gravitates towards you during your visit to the shelter. Then pick the cat you fall in love with.

#9 – There are benefits to having a cat

Living with a cat is pretty damn amazing. Cats make excellent companions.  There’s nothing like coming home after a hard day at the office and being met with such love and devotion from a sweet furbaby.

The psychological benefits of having cats are numerous!

Here are the many great reasons why having a cat is beneficial to you.

There’s scientific proof that having a cat is right for your health.

Having a cat can help your heart.  The sound of a cat’s purr can lower your blood pressure.  By reducing your blood pressure levels, you decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 percent.

Cats have the power to heal

There are healing powers in a cat’s purr.  A cat’s purr creates vibrations at a frequency of 20-140 HZ.  Studies have shown those kinds of vibrations can heal bones, tendons, and muscles after an injury.

You will sleep better having a cat around

Having a cat as a roommate will help you sleep better.  The Mayo Clinic for Sleep Medicine confirmed in a recent study that 41 percent of the people in their sleep studies reported sleeping better because of their cat.

Having a cat reduces stress and anxiety

Cats lower stress and anxiety by triggering the release of calming chemicals in the human body.  These calming chemicals can lead to a happier you.

Petting your cat will make you happy (and your cat will love it too).

Looking for an awesome coping mechanism – pet a cat!  Who doesn’t need a suitable coping mechanism that doesn’t involve drugs (haha)?

Tips on how to pet cats – It’s important to know when and where to pet your cat. As I said before, cats are like people in a lot of ways – you gotta know how to approach them. Sometimes they don’t want to be touched. So allow your cat to choose when it is okay for your to pet them. Watch for visual cues such as:

  • rubbing up against you – tail in upright position
  • purring and kneed you with their front paws
  • giving your hand a nudge with their head

There are certain spots on a cat where they enjoy being petted:

  • gentle scratch behind the ear
  • stroking under the chin
  • gentle stroking along the cheeks
  • don’t touch their belly – cats love showing their bellies as a sign of affection and trust but it’s not an invitation to touch. Again, this is one of those instances where cats are very different from dogs.
  • don’t over do the petting – the less, the better.

Having a cat will help you feel less isolated

Many of us are choosing to stay at home for our safety and the safety of others.  Having a cat during this time will help you feel less lonely.  Cats are great listeners.  And they are great companions.

#10 – Properly introduce your new cat to your home

It is important to be prepared ahead of time before bringing home your new feline companion.  It is best to introduce your cat to your home in stages rather than all at once – it will be less stressful for her (and you).

  • Prepare a safe room in a spare bedroom.  This space will provide a quiet spot where your new friend can get used to your home in stages.
  • If you don’t have space, that’s okay.  What you can do is make your entire space a cat sanctuary.  You want to make sure that the space is safe for your cat.
  • Place a litter box on one side of the safe space and food dish on the other side – somewhere the cat can get to easily.
  • Create a hiding place by using a cardboard box or sheets draped over chairs.  Provide cat toys and a scratching post. I like to apply a little catnip to the scratching post to encourage scratching of the post instead of my carpet.
  • Close off any rooms you don’t want the cat to have access to yet.  Be sure to block access to space underneath the bed or couch (cats will rip a hole between the slats of box springs and hide inside).

Letting your cat get to know you

Don’t force yourself on her at the beginning.  Start with short visits to her space.  Talk to her in a soothing voice.  Read to her.

Don’t try petting her unless she invites you to do so.  Don’t over pet – again, short sessions.  Gain your cat’s trust.  Don’t rush it.

Eventually, your cat will want to explore the house.  I recommend closing off most doors of your home as she begins to explore – especially if you leave your cat alone to go to work.

Take it slow.  Take your cues from your cat.  Some cats can transition to a new home in a few days.  For other cats, it could take weeks for them to feel comfortable in a new home.

Remember, this is a lifetime commitment, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy each other.

owning a cat for the first time

Things you need for a cat

How do you feel about sharing your living space with a cat? You will have to modify your house to accommodate your new cat.   There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve until you and your new cat adjust to each other.  Just like any relationship, there are going to be ups and downs.  Be prepared, flexible, patient, and loving.

Here is the first time cat owner checklist – (click on each link to be taken to Chewy.com)

  1. Iams Proactive Health Healthy Dry Cat Food or for kittens,  I also recommend Hill’s Science Diet Kitten Dry Cat Food
  2.  Cat dish (2) for water and food
  3.  Arm & Hammer Clump and Seal Cat Litter
  4. Catit Jumbo Hooded Litter Pan
  5. Litter mat
  6. Your new cat will love Frisco Bird Teaser Cat Toy, click here.

These cat supplies will be what you’ll need when bringing your cat home for the first time to your apartment.  As time goes on, you might want to add these additional cat products:

owning a cat for the first time

Conclusion

You’ve got to go into this new relationship thinking “lifelong commitment.”  This goes hand in hand with having realistic expectations. If you think that this is something that you can’t commit to long-term, then you need to re-think becoming a cat owner.

Owning a cat can be rewarding and fun. Cats make excellent companions.  There’s nothing like coming home after a hard day at the office and being met with such love and devotion from a sweet furbaby.

However, it can be frustrating and a pain in the ass, especially if you are dealing with a cat that has behavioral or health issues. The way to deal with this is to have patience, be persistent, and work with your cat on modifying the behavior.

As a new cat owner, there are things to know before getting a cat.  You want to make sure you are ready.  How are you going to feel about your new cat climbing up on your furniture or using your nice couch as a scratching post?  Are you going to be okay with your cat climbing into your bed?  What if your new kitten poops on your carpet? How are you going to feel about having to clean out the litter box?  And speaking of cat litter, be prepared; it gets everywhere.

How do you feel about sharing your living space with a cat? You will have to modify your house to accommodate your new cat.   There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve until you and your new cat adjust to each other.  Just like any relationship, there are going to be ups and downs.  Be prepared, flexible, patient, and loving.

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