5 Essential Tips for Adopting Your First Cat: What New Cat Owners Need to Know

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Featured photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash.

Guest post from Brandon Butler.

Whatever your reasons may be for adopting a feline friend, there are several wonderful benefits of welcoming a cat into your home. According to science, cat companions have been shown to lower stress levels, offer support during times of loss, and even detect potential threats that could endanger the lives of their owners. And in comparison to dogs, cat ownership is better for the environment! 

While sharing your home with a cat is beneficial to you and the feline friend you’re rescuing, there are so many different things to know when adopting your first cat companion. These five tips will help you to care for your first feline friend in the best way, so read on! 

1. Give your new cat some time to adjust.

Even after stocking up on essential cat supplies like quality food, bedding, toys, litter, and a litter box and carrier, your new feline companion will need some time to adjust to his new home. Some cats take just a few days to adjust, while others need a week or longer—especially if they’ve experienced abuse or neglect. However, it’s important to remain as patient as possible during this transition period. 

As your feline friend settles in and adjusts to his new surroundings, it can be helpful to create a safe indoor space for him to retreat to—whether it’s an empty closet, unused bedroom, or another part of your home that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic. This will provide your feline with a quiet, uninterrupted space to rest until he’s ready to meet the family and explore other parts of the home. 

2. Cats can be picky eaters.

Finding the right type of food for your new feline friend can take a bit of trial and error, as some cats prefer wet food varieties while others will only eat dry food. However, the important thing is that your cat is getting the nutrients he needs to live happily and healthily. And while the right type of food for your feline will depend on his age, health status, and activity level, a well-balanced diet for cats usually consists of:

  • Plenty of animal protein.
  • Unlimited access to freshwater.
  • Minimal carbohydrates. 
  • Occasional treats.

In addition to the type of food your feline friend eats, how and when he gets fed are just as important. According to veterinarians Ryan Llera and Robin Downing of VCA Hospitals, it’s best to keep your cat on a regular feeding schedule as this will reduce his risk of obesity and provide him with the structure he needs to feel safe, protected, and secure. 

3. Pet insurance will save you money.

Your feline’s veterinary needs will depend on his age, housing environment (such as indoor or outdoor), health status, and lifestyle, but most adult cats require at least one trip to the vet each year. During each visit, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, inspect your cat’s teeth, address any questions or concerns you may have, and administer vaccinations as needed. Once your feline reaches his senior years, however, he’ll likely require several vet visits each year. 

To save on veterinary care for your new feline friend, you may choose to purchase a top-rated pet insurance policy from companies such as Embrace, Healthy Paws, or Pet Assure. In addition to saving you money if your feline needs emergency care, surgery, or diagnostic testing, pet insurance provides you with the peace of mind that you’ll be able to give your cat companion the medical care he or she needs to live a long, healthy, and comfortable life. 

Before purchasing an insurance policy for your feline friend, it’s important to research and compare the following:

  • Basic coverages (some policies exclude wellness exams)
  • Out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles)
  • Policy exclusions and limitations (such as age restrictions)
  • Discounts (some policies offer discounts for insuring multiple pets)
  • Reimbursement percentages (how much the insurer will pay)

4. Bonding and playtime are important.

Cats are much more independent than dogs and puppies, but they still like to play with their owners! Plus, playtime can be a great bonding experience for you and your new feline friend — especially if you play games like hide-and-seek or feather and string. Several feline-friendly mobile apps are also available for your new companion to enjoy, including Friskies Jitterbug, Games for Cats, and Paint for Cats. 

5. Cats require regular grooming.

Just like humans and many other animal companions, cats need to be groomed in order to look and feel their very best. Brushing helps to remove grease, dirt, dead skin, and hair from your cat’s coat, while regular teeth cleaning promotes a healthy mouth and digestive system. 

If you’re a first-time cat parent, however, you may be wondering how and when to groom your new feline friend—especially if he’s aggressive or doesn’t enjoy being held. In these types of situations, you’ll be better off bringing your cat companion to a veterinarian or professional groomer. To find the best groomer for your feline friend, be sure to check certifications, online reviews, and inquire about the types of equipment used during grooming sessions.

If you’re comfortable grooming your cat at home, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers some tips on caring for your feline’s fur, skin, ears, nails, teeth, eyes, and paws. Grooming sessions can tell you a great deal about your cat’s health and well-being, and the more you keep up with it, the happier, healthier, and cleaner your feline friend will be. 

A few final words.

Adopting your first feline is a big, life-changing decision—and there’s a lot to learn about caring for your new companion. If you’ve adopted a cat from an animal rescue, however, the shelter can typically answer any questions you may have about your new feline friend—and ensure you have everything you need to give your cat the best life he can possibly have.

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