Few things are as exciting as getting a new pet – especially when that pet is of the whiskered and willy variety. But adding a new cat to your family requires a bit of planning and preparation so that you’ll be ready to make your new pet feel at home. This article will give you our complete checklist for new cat owners.
Minimally, you’ll want to follow the following six steps to set yourself up for success:
1. Establish a relationship with a veterinarian.
Even if you adopt the world’s healthiest cat, he’ll need preventative care and regular examinations. Accordingly, you’ll want to go ahead and establish a relationship with a convenient, competent and compassionate vet before you even welcome your furry friend into your family. Always be sure to visit your vet within about 48 hours of taking ownership or a new pet; in a best-case scenario, you’d drop by the vet for a preliminary visit on the way home from the shelter or store.
2. Select a high-quality food.
Like all other pets, cats require a nutritious diet to remain healthy and enjoy a high quality of life. There are a variety of good resources available to help you make your choice. Just be sure to consult at least two or three different independent sources before making a selection, and take care to avoid third-party, affiliate-style websites, which profit from their recommendations.
3. Provide your cat with a collar and ID tag.
Although some owners would argue that indoor cats do not require a collar and ID tag, any who’ve had a beloved pet escape would probably encourage their use. A collar and ID tag help people distinguish an escaped pet from a feral cat, and they provide the means to reunite the animal with their owner. It is also a good idea to discuss microchip implants, which can help veterinarians (and some shelters) identify a cat’s owner.
4. Give your cat plenty of things to climb, scratch, chase, and attack.
Cats may sleep for 16 hours a day or more, but most like to exercise their predatory instincts during their waking hours. To help your cat scratch these itches (and help protect your furniture and general domestic harmony), give him plenty of toys and designated destruction-resistant devices, like scratching posts. If you are creative and have some time, you can also consider making your own cat toys. Elevated perches are also a great idea, especially if you already have a pooch for a pet.
5. Figure out your litter-box approach.
Unlike dogs, who typically have to undergo an extensive house-breaking process, most cats will readily use a litter box. But there are several different options available to cat owners, from simple plastic boxes to complicated and automated poop-scooping containers. You’ll need an assortment of tools and supplies for this task, minimally including some type of litter box or pan, the litter of your choice and some type of sifter, to separate waste from clean litter.
6. Plan for those times when you are at work or out of town.
Even the most homebound owners find it necessary to be away from the home from time to time. When this happens, you’ll need to have someone to help care for your pet.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a close neighbor or family member who won’t mind pitching-in in a pinch. But unfortunately, things rarely work out so conveniently. And while your nephew will gladly come over the first two times you need him to help, he may be surprisingly difficult to contact when you call to request help a third time.
At times like this, it can be very helpful to have a familiar pet-care professional at the ready. Sure, it’ll cost you a few bucks to have a professional come by and give your cat the kind of attention and affection he deserves, but most pet parents love the peace of mind provided by these types of services.
If you are in the Orlando area, give your friends at Pawsitive Strides a call (407-970-0903) or drop us an email. We’ll talk over your pet-care options for those times when you need a little help.
Despite the fact that cats often appear rather self-sufficient creatures, they actually need plenty of love and care from their pet parents. Just satisfy the basic checklist above to ensure your cat gets everything he needs and leads a happy life.
We’d love to hear the thoughts of long-term cat owners. What would you recommend new pet parents do to prepare for their new family member? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.