welcome home kitty - pet ownership 101
The day has arrived. You spend hours watching pet love stories on The Dodo - you’ve definitely shared cat videos you found on The Dodo with an emotional emoji face as your caption.
You follow cat Instagram profiles (not their owners, who cares about them? Pfft.), and you cried (again) when Duchess and her three kittens were cat-napped on Disney’s Aristocats.
You want a cat.
And now, you have one! You’re already picturing the grand love story: kitty meets parent, kitty falls hopelessly in love with parent, parent and kitty will live happily ever after in perfect harmony.
However, the rose-coloured glasses get swiped off your face as soon as you get home, because kitty hasn’t left the carrier since you put it down — and doesn’t seem interested in going anywhere near you, nevermind loving you.
What’s going on?
Well, if you’re the cat, Everything?!
While kitty is busy taking in - okay, freaking out - about their new environment, do you have everything you need to be the best pet parent for them? Don’t worry if you don’t have every single item listed (though you should have the basics, more on that later), or get everything right the first time. Like every good parent, practice makes “purrfect.”
Live in a house? Rent an apartment? Roommate(s)? Where you live and how you live impacts whether or not you actually can get a cat. If you happen to be renting, check with management to see if your place is pet friendly, and how much extra you’ll need to pay for “pet rent.” Have a group meeting with the other people you live with and see how they feel about living with a cat (allergies are a thing apparently).
If location isn’t the problem, what about you? Are you away from home a lot? Lilies your favourite flower? Part-time drummer for an indie band? As independent as cats are, a regular routine (where they see you) in an environment that’s safe (lilies, grapes and raisins are deadly for cats) and peaceful works best for them.
If that’s not where you are in life right now, it's best to wait until you’re in a place in life where you can take on the commitment of having a pet.
Nothing makes us feel more welcome than a space where we can eat, get clean, and sleep — cats are no exception! A soft cat bed, scratching post, fresh litter box, and bowls full of water and food are exactly what kitty needs to feel like your home can be their home too.
If you have the space, making a “cat room” where all their items are in one location is a big help in the beginning, it allows them to get used to their new environment.
As they get more familiar, you can slowly introduce them to other parts of your place - until they have the run of it.
Food & Litter
Heads up: a lot of trial and error is going to come up in the food department as you figure out what your cat does - and doesn’t - like to eat. Paying attention to any dietary needs is especially important, since a change in eating habits is a common sign of serious health problems in cats.
Check with your vet or shelter staff to find out what foods kitty prefers, as well as how often mealtimes should be and portion size. Speaking of healthy eating, consider making multi-vitamins a regular part of kitty’s diet — our Scruffy Paws Daily Multi Health Bites can help with that.
Litter-wise, make sure the texture is soft (so it feels good on their paws) and absorbable. Clumping clay litter is a popular option, and for the organic material lovers? Litters made from pressed sawdust, wheat, or woodchips are great alternatives.
Sidenote: We have an article that’s all about litter boxes, if your cat happens to be going everywhere but inside it.
Depending on how old and agile your cat is, a little active fun does everyone good! Feel free to treat your cat and *yourself* to some toys that get you both moving for 10-15 minutes a few times a day.
The crowd pleasers tend to be toys you can have your cat chase around your place, and the cutting edge activity? Walking! If you and your cat are open to it, there are cat harnesses available for you and kitty to hit the sidewalk.
Cats love being clean, so you won’t have to worry too much about regular bath time the way you would with a dog. That said, a grooming brush is great for managing tangles and shedding (less hair means less hairballs), which all depends on your cat’s hair length, and your tolerance for cat hair (now’s a good time to tell you to start walking around with a travel size lint roller, you will get cat hair on your clothes).
And Most Importantly….
We know, we probably scared you as you read how big a commitment owning a pet is, and how the physical needs scratch the surface of a loving relationship. But look — you made it this far! If after reading this you decide you still want to give a kitty a loving home, or you’re trying again after another feline faux pas, then you’re exactly the kind of pet parent more furry ones need: patient, fun, and loving.
You go Cat Mom/Cat Dad!
Writer, Pet Enthusiast, Ambivert.