Disclaimer: the staff writers here are not vets nor are they qualified to give medical advice. This article’s purpose is strictly to share stories/information and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Please take your cat to the vet if you suspect anything might be wrong with them. Your vet will know best what to do in your specific situation.
If you’re reading this magazine, especially if you’re a regular reader, chances are you already have a cat or three — or, at the very least, are a cat lover like the rest of us here. Although it would be easy to assume that most of our readers are already familiar with the basics of cat care, it’s also possible that some readers might have never had a cat of their own or have come here to learn more about what life with a cat is like. Julius’ post this month highlights a lot of the things cats enjoy doing and having in their home. This article serves to outline the very basics of cat care, what cats need, and what to do to prepare for bringing home your first furbaby.
Before you bring your kitty home, you will need to cat-proof your house and make sure it’s safe for your new friend. You will need to safely store cleaning products and other potentially toxic items out of your cat’s reach. Remember that cats are very agile and can climb. They will be able to jump onto high shelves and climb into cabinets and drawers. You might want to purchase locks or baby-proofing supplies to prevent your cat from investigating places you don’t want them in.
You will need to purchase a cat carrier for transporting your cat. Many shelters will give you a temporary cardboard carrier to take your cat home, but it’s a good idea to purchase a large, sturdy one for safer transport, especially since your cat will need to visit a vet very soon (see below).
Most cats are low-maintenance pets. Some, however, will require more intensive care and attention than others. Very young kittens, very old cats, and cats with special needs or certain health conditions will need more attention than “average” cats. Some need special diets or need medicines administered regularly. When adopting a cat, it’s good to familiarize yourself with any health conditions they might have and what care they will need in the future, including vaccinations. As soon as you get a new cat (or even before you adopt the cat), it’s important to find a veterinarian and consult with them about your cat’s specific needs.
Your cat will need a safe, quiet part of the house that can be theirs. Cats love having boxes and other hidden cubbies where they can hide. They also like having access to soft beds and cat trees.
Your cat will need food/water bowls and a litter box. Their water should be replenished at least once a day. Consult with your vet regarding food choices and an appropriate feeding schedule. Their litter box should also be changed frequently, especially if you are using litter that is not odor-absorbent.
Your cat will appreciate having toys to play with. There are many kinds of toys to choose from, and it might take some trial-and-error to figure out which ones your cat likes best. Your cat will also benefit from having access to a scratching post. It might not completely prevent them from clawing your furniture, but it might help.
Your cat will also need grooming supplies, such as nail clippers and a hairbrush. Trimming your cat’s claws is a good way to protect yourself from scratches, as well as reducing damage to your furniture. Brushing your cat regularly promotes bonding between the two of you and helps prevent hairballs.
Getting a cat can be overwhelming, but it is also extremely rewarding. Cats bring joy to and enrich the entire household, and it’s nice to have a furry friend around to keep you company.