New Cat Owner? Safety Tips Every First-Time Cat Parent Needs to Know
Getting a new cat can be both exciting and intimidating. As a new cat owner, you only want what’s best for your kitty, but might be worried you’ll overlook or forget something your furry friend needs.
What can you do to keep your new kitty happy, safe, and healthy? Below, Cat in a Flat explains prep, tips and tricks every new cat owner should know.
How to prepare for a new cat
First things first, you’ll need to have a few things ready before you bring your kitty home. Here is a simple checklist of must-haves for new cat owners:
- Food bowls. Purchase multiple food bowls for your new kitty so you can switch used bowls out for clean ones every day.
- Multiple water bowls. Cats drink a lot of water, so it’s important to have multiple clean water sources available for your new cat. Remember to keep food and water bowls away from each other as Mr Whiskers won’t like having his food and water side by side.
- Healthy cat food. As a new cat owner, it’s important you do research into which type of food is healthiest for your kitty. This can depend on age, the cat breed, and health issues, if any, your new fur friend has. Keep in mind that cats can get bored of their food, so it’s not unusual to need to change the type of food your kitty eats at some later point.
- Multiple litter trays. One litter box can work fine for your new kitty if you clean it twice a day. However, if you have the space, set out two litter boxes for your fur friend. Not sure what’s the best way to clean your cat’s litter box? Here are a few tips!
- A cat tree. Our furry friends love high places, so you need to provide vertical spaces for your new cat to climb. Some cat trees even double as beds and scratching posts!
- Scratching posts/scratching pads. Unless you want your feline to scratch your furniture, make sure you provide plenty of scratching pads and posts around the home for them to use.
- Cat toys. However, not all cat toys are created equal. This guide of dangerous toys for cats is useful for any new cat owner.
- Cat beds. Cats sleep a lot, so you’ll want to make sure your furry friend has plenty of comfy napping spots. As a new cat owner, you don’t need to drop a lot of cash on expensive beds. Cats love boxes and a box with a cosy blanket inside will make a quiet and safe napping spot for your kitty.
- Cat carrier. Of course, you’ll need something to bring your kitty home in! Make sure the carrier is big enough for Mr Whiskers to stand up in, and opt for hard over soft. But before you get your new cat into their carrier, don’t forget to put down a soft blanket so that they’re comfortable.
How to cat proof your home
Now that you’re stocked up on everything your feline needs, it’s time for the next important step as a new cat owner: cat proofing your home. Here are a few steps to make your house a safe place for your new kitty.
- Remove potential toxins. Cats are very curious, and your new fur friend will surely try to explore every nook and cranny of their new home. Remove potential cat hazards by storing any toxic cleaning materials away in a high cupboard and giving away poisonous plants. Here is a comprehensive list of indoor plants that are safe and unsafe for cats.
- Keep your windows closed. Leaving windows open, especially if you live on a high floor, can be dangerous for your kitty. It’s all too easy for a feline—especially one in a new home—to get spooked and fall off of or become trapped on a ledge.
- Secure cords and strings. Cats love chewing on strings and cords, and this can be both a choking hazard and an electrocution hazard. Secure electrical cords and tie up cords for curtains and blinds. Keep yarn, thread, and anything else resembling string stored away out of paw’s reach too.
- Secure small spaces. Do a ‘new cat owner’ check of your home to make sure there aren’t any small spaces where your kitty can crawl into and become trapped. This includes ducts, crawl spaces, and other small areas. Make sure these are covered and secured before your new cat comes home with you.
- Put away food. Never underestimate a cat’s ability to get into everything. Make sure you store away any food that isn’t cat food, as some items that are fine for humans are unsafe for cats to eat.
How can a new cat owner set the rules?
It might be tempting to spoil your kitty rotten. However, it’s important to set boundaries with your new fur friend. You want to be the one to set the rules, not the other way around!
One of the first things new cat owners should know is that our fur friends don’t react well to scolding or punishment. Cats will see scolding as attention and will tend to grow frightened of a new owner if they’re punished. Create a positive relationship by avoiding scolding or punishing your cat. Instead, ignore your cat if they’re acting up. This is something felines hate, and they’re more likely to learn from their mistakes if they think they lose your attention as a result.
Positive reinforcement is another way new cat owners can help their kitties adjust to a new home. Ignore bad behaviour but be sure to reinforce good behaviour. So, when your kitty uses their scratching pad instead of your sofa to sharpen their claws, reward them with treats, playtime, or cuddles (or all three!). Apply this to any other pawsitive behaviour your fur friend shows.
Creating a routine and sticking to it is another important way that new cat owners can set boundaries with their kitties. Our feline friends love routine, which is why big changes like moving house or traveling can be stressful for cats. Create as stable an environment as possible for your fur friend by feeding them on a schedule and having a daily playtime routine too.
Do you have a trip planned and aren’t sure what to do with your new kitty? We’ve got you covered! Check out our blog posts explaining everything you need to know about cat sitting and what to look for in a cat sitter.