by Ben Team
Adopting a cat is usually a fun experience, but there’s a lot more to being a cat owner (or servant, as the case may be) than many first-time cat owners suspect. In fact, novice owners often make several common missteps during the first few weeks of cat parenthood, including a few that can have long-term ramifications.
But don’t worry — we’ll help you get started on the right paw. Below, we share four important things new cat owners should do when bringing home a new feline.
1. Establish a Relationship with a Vet
Hopefully, your cat will live a long, healthy life so you won’t have to take him to the vet very often. But even the healthiest cats will require routine vaccinations and periodic physicals. So, find a vet you like as soon as possible; ideally, you should head straight to the vet after adopting a cat.
Your vet will not only be able to spot potentially worrying health conditions, but he or she will also get to meet your cat and get a good idea of your cat’s “baseline” health and demeanor. This could save both time and money on future visits, as your vet will be more familiar with your cat’s specific traits and tendencies.
2. Have All of the Necessary Supplies on Hand Before Bringing Your Cat Home
You may very well be holding your new cat in your arms when you read this, but if you haven’t yet picked up your new four-footer, head over to the pet store and purchase all of your supplies first. This way, you’ll be completely prepared for your new pet and won’t have to make any last-minute runs to the pet store after bringing them home.
At minimum, you’ll want to be sure you have the following on hand:
- Collar and ID tag
- Age-appropriate food
- Litter box and litter
- A few cat toys
- Nail clippers
- Scratching post
- Cat tree
3. Make Introductions Gradually
Some cats are friendly and outgoing, while others are reserved. Those in the former category will often warm up to the people in your home quickly, while those in the latter group may take some time to do so. Be sure that you allow these shy cats to open up on their own timeline, as forced introductions can just exacerbate any fear they’re feeling and make them more reclusive.
It’s also important to introduce your new cat to any other pets you may have gradually. Don’t bring Fluffy home and put her on the floor right in front of your Saint Bernard — no matter how friendly your pooch may be. Instead, let your cat check out other pets from afar until he’s ready to go up and introduce himself. Always supervise introductions carefully, and be ready to step in and separate your critters if either animal reacts aggressively or defensively.
4. Keep Your Pet’s Stress Level Low by Learning How to Calm a Cat
Moving into a new home is often stressful for cats, so you’ll want to do everything you can to reduce your new feline friend’s stress and help her stay calm. But, unfortunately, learning how to calm a cat is often tricky, especially for first-time cat owners.
Providing some type of sanctuary where your cat can retreat is a good first step. A cat tree with a hiding space will work well, or you may want to keep your cat in a separate room that remains largely off-limits to family members and other pets. After a day or so, you can crack open the door so your cat is free to explore once he’s brave enough to do so.
Some owners have also found that CBD — short for cannabidiol, one of the components of the cannabis plant — can help keep their cat calm and relaxed, thereby accelerating the transition process. Speak to your vet about CBD if you think it may help, and be sure to browse Heelr’s broad selection of tinctures and chews once you get the veterinary green light.
Ben Team is a lifelong environmental educator and animal-care professional, who now writes about animals, outdoor recreation and the natural world. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a spoiled-rotten rottweiler, who is probably begging him to go to the park at this very moment.