A First-Time Owner's Guide to Choosing and Taking Care of a Cat
Thu, October 21, 2021

A First-Time Owner's Guide to Choosing and Taking Care of a Cat

Cats make great companions and can also keep mice away. / Photo by: lithian via 123rf


Want to get a pet cat? According to Cornwell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, you should do your research and think of your options first before taking the plunge. Make sure you take into account the cat’s age, personality, and appearance, as well as the pets you currently have at home. 

Pet health news platform PetMD said cats make great companions. They can also keep mice away from your household. Cool, right? It’s nice to have a furry companion that will rub its head against your leg. But taking care of a cat also involves commitment and hard work. If you have decided to become a first-time cat owner, there are important pointers you should note before getting your own feline friend. 

Choosing the Right Cat 

Do you want to bring home a kitten, a juvenile, or an adult? Kittens are generally playful, curious, and energetic. You get to watch them grow into adults and even influence the development of their personality. If you want to have a kitten, it is more likely to be accepted by other pets in your house. 

On the other hand, the personality of an adult cat is already established. Hence, you’ll have a better picture of how it will “fit in your particular home situation.” Unlike kittens or juveniles, adult cats require less intensive care and supervision. As for the breed, you can either choose between a pedigreed or a mixed-breed feline. Both breeds can be an excellent companion. Generally, mixed-breed cats are classified either as domestic shorthairs or domestic longhairs. 

What’s so great about pedigreed cats is that its appearance, size, and, to a certain extent, its personality are likely to fit the profile of its particular breed. With mixed-breed cats, you can’t predict its size and appearance as accurately.

There are several signs of good health and temperament in a cat. Healthy ones should have clear, bright eyes with little or no tearing. Its nostrils should be clean and its ears should be free of any discharge. If a black tar-like discharge is present in the ear canal, it usually indicates an ear-mite infestation. Meanwhile, a pus-like discharge in the ear canal, nasal discharge, runny eyes, or sneezing are signs of a respiratory infection.  

The cat’s mouth and gums should be pink and moist and have no evidence of ulcers or sores. Its coat should be glossy and should show no signs of external parasites or bare spots, dandruff, or dry spots. The cat you should choose should not be too thin or have a protruding belly, as these can indicate the presence of internal parasites or a medical disorder. 

With regard to its behavior, it should be friendly and comfortable with people. A kitten should be active, responsive, and eager to play. Watch out for a cat that frequently hides or runs away or appears lethargic and sleeps often. If you still choose to take home an ailing cat, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. It’s costly but sick cats often recover and thrive with adequate care. 


Healthy cats have clear, bright eyes with little or no tearing. Its nostrils should be clean and its ears should be free of any discharge. / Photo by: AmnaS via Pixabay


Taking Care of the Cat

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommended that owners should purchase high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food. You can also consult with a veterinarian to assess your pet and determine the best diet for it. Your cat’s age, health, and activity levels can influence what and how much it should eat. 

Cats need taurine, an essential amino acid, for their eyes and heart. Provide fresh, clean water, washing and refilling the container on a daily basis. Treats should comprise no more than 10 to 15 percent of your cat’s diet.

Your pet cat should have access to a litter box. It can be simple or extravagant although most cats prefer simple ones without hoods. They also go for unscented, fine-textured litter. Keep the box clean and change the litter frequently. 

A clean, dry place in your home is best for your cat to sleep and rest in. Its bed should be lined with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Wash its bedding often. Cats rarely need a bath, as they can stay clean. However, you should brush or comb your cat’s coat to keep it clean, minimize the amount of shedding, and reduce hairballs. Brushing can be made easier if you train your cat to accept it when it’s young. 


The cat's bed should be lined with a soft, warm blanket or towel. / Photo by: Alena Ozerova via 123rf


Trim your cat’s nails regularly to help lessen the likelihood of damage to furniture and other house fixtures caused by sharp claws. It also reduces the chances of a nail growing into the footpad, which causes infection. This activity becomes easier if you train your cat to get used to it early on. 

You will also need to set up a sturdy scratching post for your cat, at least three feet high. The scratching post should be covered with tree bark, sisal, burlap, or any rough material. String, feathers, toy mice, and empty boxes will keep your cat amused. 

It’s fun having a loveable and adorable cat as your companion at home. Take note that you will be with your pet feline for many years. As an owner, you should be prepared to invest time and money to give it the care it deserves.