5 Things First-Time Cat Owners Need to Expect
Sat, April 10, 2021

5 Things First-Time Cat Owners Need to Expect


Are you excited to own and take care of a cat? Raising a cat can be a rewarding experience but it also involves long-term commitment, said Aspen Grove Veterinary Care, an animal hospital that provides a state-of-the-art medical diagnosis and surgical treatments.

Early on, your new kitten or cat will need your time and attention, noted Pet Plan, a pet insurance company. If you have other fur buddies at home, you will need to consider how your cat would fit in and whether your home environment is suitable for your new family member.

How Do Australians Care and Manage Their Pet Cats? (2019)

In an online survey completed by a total of 6,808 respondents in Australia, 46.5% said their cat was never free-roaming (i.e. always indoors, in a cat run or equivalent containment, or on lead) while 29.3% said their cat could be free-roaming during the day or at night, according to Alicia Elliott and colleagues of biomedical and life sciences journal PMC. 24.3% said their cat might be free-roaming during the day only.

76.9% of respondents said their cat had been de-sexed while 72.2% reported having their pet felines microchipped. When the participants were asked about their past cats, 66.3% said they had lost at least one cat to one of the listed incidents associated with an outdoor lifestyle. They cited car accident (34.1%), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) (5.1%), dog attack (7.4%), injury from wildlife, skin cancer (5.7%), human attack (3.3%).

23.6% answered “Unknown, my cat never came home.” Other answers included ingesting poisons (ex: rat bait) (3.6%) and falling from a height (ex: out of a window or tree, or off a ledge) (1.1%). 88.63% of owners agreed (those who answered “agree” or “strongly agree”) that all pet cats should be contained at night, compared to 47.29% of those who agreed that cats should be contained at all times.

95.66% agreed that cats should be microchipped and 93.9% agree that pet felines should be de-sexed. When asked about where they get sources of advice for cat care and management, the respondents said their veterinarian (78.965), a general Google search (51.37%), RSPCA (43.67%), other cat shelter or rescue (34.27%), friends (29.98%), books (28.90%), family (28.01%), local council (17.72%), social media (15.43%), and cat breeder (14.67%).



Is It A Dog’s World?

In another survey by Cat Person, a brand that strengthens the bond between cats and cat persons, 71% of 1,000 cat owners were not completely satisfied with the selection of cat furniture while 33% were not satisfied with the overall options for cat products in pet stores, as cited by Business Wire, a press release distribution website. 47% of cat owners believed that cat products are underrepresented in pet stores.  

Further, cat owners wished they had healthier food options for their cat (74%) while others found the labels on the food confusing (60%). 54% of cat owners purchased products for their cats that were actually made for small dogs. Owners also believed that the pet industry is not investing enough in innovating products for cats (54%).  

What to Expect When Owning A Cat

1.     Veterinary Care

Research and choose a veterinary clinic before bringing your cat home, advised Blue Cross, an animal charity in the US. This way, you can immediately ask for help if your cat falls ill after getting it. If the kitten or cat you brought home does not have a previous vaccination history, you will have to take them to the veterinarian a few weeks upon arriving at home.

2.  First Meeting

Patience is indeed a virtue when bringing your cat home for the first time. Your first meeting may be rocky as your cat will need time to get used to its new surroundings. Some cats are more relaxed and confident, allowing them to acclimate to their home environment faster than nervous cats. Don’t force your cat to be friends with you. Give it space and in time, your cat will realize that you are providing it with food and shelter. When meeting your cat with other animals in the household, make sure that the latter are calm, controlled, and positive.

3.     Food

Recommended food quantities written on pet food containers are based on the amount needed by active cats living with other cats, said Aspen Grove. However, food quantities are lower for sedentary, neutered cats. If you are giving treats to give or reward your cat’s behavior, ensure that the treats’ caloric content is part of the total daily ration. Consider using food puzzles, interactive food toys, and/or food balls to increase physical activity during feeding time, decrease boredom, and aids in weight management. Food puzzles can be done using a cardboard box or a plastic beverage bottle with holes. Cats require protein from chicken, fish, duck, liver and Taurine— an amino acid.



4.     Home Safety

Bouquets containing lilies should not belong in your house as the pollen is toxic. Store cleaning products and medicines. Cats love climbing and walking on worktops and kitchen cupboards, knocking bottles and causing spillages. Spillages may prompt your cat to eat or lick them, which can be lethal. Antifreeze is also toxic as it causes seizures, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. Keep your cat indoors when cars are being de-iced. Call your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has swallowed anti-freeze.

5.     Outdoor Access

Keep your feline indoors for a minimum of two weeks before letting it out for the first time, allowing it to develop a stronger sense of belonging and forge a deeper bond with you. This is also the perfect time to begin your cat’s litter training. You might want to consider gently and gradually introducing a little harness and lead for its first few outdoor trips.

If your home is a secure place where your pet feels happy and relaxed, your cat will return from its trip. Don’t forget to have it microchipped or have some sort of identification before letting your cat venture the great outdoors. If you adopted your cat from a rehoming center, ask a representative about the time needed for your cat to acclimate to its new environment.  



Choose toys that are made for cats, not small dogs. Ensure that your pet’s cat food is high quality. Don’t be swayed by “catch phrases” (ex: “holistic”) on food labels. Ownership and management may also depend on the breed you want to get. Hence, it is recommended to do your research to assess if a particular cat breed is suitable for your lifestyle.