With the arrival of a new cat, we do everything we can to make sure everything goes smoothly. But there are often little common mistakes that slip past us. These small things can sometimes compromise the well-being of your cat in their new environment.
Adopting any animal should always be done with a lot of forethought and care; if you have already owned a cat you will be well aware of this fact.
In order to ensure your cat adjusts smoothly, take note of these 11 mistakes made by new cat owners.
Mistake #1: Thinking that cats don't take a lot of work
We often have the idea that cats are independent and live their lives relatively alone. While usually independent creatures, cats typically don't like to live alone. Having a human companion there is reassuring to any cat, regardless of the relationship between them and their parent. Time to play, feed, provide toys and stimulation, care and hygiene are all factors to be considered.
Kittens on the other hand require a lot of attention. Time must be taken to familiarise a kitten with its environment and to teach them the basic rules of education. You will also need to feed them and (more than likely want to) play with them. Even if a kitten spends a lot of time asleep, their waking moments need to be filled with a lot of one-one-one interaction - or you could end up with a shredded house!
Mistake #2: Not organising a visit to the vet
Whatever the breed of your cat, they need to have regular check-ups at the vet. These appointments are necessary for their well-being and will alert you to anything wrong if ever your cat gets ill. Ultimately, the health of your cat is paramount and your responsibility.
From a very young age, get them used to visits to the vet. This will pay off when they are older and less stressed at the idea of being examined.
Mistake #3: Not choosing a cat suited to your lifestyle
You may like a certain cat breed because they are beautiful according to your personal tastes. However, many people forget that all cats have different personalities, as well as characteristic traits specific to their breed.
You should take these characteristics into consideration well before the physical aspects of the breed you wish to adopt. Take a look at our article on what kind of cat would suit you to find out more information.
Mistake #4: Neglecting to neuter or spay your cat
We cannot stress this enough: neutering or spaying a cat is necessary to their wellbeing. They are considerably more comfortable once sterilised, letting them live longer and happier lives. You also avoid the incessant meowing and hormonal mood swings when they are on heat.
Make sure you read our article on sterilising your cat to know about the reasons and benefits on your cat's behaviour and wellbeing.
Mistake #5: Letting your cat roam
This is a very contentious issue. To roam or not to roam? That is the question. We often hear that indoor cats are unhappy, but these reports are not necessarily true. Some cat breeds even prefer to remain indoors!
As a whole, outdoor cats have a shorter life expectancy than indoor cats. Our domesticated cats are more fragile than they seem and letting them out is a riskier option to their health and wellbeing - consider cars, thieves, cat fights, insect bits, etc.
A cat doesn't necessarily need to go out if they have all they need for their health (including grass) and to be stimulated in an indoor environment. You can, however, walk your cat to get them outdoors and enjoy some time with them in a new environment.
While we believe it is up to each individual and their circumstances, the average lifespan figures for indoor vs. outdoor cats speak for themselves: 19 years for indoor, four years for outdoor!
Mistake #6: Not taking the time to educate your cat
Your cat might have everything they need to play and relax, but you will also need to take the time to teach them how to behave. Certain behaviours can be frustrating, such as their tendency to scratch the sofa or relieve themselves anywhere.
You should take the time to learn about why they are behaving this way through observation - even a chat with your vet if you're unsure. Positive education methods will help to train them on the behaviours acceptable to you.
Mistake #7: Not having a routine in place for cleaning the kitty litter
The trial of cleaning the kitty litter regularly can prove difficult for new cat owners. This task, however, is crucial for the hygiene of your companion.
There are specific techniques for cleaning your cat's litter. Cats are very demanding animals in terms of cleanliness. If their litter is not clean or adapted to their needs, they will have no hesitation in relieving themselves wherever they feel suits them. Follow this guide to kitty litter to find out what you need to know.
Mistake #8: Forgetting a scratching post and cat grass
The scratching post is necessary for your cat's wellbeing. Most cat trees include a scratching post but this is not always the case. You can buy one, but you can also get your DIY on and make it yourself. There are many cardboard items that cats can scratch as well.
As for cat grass, this is equally important because it allows them to have a well-working digestive system. Cat grass allows a cat to regurgitate the many hairs they ingest during grooming. Take a look at our article on cat grass to learn more about why its needed.
Mistake #9: Not worrying about your cat's behavior
When you adopt your cat, you and they will take time to learn about each other's character. As time goes on, your cat will become more relaxed around you and settle into what becomes their normal behaviour. Try to understand this behaviour.
Observe eating and napping habits, grooming and movement. As you learn about your cat, so too will you become familiar with their behaviour and when something seems out of character or wrong with them.
Mistake #10: Forgetting your cat during times of change
Change is inevitable. This can come in the form of moving house, a divorce, arrival of a new baby, a new pet, and so on.
Cats are like us: a big change can leave them stressed, frightened or overstimulated. Therefore, behaviour can often be out of the ordinary. The more prepared we are to receive news, the easier it is to manage the situation. The same goes for your cat.
While not everything can be relayed and explained to your cat in the same way as it can to another human, try to provide them with additional attention and care during such times. If change can be made gradually then all the better!
Mistake #11: Not providing them with enough stimulation
All cats should have a private space of their own. Your cat needs to have a place to rest, eat, play, and observe where they can be stimulated both mentally and physically. They will also need to have play toys. If one of these elements is missing, behavioural issues may develop. Stimulation is key to this!
Read our article on 7 ways to entertain and stimulate your house cat.
What did you forget about when you got your first cat?