Tips and Tricks for First Time Cat Owners

We are a publicly-supported 501C3 nonprofit. Your purchase through links on our site supports our mission. Learn more.

Adopting a cat is a wonderful way to enrich your life. Some studies reflect that cat  owners are healthier, enjoy better sleep, and are less likely to suffer from loneliness. Cats make loving, affordable, and relatively independent household pets and are an excellent option if you don’t have the time or space for a dog. 

Few things are more exciting than bringing home a new pet. But if you want to enjoy a smooth adoption, you have to be prepared! Being a first-time cat owner is a lot more work than it may seem. While the work is well worth it, it’s best to know what you’re getting into so you can ensure your home and life are properly prepared. 

Fortunately, there are countless resources available online that can help you navigate the ins and outs of cat ownership. Here are some essential things to keep in mind as you embark on your journey into the wonderful world of cat ownership.

Budgeting for Care Costs
While pet owners frequently report that cats are cheaper to care for than dogs, you will still need to be prepared for various care expenses. Make sure you consider medical costs, especially if you’re adopting a senior cat. 

Over the course of their life, your cat will need regular trips to the vet—and possibly a few unexpected medical treatments. Major vet bills can really take you by surprise if you’re not prepared. Pet insurance can be a huge help in the event that your cat develops a costly medical condition or suffers an injury that requires surgery. 

Even if your cat is young and healthy right now, a good pet insurance policy can offer peace of mind that you will always be able to make the best care decisions for your cat without worrying about the cost of their treatment. Research different pet insurance companies so you can find the best policy for your needs.

Vet Visits
After your cat’s initial vet visit—which should happen soon after adoption—your cat will need to take a trip to the veterinarian at least once every year. During these annual visits, your vet will assess the health of your cat and check for potential issues.

It takes a trained eye to spot these health problems since cats are very good at hiding discomfort. Trips to the vet are also a great opportunity to discuss preventive care strategies that will keep your feline friend happy and healthy for many years to come!

Keep in mind that you may have to account for more frequent vet visits as your cat grows older. Experts recommend that senior cats visit the vet twice per year since age-related diseases can come on quickly.

Cat-Proofing Your Home
Ideally, you would spend some time cat-proofing your home before adopting your pet, but it’s never too late to make your house a safer place for your new friend. Start by checking your home for small, loose items that your cat could chew or swallow. 

Erasers, board game pieces, toy accessories, and twist ties are common culprits. Ensure that all of your houseplants are safe for cats and check that your window screens are securely latched.

Also, keep in mind that cats love to scratch, climb, and knock things off shelves. While it may be difficult to restrict your cat’s access to your furniture, you can redirect their tendencies with a cat tower and scratching post.

Basic Cat Supplies
It doesn’t take much to keep cats happy, but a few basic supplies will help your cat maintain their physical and mental health. When it comes to food, choose a formula that is specifically designed for the developmental stage of your cat. Senior cats, for example, often need more protein in their diet to reduce age-related muscle mass loss.

Cats can be vulnerable to dehydration, so a cat water fountain might be a good purchase to encourage your pet to stay hydrated. Of course, you’ll also need a litter box filled with litter, a collar and ID tag, bedding, a cat carrier for those visits to the vet, and plenty of interactive toys.

To get the most out of your cat’s toys, keep only three or four available at a time and rotate them weekly.

Your First Days Together
Those first few days are going to be very exciting for you, but they can be nerve-wracking for your new cat. Cats don’t handle changes in their routine or environment very well. If your cat spends the first couple of days hiding from you, don’t worry! They will warm up to you and your home as they begin to feel more comfortable. Give your cat plenty of space to explore on their own.

It’s also a good idea to set up a quiet, private area where your cat can feel safe as they become familiar with your house. A laundry room or spare bedroom works great! Position their food and water on one side of the room and their litter box on the other, and include a covered hiding place where they can rest when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Should You Let Your Cat Outside?
As your cat gets accustomed to your home, you may wonder whether or not you should let them roam around outside. While many people let their cats spend time outside, giving your pet free roam of the great outdoors can cause a number of problems for your furry friend, other people’s pets, and the local wildlife.

Cats that spend time outside face a far greater risk of injury and illness. Free-roaming cats can also ingest toxic plants or become exposed to dangerous chemicals like antifreeze and rodent bait. And although cats love to hunt small prey and can be great rodent deterrents, American Bird Conservancy explains that they can cause a lot of damage to local ecosystems.

Training Your Feline Friend
Despite what many people believe, you can train cats to learn appropriate behaviors and fun tricks. Training is a great way to establish behavioral expectations and bond with your feline friend. When it comes to training, rewarding good behavior is far superior to punishing unwanted behavior. Disciplining your cat can cause fear and anxiety. Like dogs, cats are highly motivated by food and play, and you can use both of these rewards to reinforce desirable behaviors!

As an example, if you want to train your cat to come when called, you should offer tasty treats when they come running in response to their name. Keep your training sessions short and practice often to help your cat learn new skills quickly.

When it comes to adopting pets, you can never be too prepared! Learn as much as you can about adopting and caring for a cat before you make the leap and bring home a furry friend of your own.

Article content provided from our friends at Fur and Feathers.


With your help, we can keep senior pets out of shelters and place them in loving, caring homes. Your gift can help save senior pets from an uncertain future.

Scroll to Top