Everything You Need To Know In Your First Year As A Cat Owner

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Everything You Need To Know In Your First Year As A Cat Owner

Taking care of a cat is a big responsibility, and while a lot of it is learning how your own feline friend wants to be cared for, there are a few things every new or aspiring cat owner should know. The first time I moved out of home, my new housemate was the proud mother of a grumpy tabby cat, one who I had to learn how to look after when his favourite human was out of town. Hopefully, these tips will help you navigate the waters of being a good cat owner, regardless of how they might enter your life. Here’s everything you need to know in your first year as a cat owner.

Feeding your cat

Unlike some animals, cats have very specific dietary requirements. You’ll need to prepare a diet that caters to all the major nutritional groups as well as keeping tabs on the amount that they eat.

Luckily for new cat owners, if you’re looking for an easy guide, cat food companies are pretty trustworthy for the average cat. That average cat should usually weigh somewhere in the ballpark of 3-4kg (with over 4.5kg being overweight), and this translates to roughly 24-35 calories per pound (when converted, just under or close to one 6oz can, or anywhere between 150-200g daily). This should be mainly comprised of nutrient rich meats such as fish.

If you’re feeding your cat that amount of food, remember that it’s calibrated to be their entire diet. If you want to put more on the plate for snacks or kibbles, you’ll be overfeeding them if you give more than a few without cutting a little out of its daily meal. A fat cat might be cute, but it might also lead to some pretty nasty health issues down the line.

Finally, remember that cats are referred to as obligate carnivores. This means that, unlike humans or even dogs, they must have meat in their diet to survive. Humans are omnivores, which means that they have adapted to go without meat. A cat without meat will get sick. Always make sure to consult your veterinarian when it deciding on the best diet for your cat.

Grooming your cat

Everybody loves a pampered puffball! Grooming your cat is largely the responsibility of your cat, who’ll spend hours a day cleaning and taking care of their coat and claws. If you’d rather see them sharpen themselves on something other than the couch though, you’ll need to take some steps to help them out.

The RSPCA have a fairly comprehensive guide to cat grooming that is worth familiarising yourself with. Take the time once or twice a month to give your cat a once-over, checking their eyes, ears, nose, paws, claws, mouth, teeth, gums, breathing and mobility.

It may sound like an exhausting checklist at first, but getting into the habit of performing basic checkups on your cat will allow you to quickly identify if something is ever wrong with their health, not to mention it will make communication with your vet much easier.

You should also take the time to trim your pet’s claws when they get out of line. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it stops them clawing things up, including accidentally clawing you when playing!

Get yourself a wire brush for grooming, and a specialty cat nail clipper (available at any pet store) for cutting. If you’re dealing with a cat that is new to the whole clipping process, start them off gradually by making them accustomed to having you near to or touching its paws, or you might be in for a slashy surprise if you suddenly introduce sharp metal near them.

Entertaining your cat

We tend to think of cats as making their own fun, and full of independence, but cats get bored too and need stimulation.

Just like how we might have a rumpus room separate from, say, the kitchen, cats need space that’s designed for play. If you’re going to set up a play space, do it in either a room or special corner where they can run around.

You don’t need much. A few high places to climb up to (bonus points if they’re near a window that your cat can gaze out of), a cat tree, a few balls or cat toys, and a scratching post will be all your cat needs for a life of luxury.

The most obvious way to entertain a cat, however, is with another cat. If you have room in your house and your budget will allow it, a sibling to play with will provide hours of fun as they devise new games and ways to play.

Adopting a cat is always the best option

Finally, if you’re contemplating getting a cat, you should strongly consider adopting an adult cat. An adult cat is a fully-formed individual that you’ll know the personality of immediately, and who’ll love you forever for taking them home.

You’ll save a life, be able to pick your perfect pet, and you’ll be able to bring it home immediately and start putting this guide to good use!

Shayen de Silva

Since I’ve been able to put crayon to paper, there’s nothing I’ve loved more than telling a good story.

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