Your First Feline Friend: A New Cat Owner's Ultimate Guide

Your First Feline Friend: A New Cat Owner's Ultimate Guide



So you are thinking of getting your first cat? 🐾 I'm sure you have a ton of questions and I’m thrilled to share my journey and insights with you. When I first brought home my adorable fluffball, Sphinx, I was over the moon, but also a tad overwhelmed. Cats aren't just pets; they're family members with their own personality, quirks, and charms. So, buckle up for a fun, furry ride as we delve into the purr-fect guide for new cat owners!


One cat or more?


Cats are social animals and love company; this is great if you have other pets or if you work from home as you will have a constant distraction… I mean companion. I understand that most people have limited space and cannot have two little balls of energy tearing up their apartment. However, if your lifestyle does allow for more than one pet, I highly recommend getting 2 cats.  

Single cats tend to be extremely bonded with their hooman, following them everywhere and never allowing a closed door between them. This can get a bit overwhelming especially when you are trying to get some work done or trying to relax. Having a second cat allows them to play and build on their natural hunting proclivity. It also allows them not to get too bored when you are not around.


Preparing Your Home


Creating a Cat-Friendly Environment


Cats love cozy corners and high perches. I learned this the hard way when I found Sphinx on top of the fridge! Making your home cat-friendly is all about understanding their love for exploration and comfort. Make sure to have somewhere your cat can go to feel safe, preferably dark and covered. This will be a most important place for your new cat when it first gets brought home. Your new kitty will want a place to feel safe before they can explore their new surroundings. Alternatively, when they are feeling curious have a space near a window higher up where they can keep an eye on their pride.

Kittens, much like any other animal, go through a gnawing phase. Remember to not leave any wires exposed and to put away your charging cables. While their tiny teeth cannot do much damage to shoes or clothes, wires are the perfect size to nibble on. Don’t forget to hide away any hair elastics or elastic bands too! These inconspicuous ‘toys’ can cause a lot more harm than good to your cat so be always vigilant they do not get a chance to eat these!

Take any small items like small pots or decor items away from window ledges and reachable shelves. Cat’s love exploring and will push through obstacles to get to where they are going. They also love pushing things with their tiny paws and watch things fall. I have lost so many planters this way 😢 RIP planters.


Essential Supplies


Let’s talk about litter boxes, food bowls, and laser toys! I’ve gone through my fair share of trial and error with these. Remember, what works for one cat might not work for another so take the following advice as a guide and find your own path.

Let’s break down all the gear you will need to get started:

  1. Litter boxes: The golden rule is to have one litter box per cat in the house +1. Cat’s can get territorial and having an extra litter box in multi-cat households, allows them to have a place of their own where they can go in peace. If you have only one cat, then a single litter box will suffice.

    Budget choice: 
    IRIS USA Open Top Cat Litter Tray

    Convenience choice: Litter-Robot 4 Beginner Bundle

    Editors choice: Purina Tidy Cats Breeze XL

    Litter System

  2. Litter: While the list of litter is quite frankly overwhelming my go to is wood pellets. They are low tracking, neutral smelling, environmentally friend and cheap. Best of all they do not cause any health problems and is completely biodegradable. I have gone over this topic in more detail in this post.

    Budget choice: Tidy Cats Lightweight Cat Litter

    Premium choice: Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Cat Litter

    Editors choice: Fresh News Post Consumer Paper Pellet Cat Litter

    (I personally just go to the hardware store and purchase wood pellets that are used for fireplaces. They are usually less than $8 a 40lbs bag!!)

    Cat water fountain

  3. Water fountain: Cats know to avoid standing water right from birth as standing water in the wild can contain pathogens. Hence why I would recommend getting a water fountain. Place the water fountain away from their food as cats don’t like their food near water. I keep my water fountain under a little side table so they feel safe when drinking.

    Budget choice: 
    Catit Senses 2.0 Cat Flower Fountain

    Premium choice: Cepheus 360 Ceramic Pet Fountain (Tiffany Blue)

    Editors choice: Pioneer Pet Raindrop Fountain

    Cat food

  4. Cat food: This is a huge topic of contention with even vets not agreeing on the best practice. This is going to be a bit of trial and error but what worked best for me is to give them dry food in the morning and wet food in the evening. This allows them to crunch into something, slowing the buildup of plaque on their teeth and the wet food provides them with plenty of moisture. Some people swear by raw food, but I have found the high costs and high susceptibility of viruses are a turn off.

    Wet Food

    Budget choice: Purina Friskies Pâte Greatest Hits

    Premium choice: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Pate

    Editors choice: Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food

    Dry Food

    Budget choice: WHISKAS Meaty Selections

    Premium choice: Royal Canin Feline Indoor Adult

    Editors choice: Purina ONE True Instinct

    cat playing with toy

  5. Cat toys: While laser pointers are fun it is not always the best toy for cats as cats like to enjoy their prey when they are done playing with it. I would suggest puzzle toys and handheld teasers as they allow the cats to practice their natural instincts. Automated toys are good for a day, but cats get bored of them too easily as they do not provide the same interaction as something that you move around yourself.

    When playing with your cat, allow them to catch the toy a couple of times. This shows them that it can be caught and will prolong their attention.

    Budget choice: Oziral Cat Teaser

    Premium choice: Cheerble Interactive Cat Ball

    Editors choice: Cat Amazing Sliders

    cat getting nail clipped

  6. Nail clippers: Yes, you will need to clip your cat's nails on a regular basis. Much like us, cat’s nails are constantly growing, and they will instinctively keep their nails sharp by scratching. If you want to keep your arms safe from their playful swipes, I would suggest getting a clipper and clipping their nails regularly. You don’t need anything fancy here just cheap pet nail clippers will do as long as they are sharp.

    Budget choice: Candure Cat Nail Clippers

    Premium choice: Resco Professional Nail Grooming Kit

    Editors choice: Resco Original Deluxe Cat Nail/Claw Clippers.

    cat getting brushed

  7. Hairbrush: If your cat is anything like mine, your entire life is going to be covered in a thin layer of cat fur. To minimize this, I would suggest getting a hairbrush and brushing your cat at least once a week if not more. This serves two functions, cats love grooming and you grooming them forms a tighter bond. As a bonus, the next time you go out you don’t look like a crazy cat person covered head to toe in fur.

    Budget choice: Wahl Cat De-Shedding Glove

    Premium choice:
    Vokiuler Two-sided Cat Hair Brush

    Editors choice:
    BaBylissPRO Two-sided Club Brush

    cat scratching post

  8. Scratching post: Cat’s instinctively will claw at things to keep their nails sharp. After all they are apex predators. To keep your furniture safe from their tiny daggers, I would suggest getting a scratching post, or two. I keep one in every room, so they always have a place to scratch, keeping my furniture safe.

    Budget choice: Made4Pets Cat Scratching Post

    Premium choice:
    Vesper V-Box Large Walnut

    Editors choice:
    Dohump 33" Cat Scratching Post

    Cat in cat tree

  9. Hidey holes and Perches: Cat’s like hiding in places where they can keep an eye on you while still being out of reach. Covered baskets, shipping boxes and felt coves are great options to have around the house. Some furniture manufacturers even make side tables with cat holes built in for the discerning cat parent. Try to have perch’s setup near windows so they can keep an eye on the world and a cove somewhere in your living room that they can see you but maybe slightly out of reach. I have a tall cat tree that serves both purposes that I leave next to my window so they can choose their own adventure. 

    Budget choice: Linghe Cat Nest Instant Noodle Shape

    Premium choice: VYBE Cats - Feline Fortress 

    Editors choice: SDHYL Modern Wood Cat Condo with Scratching Post

Cat Behavior

Understanding Basic Cat Behaviors

The first thing you are going to notice is how your cat’s tail seems to have a life of its own. Cat’s use a combination of their tails and ears to communicate with us. When Sphinx first flicked his tail in that mysterious way, I was puzzled. So here are a few signs you should look out for:
  1. Tail straight up and quivers with their ears up: Means they love you and you are their favorite hooman.

  2. Tail straight up and ears up: They like you and are happy and comfortable

  3. Tail up, hair standing on end, arched back, ears down: They are scared and are defensive- do not approach

  4. Tail between legs and ears down: The cat is submissive, they could be scared or in some cases in pain

  5. Tail wiggling, ears on alert: The cat is on high alert and may not be comfortable in that situation or senses possible danger
Turns out, it's all about communication! And let’s not forget those middle-of-the-night zoomies – a true cat classic!


Socializing Your Cat

If you already have pets in the house remember to introduce them slowly to your new cat.  It will take patience and lots of treats, but eventually they will go from archenemies to nap buddies. Cats are social creatures in their own right and watching them form bonds is truly heartwarming.


Health and Wellness

Regular Veterinary Care

Our feline friends can be masters of disguise, especially when unwell. Regular vet visits are crucial. I learned about our Artemis’ irregular heartbeat during a routine check-up – a game changer for her health. Early detection allows preemptive and preventative care rather than more expensive surgery or tests later. This will also prolong the life of your furry friend leading to more fun adventures.
I would suggest going to the vet at least once a year to make sure they are staying within their weight target and to catch any issues early one. Remember prevention is always better than curing.


Nutrition and Exercise

Did you know that cats can get bored of their food? Yes, it’s true! I regularly change up their food to make it more exciting for them but to also make sure they do not develop any deficiencies by always eating the same thing.
Exercise is also key. Cats can spend more than 16 hours a day sleeping to conserve energy. In the wild this is used as a self-preservation tactic so that their food can last a long time before they are able to catch their next prey. However, at home where they do not have to worry about food, cats tend to pack on the pounds pretty quick if you do not play with them often enough.
Make sure that you interact with your cat when playing with them as this builds a stronger bond and keeps the cats entertained. A lot of automatic toys have very basic move patterns and cats will quickly pick up on this and lose interest. Not to mention that they lose out on quality bonding time.


Training and Behavior Management

Litter Box Training

Patience is key! And if accidents happen (and they will), remember, it's all part of the journey. Cats will instinctively look for a soft pliable area to relive themselves however they are not always the smartest. If they do happen to have an accident somewhere that is not the litter box, soak a paper towel in their pee and leave in in their litter box. The cat will smell it out and will know where to go next time. The same trick can be used for No.2 Just place it in the litter box till they have to go the next time and viola you have just potty trained your cat. You can purchase spray cleaners that break down the enzymes in urine that can help rid any smells you might encounter.


Behavioral Training

Training a cat to high-five? Totally possible! It’s all about finding the right motivation. Some cats like affection and some treats. My cats unfortunately go into a psychotic fervor every time they see a treat, so it is not the right motivation for them to learn new tricks. On the other hand, they do well with affection, which may take longer but is sooo much cheaper than buying more treats.

Long-Term Care and Considerations

Adopting vs. Buying

While there is no harm in buying, especially if you want a particular breed of cat that you have been eyeing for a while. There are so many cats out there that are looking for a loving home that you could choose from. So far, all my cats have been adopted right off the streets and it has to be one of my best decisions. Each cat has a unique story, and adopting gives you a chance to be a part of that beautiful tale.

While everyone wants kittens that they can cherish for a long time, I would suggest first time owners to go to your local shelter to adopt an older cat. Older cats are generally potty trained and don’t have the same high energy as kittens making learning so much easier. By the time I got my first kitten we had already had multiple older cats that taught me so much.


Planning for the Future

Thinking long-term is essential. From pet insurance to emergency plans, being prepared is the best way to show love for your furry friend. Remember there is not one magical formula for everyone. Start off small by establishing a relationship with your local vet so they know your cat’s history and work up from there.



That’s a wrap! You should now be fully equipped to get your first cat! I hope my stories and tips help you navigate the wonderful world of cats. Remember, every cat is unique, and that's what makes the journey so special. Embrace the quirks, cherish the cuddles, and get ready for an adventure filled with purrs and play!
I’d love to hear your cat tales and tips, too! Share your stories in the comments and let's build a community of cat lovers. 🐱💖


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