We Asked, You Answered: What's Your Best Advice You'd Give First-Time Cat Owners?

Prepare for Changes in Your Home

Life with a cat means your daily activities (and your house itself) will never be quite the same. "Put away anything that matters. They are curious and mobile," Shirley Ramsey says.

Speaking of that mobility: "Don't freak out when you realize they can go EVERYWHERE. They jump; they climb. And especially if you had a dog first, cats do things dogs would never do," Bev Kerwin says. "They are all different, butwith the two little devils I have now, I have accepted the fact that I will never put up a Christmas tree again!"

You'll want to be on your guard, especially at first. "Kitty-proof your house! ... They get into everything!" Pat Sherrer says.

Kelly LeBrun recommends, "Never buy new furniture." In a similar vein,Lori Meyer notes, "You will never again prepare or eat a meal in peace."

Get a Cat for the Right Reasons

Why do you want to add a feline to your family? "Don't get a cat because they're 'solitary' animals," Iris Schwartz warns. "Theyneed attention and affection."

"Pick your cat based on personality, not appearance," Marcia Landefeld adds."I have seen countless mismatches becausesomeone chose a cat because they liked the way it looked, or it reminded them of their deceased previous or childhood pet."

You should also be prepared to care for and love your cat even if her personality isn't exactly what you'd envisioned. "Understand not all cats are cuddly. Some remain a little aloof," Linda Windstein says. "Let them decide how they wantto act."

Care for and Love Your Kitty the Right Way

Whether you end up with a cat who you can hardly keep off your lap or one who prefers to hide under the bed for much of the day, there are plenty of things you'll need to do for her. For one thing, be sure to introduce her to your home in a way that builds confidence.

"Start off in a confined area till 100 percent litterbox trustworthy; the kitty will feel more secure, and you can bond faster," Ken Schoenebaum says. "Too many people bring home a cat or kitten and immediately turn them loose in their homeexpecting perfect behavior."

Oh, and while we're on the subject of litterboxes: "Keep the litter pan super clean and buy one of those large cat trees,"Carol Gillilie says. Lorraine Alexander agrees, saying, "Just love them and keep the litterbox cleaned each day. They are very clean by nature."

And keep in mind that cats can take some time to come out of their shells, so don't lose heart if yours is not a social butterfly right off the bat. "If you're adopting an adult cat, give them possibly many months to acclimate to your home and the people there," Darlene Marie says. "Mine had been a stray and hid the first few months. Now, three years later, she is my best buddy, areal sweetheart."

Finally, remember that all cats should receive proper vet care—even if getting there is a bit challenging. Rita Jackman is one of several commenters who suggests getting the cat microchipped, and Victoria Crissman says, "Do your homework. Read up on cats before getting one. Not only basic care but also body language, how to detect illness/injury and psychology."

And don't forget this sweet piece of advice from Michele Davis, who says, "Love him or her a lot and take lots of photos. Time goes by so fast."

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