Tips for New Cat Owners

New cat owners should understand the importance of veterinary care for cats what it takes to have a happy cat.Whether you’ve owned cats for years, or are just delving into the world of being a cat parent, we can all agree that cats are the best. They are smart, loving, energetic, and so much fun to be around. And, either way, there is always more to learn about these creatures who we love so much.

Here are our tried and true tips for new cat owners, and a few ideas even seasoned cat owners might find useful.

Tips for New Cat Owners

Choose a cat-friendly veterinarian and practice. You may or may not be aware of the designation of Cat Friendly Practice, but there is such a certification, and it can make a big difference in your cat’s stress level at the veterinarian. As a Cat Friendly Practice, Berkeley Veterinary Center knows cats. We can guide you every step of the way with the special needs of your new friend. We have invested in how to make cats feel special, including how to use low stress handling techniques.

Get the most from your vet visit. At your first veterinary visit with your cat, we’ll do a complete physical exam and talk to you about your cat and their lifestyle. We’ll also set up a vaccination schedule, talk about parasite prevention, and answer your questions about nutrition, behavior, and training. Preventive care is the cornerstone of a lifetime of good health, and we recommend semi-annual visits for all cats.

The basics. Make sure you have the basic supplies you’ll need before bringing your new cat home:

  • Food and water bowls
  • At least two litter boxes (plus one for each additional cat)
  • Resting spots
  • Climbing spots
  • Scratching posts

Safety first. As current cat owners can attest, cats can go anywhere! Make sure your home is safe and anything valuable is put away, especially at first. Medications, poisonous plants, liquid potpourri and candles, and house cleaning supplies are all at the top of the list for things that should be put safely out of your cat’s reach. Cats are curious and mobile, and they will get into everything they can! Make sure windows and screens are locked and secure, to keep cats from falling out. And, keep our phone number and the emergency clinic number and address pre-programmed into your phone in case of an emergency.

Feed the best quality diet you can. Just as in people, good nutrition is vitally important for cats. Feeding a high quality diet not only helps your cat feel their best, but studies show that it can actually help them live a longer and healthier life. Ask us if you have any nutrition questions.

The Next Step

After you have the basics of cat ownership down, you may be wondering what other things you can do to be the absolute best cat parent you can be. If you’re thinking about this, read on!

Enrich their environment. This one’s for current cat owners, too! Cats have the athletic prowess of Olympic athletes, and strong natural instincts. Give them opportunities to exercise these hunting behaviors with these ideas:

  • Use vertical spaces to encourage climbing/ perching
  • Hide food on different levels of their climbing tree
  • Use food puzzles
  • Give them a catio for safe outdoor time
  • A game of laser pointer tag, or teach them how to fetch

Recognize signs of pain and discomfort. Cats have a powerful natural instinct to mask when they are in pain. This instinct protected them from predators in the wild, and helped them survive. Today, it’s up to us to recognize when they are suffering. Limping, vomiting, skipping meals, and difficulty breathing are not things to “wait and see”. See a veterinarian immediately to address your cat’s problems.

Groom and socialize with your cat daily. Cats are great groomers, but even they need a little help! Long-haired cats especially need to be groomed on a regular basis. Not only will grooming help your cat’s coat and skin look and feel beautiful, it will also build an important bond between the two of you. And, running your hands over your cat’s body every day will help you to recognize if something has changed.

We’re so happy for both new cat owners and those with a lot of experience, and we would love to see your new (or not so new!) cat soon. We are also excited to be sharing a free nail trim during each and every wellness exam, a $30 value. Call us today to schedule your appointment.

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