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

Cat portrait
One of our readers has a great piece of advice: Remember to take lots of photos of your kitty.

What would life be like without a cat weaving her way between your feet or curling up on your newspaper every time you sit down to do the Sunday crossword? It might be difficult for you to imagine, but for folks who've never enjoyed the companionship of a kitty, picturing life  with one can be equally challenging.

Of course, there are many ways to prepare a first-time cat owner for bringing a feline friend into her life. In fact, we have loads of articles on the topic, discussing important aspects of cat ownership, like cat-proofing your home, teaching a kitten to enjoy being groomed and more.

But we know our readers have plenty of experience — and advice — to share as well, so we took to Facebook and asked our fans: What's the one piece of advice you'd offer someone getting their  first cat? Many of the responses are serious, and a few are tongue in cheek (like Connie Scharbor's advice: "Get ready to lose your authority"), but truly, though this isn't an exhaustive list, there is so much good advice that we just have to share. 

Cats Are Not Dogs

This might seem like an obvious statement, but for anyone who's had only canines as pets, it's a helpful distinction to make. While cats can certainly be trained, working with a cat can be quite different from working with a dog. "Patience!" Janne Kenney urges.

That sentiment is shared by numerous commenters, including Lois McGinnis, who says, "Be patient; do not expect it to act like your dog."

Mary Beth Short agrees, saying, "Let them come to you. Don't force it."

(It's worth noting that many dogs take some time to warm up to new people, too — and that's just fine!)

Be Prepared to Make Time for a Lifetime

Some people might see cats as "easier" pets to have than dogs. And though some cats can be more independent than your typical pooch, this isn't an assumption you should make. Owning a cat is a serious commitment, even if you don't have to take her out for walks. And remember, many cats can live a long time!

"Ask yourself one question: Am I ready to give my time, my money and my commitment to love and care for this pet for as long as it lives?" Susan Holt Stanley says.

Keep in mind that the amount of care needed can vary from feline to feline. "[B]e prepared to care for them when they are sick," Cat Jeffers-Goodwine says. "I have a diabetic cat that I have been treating for 10 years. He is now 16. Are you willing to make that kind of commitment?" 

Nora Coombs echoes this, saying, "I first warn them of the expense of a pet. They need food and vet care, and that can be more than some people can afford. I also tell them it is a lifetime commitment, not 'til they get bored with the pet."

Be honest about the kind of time you're willing to give your new cat on a daily basis. "When you come home from work or school... or wherever you've been, always say hello and pet your cat. Kitty has waited all day for you and misses you, so don't ignore it when you walk in the door," Marilyn Rundle says. "[It] only takes 10 minutes or so to give scritches and kisses."

And if you're not ready for the responsibility just yet, "[D]o not get one," Aimee Sirisky says (along with many other commenters).

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