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Common Mistakes Made by New Cat Parents


I’m thrilled when people contact me BEFORE they bring home a new cat. It’s the perfect opportunity for me to help them figure out which cat is right for them, how to cat-proof the home and set up the environment to be cat friendly, prepare them for how to do any introductions to current resident pets, and in general, work with them to make informed decisions. All-too-often though, cat adoptions are impulsive decisions and cat parents aren’t fully prepared for what it means to be a cat parent. Here are some of the common mistakes I see:


1. Getting a Cat Who Isn’t Right For You

cat behavior problems

Photo: istock

Many pet adoptions are done impulsively and as a result, far too many animals get brought back to the shelter. Whether you are adopting or purchasing a cat, make sure she is a good fit for your family and your environment. Think carefully about whether a kitten or adult cat would be better. Think about your home environment, your schedule and whether this is the right time to adopt.

2. Viewing a Cat as Low Maintenance

It breaks my heart whenever I hear people say that they didn’t have the time for a dog so they adopted a cat. All-too-often, people adopt cats and then only interact with them at their convenience. The cat is left to her own devices and then the cat parent is disappointed when the relationship doesn’t seem to grow. If you want to have a relationship you have to be willing to invest in it. Don’t view cats as convenience pets.

3. Not Providing Routine Veterinary Care

Cats are the most popular pet in America but yet more dogs get seen by veterinarians. Cats aren’t being taken for veterinary care the way they should. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because your cat never goes outdoors she doesn’t need yearly health exams. She also needs appropriate vaccinations based on her risk factors. Your cat needs regular veterinary care. Regardless of whether you paid top dollar for a purebred cat or rescued a kitty from the side of the road, every cat needs ongoing veterinary care.

three books by author Pam Johnson-Bennett and a quote from Beth Stern


4. Neglecting to Spay or Neuter Your Cat

Unless you live under a rock you know there are homeless pets everywhere and shelters are overcrowded. Animals are dying on a daily basis because there is no shelter space available. And, if the pet overpopulation issue doesn’t leave an effect on you then I hope this will: an unneutered male WILL urine-mark. A male cat who is ruled by his hormones will definitely follow his instinct to mark his territory. Your furniture will become the victims of male urine. If you think you can avoid that by making him an outdoor cat, you will doom him to being the victim of cat fights or inflicting injury on other cats. He will also continue to mate (contributing to over-population). For a female cat, if left unspayed, she will make every attempt to escape outdoors, vocalize and in general, be a cat on a mission. With both male and female cats, failure to spay or neuter may also increase their chances of certain cancers.

5. Allowing Your Cat to Roam

Whether to allow a cat outdoors at all is a controversial topic. My opinion is cats are safer indoors and you can create a stimulating environment inside that will provide all the entertainment, enrichment and fun a cat needs while keeping her safe. Letting your cat outdoors to roam the neighborhood puts her at risk for disease, injury, fighting, poisoning, abuse, parasites, getting lost, stolen or hit by a car. If you keep your cat indoors, you will also reduce the stress of other indoor cats in the neighborhood who may get upset when they see an unfamiliar cat wandering into their yards.

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