So I'm getting a cat

My boyfriend is buying me a cat from the shelter for our one year anniversary. I love cats (all animals, really) and my family, growing up, had two cats. But they were outside cats and weren't inside much...

This one is going to be purely inside, considering we live in an apartment on the 3rd floor. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on what I should do to prepare for this? I'm kinda nervous, actually....

I know I need to get the basics. Litter box, climbing tower, toys, kitten food, etc. But anything else I should know?

Thanks!

One important thing is to have a small, quiet room set aside for the cat to live in for the first few days while he gets used to being in a new place. You can spend lots of time in his room with him so that he can get acquainted with you, but don't try to force anything--let him decide when he's ready to be pet, play around, sit on your lap, etc.

If he's got his claws then you're going to have to deal with scratching and climbing for awhile. At some point you WILL find little kitty hanging from the curtains, so make sure there's nothing out that you would hate to see claw-marks in. Also make sure you've cat-proofed the apartment. Word of advice you may not see elsewhere: if you've got those metal doorstops that stick out of the wall a few inches and then have a rubber stopper on the end, take the rubber piece off. Trust me on this.

Oh, cats like to chew potted plants, so if you've got any of those where the cat can reach them then you'll need to keep an eye out for that (and make sure they aren't going to make him sick).

And if this is your first indoor cat, then be prepared for what my family calls "Night Crazies"--basically since cats are nocturnal, there will come a point during the night when they are fully awake and charged with energy, which they usually use to bounce around the house like a ping-pong ball on speed. Hilarious to watch, but a bit annoying if you're trying to sleep.

BrassButtons:
One important thing is to have a small, quiet room set aside for the cat to live in for the first few days while he gets used to being in a new place. You can spend lots of time in his room with him so that he can get acquainted with you, but don't try to force anything--let him decide when he's ready to be pet, play around, sit on your lap, etc.

If he's got his claws then you're going to have to deal with scratching and climbing for awhile. At some point you WILL find little kitty hanging from the curtains, so make sure there's nothing out that you would hate to see claw-marks in. Also make sure you've cat-proofed the apartment. Word of advice you may not see elsewhere: if you've got those metal doorstops that stick out of the wall a few inches and then have a rubber stopper on the end, take the rubber piece off. Trust me on this.

Oh, cats like to chew potted plants, so if you've got any of those where the cat can reach them then you'll need to keep an eye out for that (and make sure they aren't going to make him sick).

And if this is your first indoor cat, then be prepared for what my family calls "Night Crazies"--basically since cats are nocturnal, there will come a point during the night when they are fully awake and charged with energy, which they usually use to bounce around the house like a ping-pong ball on speed. Hilarious to watch, but a bit annoying if you're trying to sleep.

Thanks for all the advice!! 1: Our apartment is a one bedroom one, so would you suggest I keep the kitty in the bedroom? Or does it matter if it's that small of a space?

2: We have no curtains! Hurray! But I am worried about the back of our couch... it's pretty open in the back. I don't know how to explain it. It's one claw mark away from the entire back being open. xD I had planned to put a kitty climbing post of some sort there to disuade from scratching. But I don't know.

Other than that, I don't think our apartment needs too much more preparation. Other than needing to be cleaned and what not, of course. xD

The best advice I can give is to get one of those climbing cat posts. I bought one for my cat when he was a kitten. They work really well because the kitten can scratch it, climb on it plus sleep in it too. My cat doesn't use it anymore for sleeping but he still stretches on it and climbs on it. It's saved my curtains quite often. :D

It looks like you have everything else covered. :3

Chasing-The-Light:

Our apartment is a one bedroom one, so would you suggest I keep the kitty in the bedroom? Or does it matter if it's that small of a space?

I'd still say to put him in the room first, and then decide whether or not to let him explore the rest of the apartment based on his reaction. If he seems comfortable in the room then go ahead and let him explore. As long as you keep an eye on whether he's stressing out or not everything should be fine.

2: We have no curtains! Hurray! But I am worried about the back of our couch... it's pretty open in the back. I don't know how to explain it. It's one claw mark away from the entire back being open. xD I had planned to put a kitty climbing post of some sort there to disuade from scratching. But I don't know.

Having climbing posts and things will help, but there's always going to be the chance of the cat climbing the sofa instead. You can try using a spray bottle to teach him not to do that.

Make sure you play with them, indoor cats can get bored as hell and thats when they get in trouble. Remember cats are predators, they live for prey. Get them toys and give them "prey" to play with.

Chasing-The-Light:
My boyfriend is buying me a cat from the shelter for our one year anniversary. I love cats (all animals, really) and my family, growing up, had two cats. But they were outside cats and weren't inside much...

This one is going to be purely inside, considering we live in an apartment on the 3rd floor. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on what I should do to prepare for this? I'm kinda nervous, actually....

I know I need to get the basics. Litter box, climbing tower, toys, kitten food, etc. But anything else I should know?

Thanks!

Hi! Welcome to pet ownership.

Probably the most important things you can do at this stage are...

1. Make sure your kitty has a proper diet. You can talk with your vet about this and see what (s)he recommends, or do some research online (http://www.catinfo.org/ is a good source). Whatever you do, do NOT feed them Fancy Feast, or Meow Mix, or any of the supermarket/corner store brands. That's like feeding your infant child McDonalds for every meal, it WILL make them sick. Proper cat food, whether canned or a raw food diet you prepare yourself, is a little more expensive...but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your cat will live longer, stay healthy longer, cost you less down the road in vet bills, and just generally be a happier animal.

2. Budget a small amount of money every month for cat health, and put it aside. Use part of it for yearly vet visits (if the cat is young), or twice-yearly vet visits (if the cat is elderly). Much like proper nutrition can go a long way towards a healthy and long lived pet, so too can early detection of health problems (not to mention saving you a lot of money in vet bills if you catch things in their infancy rather than letting them spiral into an emergency). You will save yourself a lot of money and stress, and your pet a lot of suffering, if you make regular checkups a priority for your cat.

3. Also be willing to put some money aside for emergencies. No matter how well you care for your cat, one day he/she is going to get old, and with age often comes illness. 90% of the cost of owning a pet will come during the final months of its life, and if you are unprepared for the cost it can be extremely stressful and financially devastating.

4. Be aware that very young cats, while not as destructive as young dogs or rabbits, can still do a lot of damage if left unattended, particularly to cords. You might want to block off nests of cords near computers or televisions so that kitty does not gnaw them. The risk to the cat is low, but they can cause a lot of pricey damage in short order.

5. Young cats will have a lot of energy, but fortunately they're pretty good at entertaining themselves. Cheap toys like boxes, feathers or laser pointers will give just as much pleasure as more expensive store bought items.

6. Don't be afraid to discipline your cat. They don't take to discipline naturally like dogs will, but unlike rabbits they CAN be disciplined. If you never discipline your cat they'll eventually come to think of themselves as king shit, and then they'll be impossible to deal with. Don't strike or physically punish them (a light swat on the rump at worst), but loud voices and spray bottles usually work fine when your cat is behaving badly.

7. Don't let the cat out, especially if you live in a city. The cat may want to go out. Keep the cat in.

I hope your cat brings you a lot of joy. Pet ownership can be tiring, and stressful, and expensive, but it is also tremendously rewarding. I've had many, many pets over the years, including several cats, and I've never regretted it once. If you're good about nutrition and having your cat regularly checked up, you should be able to count on at least 15 years of companionship, and possibly 20+ if the kitty has good genetics.

PS - Please do take the advice about food and regular vet checkups seriously. I know it's costly, and lord knows we all do whatever we can to avoid unnecessary expenses, but BELIEVE ME when I say you can either pay now, or pay much, much more down the road. That 60 cents to a dollar you're saving on cheaper canned food is going to translate into a multi-thousand dollar vet bill in the future.

BloatedGuppy:
5. Young cats will have a lot of energy, but fortunately they're pretty good at entertaining themselves. Cheap toys like boxes, feathers or laser pointers will give just as much pleasure as more expensive store bought items.

Beat me to it, I was going to say a laser pointer. My cat is 11 years old and she still loves those things.

Only thing I could say about getting a cat that hasn't been said already is do -not- get it declawed.

Thanks for all the sound advice, guys! I really appreciate it! Most things I'd already taken into consideration, like the water spray bottle and climbing posts, etc. But other things I hadn't thought of, like trying to find a way to block off cords from them so they don't get at them.

Also, I do not plan on having my cat declawed! I don't believe in declawing at all!

If anyone has any other advice, feel free to tell me =)

I had an issue with our cat spraying in the laundry room. I replaced the laundry room carpet with tile and he stopped. A lot of cats have issues with spraying when they get older so have a plan for that I guess. We ended up getting a puppy two and they enjoy playing together. When the cat gets mad at the dog he pisses in the dogs food dish. Funny the first time.

Chasing-The-Light:
I know I need to get the basics. Litter box, climbing tower, toys, kitten food, etc. But anything else I should know?

Most good things have already been said, especially about the food and declawing (well, not doing that)... but there is more! :)
Make sure that the climbing tree for the cat is, actually, a climbing tree. It infuriates me that what is being sold as 'awesome cheap climbing trees' that are about the height of a fully grown cat at best. Ahem. Anyway, you could go for one that goes up to the ceiling but really one about as high as your shoulders or something is enough. With 2 cats I had three trees (1 in bedroom, 2 in the larger living room with one being right next to my own couch ;) ).
Most cats are into catnip, so you can use this on the trees to reinforce them as an awesome place to be and scratch on.
Think three dimensions. Attaching scrach board to the side of a bookshelf turns it into another (and a lot cheaper) climbing tree. Cats love high places.
Should your cat scratch on anything you do not want her to scratch on, punishment tends to be a really bad idea - the scratching part itself is the cats reward, you are just telling her not to get caught. What I found to work best is the aforementioned catnip on the 'real' scratching places and - in the worst case scenario - put a scratch board and attach it to a place next to the one the cat scratched on... they will prefer the board.

Keep more than one bowl of water around - and neither of the two should be close to where the cat eats. Cats have a huge issue with getting enough fluids (their MO is to get that from their food, which is another reason to stay away from dry Kibble) and 'passing by' drinking water helps encourage them. Desert animals and all that.

Personally I can't confirm the nightterrors. Cats do tend to have their five minutes every now and then where they just run through the room, but mine (had 5 until now, though not all at once ;) ) always slept with me in my bedroom, and, in fact, on the bed. Which will be another thing you have to consider - whether you want that or not. Cats tend to stay close to their humans (they are the ones that do funny and entertaining things, after all... and they are warm, too!) so if you don't want the cat in your bed for some reason then you might want to consider not letting the cat in the bedroom at all... did that with the kitchen, myself. This might take some patience and nerves, however (NEVER let the cat in no matter how long he/she whines) until the cat 'gets' it.

Indoor cats need a bit of entertainment. This can be: another cat, windows (safe windows, obviously, so a net in front of them), a balcony (again, made safe for cats), toys (some constant ones, but always keep the 'best' ones locked away so the cat doesn't loose interest) or 'games'. And, well, of course there is you ;) With games I mean the bought ones, by the way, like stuff where you put some kibble inside a.s.o. (though kibble itself is not awesome, but you can use other stuff).
You yourself can also train your cat which imo is pretty intellectually stimulating for them... They can be simple things like sit, down (from the table/your lap/whathaveyou), *go where I touch* and of course coming to you when you say their name. I sort of trained my own with positive reinforcement (pretty much the way you would train a dog but with shorter training sessions, I think)... Of course cats aren't like dogs, but most still enjoy interacting with their owners and (of course) potentially receiving rewards for their behaviour and figuring things out. Last but not least, the aim of this whole last training bit is intended to counter the whole 'punishment' comment earlier, so sorry for the rambling...

Whee, wall of text!

Hope it helps.

edit: Cats are incredibly clean neat freaks, so if a cat is urinating on something other than their toilet - and yes, removing soft materials like carpet can keep her from doing that - it means something is wrong. a) the toilet is 'too dirty for the cat' (varies from cat to cat, some don't even like one piece in there but this is rare). b) The cat has a urinary infection and because it hurts to pee the cat gravitates towards softer materials. c) The cat is incredibly stressed for some reason and shows it this way.

edit2: Feel free to pm me with questions if what I said goes into a direction you like and you have more questions.

psyco:

Chasing-The-Light:
I know I need to get the basics. Litter box, climbing tower, toys, kitten food, etc. But anything else I should know?

Most good things have already been said, especially about the food and declawing (well, not doing that)... but there is more! :)
Make sure that the climbing tree for the cat is, actually, a climbing tree. It infuriates me that what is being sold as 'awesome cheap climbing trees' that are about the height of a fully grown cat at best. Ahem. Anyway, you could go for one that goes up to the ceiling but really one about as high as your shoulders or something is enough. With 2 cats I had three trees (1 in bedroom, 2 in the larger living room with one being right next to my own couch ;) ).
Most cats are into catnip, so you can use this on the trees to reinforce them as an awesome place to be and scratch on.
Think three dimensions. Attaching scrach board to the side of a bookshelf turns it into another (and a lot cheaper) climbing tree. Cats love high places.
Should your cat scratch on anything you do not want her to scratch on, punishment tends to be a really bad idea - the scratching part itself is the cats reward, you are just telling her not to get caught. What I found to work best is the aforementioned catnip on the 'real' scratching places and - in the worst case scenario - put a scratch board and attach it to a place next to the one the cat scratched on... they will prefer the board.

Keep more than one bowl of water around - and neither of the two should be close to where the cat eats. Cats have a huge issue with getting enough fluids (their MO is to get that from their food, which is another reason to stay away from dry Kibble) and 'passing by' drinking water helps encourage them. Desert animals and all that.

Personally I can't confirm the nightterrors. Cats do tend to have their five minutes every now and then where they just run through the room, but mine (had 5 until now, though not all at once ;) ) always slept with me in my bedroom, and, in fact, on the bed. Which will be another thing you have to consider - whether you want that or not. Cats tend to stay close to their humans (they are the ones that do funny and entertaining things, after all... and they are warm, too!) so if you don't want the cat in your bed for some reason then you might want to consider not letting the cat in the bedroom at all... did that with the kitchen, myself. This might take some patience and nerves, however (NEVER let the cat in no matter how long he/she whines) until the cat 'gets' it.

Indoor cats need a bit of entertainment. This can be: another cat, windows (safe windows, obviously, so a net in front of them), a balcony (again, made safe for cats), toys (some constant ones, but always keep the 'best' ones locked away so the cat doesn't loose interest) or 'games'. And, well, of course there is you ;) With games I mean the bought ones, by the way, like stuff where you put some kibble inside a.s.o. (though kibble itself is not awesome, but you can use other stuff).
You yourself can also train your cat which imo is pretty intellectually stimulating for them... They can be simple things like sit, down (from the table/your lap/whathaveyou), *go where I touch* and of course coming to you when you say their name. I sort of trained my own with positive reinforcement (pretty much the way you would train a dog but with shorter training sessions, I think)... Of course cats aren't like dogs, but most still enjoy interacting with their owners and (of course) potentially receiving rewards for their behaviour and figuring things out. Last but not least, the aim of this whole last training bit is intended to counter the whole 'punishment' comment earlier, so sorry for the rambling...

Whee, wall of text!

Hope it helps.

edit: Cats are incredibly clean neat freaks, so if a cat is urinating on something other than their toilet - and yes, removing soft materials like carpet can keep her from doing that - it means something is wrong. a) the toilet is 'too dirty for the cat' (varies from cat to cat, some don't even like one piece in there but this is rare). b) The cat has a urinary infection and because it hurts to pee the cat gravitates towards softer materials. c) The cat is incredibly stressed for some reason and shows it this way.

edit2: Feel free to pm me with questions if what I said goes into a direction you like and you have more questions.

Hope you don't mind me just replying to you via quoting you here! ^^; Anyway... I really appreciate your "wall of text" xD It was very helpful! And I probably will, at some point PM you about what you think I should do in certain situations. Because I don't think all of that will sink in until we actually get the cat.

One of my main questions was you said about keeping the cat interested, I should provide a 'safe' window/balcony. Our apartment has a railed balcony, the railing of which is also lined with chicken wire. Do you think it'd be safe to let the cat out there? I mean, being on the third floor I doubt the cat will try to push it and get out from there or anything. xD But yeah.

I'd planned on getting a tall cat tree. Like I said in one of my earlier posts I'm worried about our couch (particularly the back of it) getting clawed up. So I'd planned on getting a cat tree that was taller than the couch to put behind it, that way kitty can be up there, around us, and be up high and what not. Do you think that would work???

Hopefully we don't get too much issue, though, with kitty peeing on soft material. We can't exactly take up our carpet, here. =/

What would you suggest getting for 'scratching board'? Sorry if I'm just a little dumb on this xD;;; I mean, do they make stuff like that specifically? Or it it an everyday sorta thing that I can get?

Think that's all of my questions for right now! But who knows. xD;

No worries, this works perfectly as long as you quote me and I get the notification ;) Note that for product links I will be using zooplus for ease of use but please do not hesitate to do your own research when it comes to pricing, quality and whatnot (their trees for example, suck).

Chasing-The-Light:
Our apartment has a railed balcony, the railing of which is also lined with chicken wire. Do you think it'd be safe to let the cat out there? I mean, being on the third floor I doubt the cat will try to push it and get out from there or anything. xD But yeah.

Unfortunately, cats do push it, and they do make mistakes/misjudge things when it comes to jumping or climbing. It only takes one bird landing on the railing, really. Also, it is incredible how high cats can jump/wallrun ... if its higher than a human, it -might- be save but I doubt the railing of a balcony would be that high ;) If you want to make the balcony safe, you will need a net (talk to your landlord/lady beforehand, some have... odd issues with the appearance of the house and all that). Worst case scenario, tell them that its to protect the balcony from doves and other birds as the same type of net is used for that purpose as well. They come in black or white (black usually being almost invisible from afar in my experience) and the holes just have to be small enough so a cat head doesn't fit through (cat's head is all it takes...). Also, kitten heads are smaller than cat heads :)
This would be an example: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/cats/cat_flaps_nets/cat_nets/cat_nets/229149

I'd planned on getting a tall cat tree. Like I said in one of my earlier posts I'm worried about our couch (particularly the back of it) getting clawed up. So I'd planned on getting a cat tree that was taller than the couch to put behind it, that way kitty can be up there, around us, and be up high and what not. Do you think that would work???

Placing trees in areas where you yourself spend a lot of time is a great idea - I kept the two in the living room next to the couch and my desk/computer, respectively, and it worked great. Never had scratching issues with any of my cats. It may sound silly, but you can pick up the cat (1 hand under belly for support, yadda yadda I think you know this :) ), take her over to a tree and move her front paws over the scratching material once or twice. Its a common tip, but again, I never had to use it. As long as there are more attractive scratching opportunities around, cats will prefer those to, say, your couch. Its that simple.
In short: Your idea sounds great :)

Hopefully we don't get too much issue, though, with kitty peeing on soft material. We can't exactly take up our carpet, here. =/

To sound cheesy: I feel you. Only one of the cats I had in my lifetime (so far) has ever had an issue with that and with her it was a health issue rather than something that could or should be trained out of her.
What I have done with every cat (and what might seem very silly, again) is that the first place they see in the apartment was the cat toilet. Just put them in there, they will take a quick look and then jump out and do their tour/exploring. Again, might seem silly but also a common tip just to be on the safe side.
The usual number of cat toilets is 1 per cat +1, by the way. Some (rare) cats have issues with certain toilets as well... Like, f.e., some always pee right at the border so some can, ahem, go outside of the toilet. Easy fix is to then get a closed off litter box instead of an open one (though open ones usually should be preferred because of the air flow). Don't get one with a 'door' though or the cat is going to loathe this small, confined, incredibly smelly place.
I used something similar to these ones: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/cats/cat_litter_litter_boxes/hooded_litter_box/litter_boxes_filter/155931
because you could take the upper part off or keep it. Saves money.

What would you suggest getting for 'scratching board'? Sorry if I'm just a little dumb on this xD;;; I mean, do they make stuff like that specifically? Or it it an everyday sorta thing that I can get?

Board, mat... Ahem. Let me give you an example: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/cats/scratching_posts/scratching_pads/scratching_mats/13164
Thats the one I attached to my bookshelf ;) Again, zooplus isn't the best place for everything and you will likely find larger mats or whathaveyou elsewhere.

And something I forgot but that just occurred to me, looking at zooplus again... You will (obviously) need a cat carrier. Obviously don't get one with silly cups inside or whatnot, but it should be big enough to be comfortable, maybe even fit something soft (and washable) inside to cover the ground. But thats not the point. The point is to always keep your transport-thingie of choice open and in the room. Make it a good place, maybe put a treat inside it every now and then. If the cat doesn't associate the thing with omghorrorpeopleneedlesdogsnoisecars! it makes things infinitely easier (getting her inside, especially). At some point, most of my cats started sleeping in that thing every now and then :)

Thats it for now I think *grins*

captcha: blah blah blah - really, its that bad? o.o

edit: Gah! Ahem. Buying a cat tree, make sure the supporting posts/pillars are, well, support-y and not like 10 inches thick. A cat jumping on something has some impact and if the tree falls even once or shakes like its trying to fake an earthquake the cat is not going to love it. Well, who would... but yeah, done now! For now! *coughs*

 

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