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16 Cat facts to know before you adopt your first feline

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, pets...

Be prepared before adopting your first cat with these tips

Bringing a new cat into your home is exciting, but it can also be a tough adjustment if you're not quite ready.

Do your homework and know what you're getting yourself into before you make the plunge and bring home that new pet.

1. Cats sleep — a lot

I know, you have visions of spending the day chasing balls of yarn around the house with your new kitten, and that might happen — but only in between naps. Cats spend a big part of their day asleep, and you're going to spend a big part of your day watching that happen... and being extremely envious.

2. Cats like to hide

Your new buddy might cuddle up on your lap and purr itself to sleep but probably not right away. It's going to spend quite a few days hiding until it adjusts to its new surroundings.

3. And they're not very social...

It'll probably get used to you... eventually. The rest of the world is a whole other story. Don't expect your cat to be the life of the party because it'll probably hightail it for its best hiding spot whenever strangers enter your front door.

4. Even with other animals

You think your giant dog is totally adorable (and so do we!), but your cat might not see the beauty in the drooling beast. Keep your cat in a space of its own for a few days and slowly introduce it to the rest of the pack.

5. Cats don't always know how to use the litter box

Yes, most cats know how to use a litter box, but they're not born with that knowledge. If you have a small, untrained kitten, a cat that has lived outside or just one that wasn't taken care of properly, doing its business in a box might not be second nature to your feline friend. Be prepared to do some training. Give it a large box in a somewhat private place (because no one wants an audience), and place it in the litter box several times a day until it figures it out. If you're planning on using a lidded litter box, skip the lid until it gets used to the process and then slowly introduce it.

6. And even if they can use a litter box, they won't use one that's dirty

You know when you walk into an unkempt public restroom and think, "Yeah, that's not happening"? Your cat has that same thought when its litter box is ignored. Scoop it daily. That will go a long way toward the life of your carpet.

7. Cats gain weight easily

Wouldn't you if you spent your life eating from an endless bowl of food and taking naps? Ration the meals and encourage yours to be active.

8. But they love to play with toys

Speaking of being active, cats are pretty good at entertaining themselves when necessary, but not many will turn down a new ball, a laser light or a pinch of cat nip. Occasional treats like these will help a cat feel the love and get it moving.

9. Cats don't drink milk

Ignore every cartoon you watched when you were growing up. Trust me. Cats are usually lactose intolerant, meaning one bowl of milk can lead to a very messy afternoon.

10. Cats scratch for a reason

When your cat scratches your furniture things around your house, it's not trying to ruin your day. Cats need to scratch to shed their outer claws and make way for the new ones, so if you want to save your precious belongings, purchase a scratching post, pronto. Make sure it's at least 3 feet tall so it can stretch its front legs because, well, that feels awesome.

11. They need to be brushed

Cats are famous for their self-grooming capabilities, but you should brush them at least once a week to help keep them shiny and clean and to keep those annoying hairballs at bay. Hint: Your cat will be much more cooperative if you use a soft brush.

12. Some houseplants can hurt your pet

Green thumb or not, you may have to ditch some of your potted pretties before you bring home your new bestie. Check this list for the most common poisonous plants and see if you have any that can harm your cat.

13. Cats need to go to the vet

Cats are pretty low-maintenance pets for the most part, but they do need to see a vet to receive vaccinations and be checked for early signs of disease.

14. And cats aren't free

Well, sometimes they are, but once you get a cat home, there are some costs associated with that cute little kitty. According to the ASPCA, the cost of bringing a cat into your home is $1,035 for the first year and $670 for every year after that.

15. They'll be around for a while

Cats should never be brought into a home on a whim. Cats usually live between 10-15 years and sometimes survive to age 20 or older. Adopting a cat is a big commitment and one you should be ready and willing to make for many years.

16. Shelter cats are waiting

If you think you're ready to adopt a cat, why not consider choosing one from your local animal shelter? Six to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year. Of those that are cats, only 37 percent are adopted, while 41 percent are euthanized. Plus, not only will you be saving a cat that will love you forever, it will tend to cost less than purchasing a cat from a pet store and has probably already been vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

More on cats

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12 Undeniable reasons why cats are better than dogs
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