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10 Things you should know before bringing a cat home

Victoria is a regular contributor to PetMD, the largest global source of pet health information. PetMD's content is created by veterinary professionals and covers 9 different species.

Top tips for cat owners

Cats make great companions. Not only do they look good, they also keep mice away and have built-in motors. That's pretty cool. But there's more to owning a cat than having a cute, soft, purring companion. Before you get one, there are a few things you should think about, and a few things that are just plain good to know.

Woman with Cat

10 tips for cat owners

  • Cats are indeed independent by nature, but they're not quite able to take care of themselves. Before you adopt, make sure that your lifestyle can make room for a feline. How busy you are, and the amount of time you spend at home, will dictate the kind of cat you should get -- very busy people may find it difficult to find the time for a cat that needs a lot of grooming and attention, especially the highly intelligent and active cats. But, there are cats that are ideal for the working lifestyle. Do your research.
  • What if your circumstances change after the adoption? Or if you work long hours and still want a friendly face to greet you at the door at the end of the day? Adopting a buddy for the cat to play with can be an excellent solution.
  • Do you have cat allergies? If you do suffer from severe allergic reactions, consider testing yourself for feline allergies before bringing a cat home. Then again, some people with allergies might adapt to their own pet, but still be allergic to other cats. A safe bet is to choose a cat with low allergens. Consult your vet, books, or animal shelter employees for suggestions.
  • Before you bring your cat home, take it for a checkup and immunizations. Also, schedule it in to be neutered as soon as age permits. This can mean the difference between a healthy and happy cat, and a miserable cat trying to claw its way through the windows or spraying your furniture.
  • Get a good litter box and quality litter. Covered boxes can allow you and your cat more privacy, and clumping litter is easier to maintain. Keep the box clean, for the comfort of your cat and your nose. Also, make sure you buy well-balanced, age appropriate food for your cat. Ask your vet and the representatives at your local pet store for advice.
  • Catnip, and those little freeze-dried chicken nuggets are excellent tools for cat bribery and training.
  • Get pet insurance. We hope you won't need it, but as our elders always say, "It's better to be safe than sorry."
  • If it's a kitten you're bringing home, make sure you start a grooming routine early. Bathing, brushing, and trimming claws will be an event to look forward to, rather than something to dread.

And there you have it. These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when you get yourself a new companion. Another important consideration: Cats often live for around 20 years, so you and your furry feline friend will be together for a long time.

For more pet health information, visit PetMD.com; and don't forget to visit PetMD's new Topic Centers.

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