10 Things to Know Before Adopting a Cat

Pets are great, right? They can be cuddly little companions and fuzzy best friends. But they're also completely dependent on you for everything, and having a pet comes with a whole new set of responsibilities. As far as pets go, cats are definitely some of the most low-maintenance and self-reliant. They're smart, and as long as you show them where their food, water and litter box is, they're usually pretty good.

In fact, they're often seen as so low-maintenance that people don't realize how much work can go into caring for them. But trust me, it takes some time and effort. So here are a few tips, from a semi-seasoned cat mom.

You'll need some equipment first

You should get all the supplies before you even bring your new friend home - cat food, bowls, litter and litter box, collar, cat carrier, toys, brush, etc. It'll be easier on everyone if you have everything set up and ready to get when your new kitty arrives.

Don't declaw them

There is a huge misconception that declawing a cat is harmless, but it's not. When a cat is declawed, it's not just removing the nails, it's removing the tips of their bone, which is incredibly painful and can have lasting consequences for your kitty. Instead, control their scratching by providing scratching posts, clipping their nails, or getting claw caps.

Give them an outlet

To further my last point, cats do need to scratch and to get out their energy. To save your furniture and belongings from being destroyed, make sure to give your kitty friend an outlet, like plenty of toys and scratching posts and things to safely climb.

Brush them

My cat Scully has thick long hair that gets tangled and matted really easily, so I have to make sure to brush her often and cut out any clumps of hair, because sometimes she just needs help grooming herself. If your cat has short hair, this is less of an issue, but still something to be aware of.

Sometimes cats are jerks

Sometimes cats will knock over your glass of water or claw your couch or steal all of your hair ties. They're playful, mischievous little devils sometimes, so be warned. Any pet is sometimes going to get on your nerves or do things that are annoying or destructive, so just keep that in mind.

Get them fixed

Cat overpopulation is a serious issue, so listen to Bob Barker and spay and neuter your pets, please. Especially, ESPECIALLY if your kitty is going to spend any time outdoors. Because next thing you know, you're going to have lots of little kitties roaming around too.

Make sure they're up to date with shots

Another thing that's super important if you're going to have an outdoor/indoor cat is to make sure they're up on shots and medications for rabies, heartworm, fleas and ticks, etc. This is important even if your cat will always be inside, but especially so if they spend any time outside.

Give them space to explore

When you first introduce your cat to their new home, they're going to be freaked out. They're going to explore all over and find the little nooks and crannied and disappear for a while. Give them space to get used to their new surroundings and everything will be fine. Trust me, there will be a point where you haven't seen your kitten in like three hours and you start getting really freaked out and tear your entire house apart, wondering if she got outside somehow, only to see her saunter out of your clothes hamper looking very pleased with herself. Not that I know from experience, or anything...

Be careful of house plants

A surprisingly large number of flowers and house plants can be poisonous to cats, so make sure to keep them out of their reach or replace them with cat-friendly foliage. The ASPCA has a great list of all the plants that can harm your cat, so double check. And you might want to pick up some "cat grass" at the store, which is just a cute little potted plant that is cat friendly.

Set a routine

Cats are creatures of habit, so set a feeding schedule and daily routine early and try to stick to it. And if your cat is anything like mine, she will not let you forget that it's one minute past her normal dinner time.

How do you make the most of life with your furry friend?