woman hugging and kissing her cat after adopting cat
(Photo Credit: Hugo Alejandro Salazar S / Getty Images)

How to Prepare for Adopting Your First Cat

So you’ve made the decision to adopt and bring your first cat into your home. That’s great! Of course, when you bring a cat into your household, you can expect a few things will change — both for your cat’s safety and for their comfort.

Most of us have heard the comment, “You shouldn’t have to change your lifestyle for a companion animal.” But how could that be? Bringing home a cat is not like adding a new throw pillow to the sofa. This is a living being with needs and desires — of course this requires change!

New cat parents should prepare themselves for these changes and give serious thought to whether they are ready. Conveniences, or even luxuries, previously taken for granted can no longer be overlooked.

People who adopt their first cat will find themselves thinking about things differently than ever before. For example, kitchen counters are now dangerous ledges, tables are invitations to knock things over, and screen doors become climbing gyms.

Here are a few ways you should prepare when you bring home your first cat.

Getting Your Home Ready for Adopting Cats

New cat parents should get down on the floor and look around the rooms of the home from a cat’s perspective for hidden dangers. This is crucial because a curious kitty will always be looking for something new to get into — it’s their job. It’s your job to help protect them.

Here are a few home preparations and changes you should make before your kitty arrives:

  • Don’t leave string, rubber bands, or paper clips on a desk or countertop; your cat could easily ingest such items and suffer blocked intestines or tummy upset.
  • Always make sure to close doors to the outside, especially screen doors that are easily overlooked in the summer.
  • Keep the trash cans secure and out of the way. Curious cats like to investigate interesting smells and scraps, and those can be toxic or choking hazards.
  • Rethink your holiday festivities and decorations.
  • Avoid keeping plants in the house that are dangerous for cats. These include lilies, azaleas, and daffodils, among many others.

You may also find yourself making some home décor decisions that you never would have before the cat arrived, like:

  • Adding scratching posts and cat beds.
  • Scattering cat toys everywhere (with your cat’s help, of course).
  • Putting an extra sheet or blanket on your bed to keep the cat fur off your sheets.

And don’t forget: litter boxes need to be accessible. Scoop the litter several times a day.

Adapting Your Life for Cats

You’ll be sharing your home with your cat, so obviously you need to make changes to your dwelling. But remember that you’ll also be sharing your life with your cat, so it follows that your life will need to change in some ways, too.

Once in a while, your cat will need to go to the veterinarian for a physical or shots, which should provide for a fun car ride full of high-volume meowing in the most accusatory manner. You’ll also find yourself speaking in baby talk or sharing your innermost thoughts with your cat.

Once a cat gets older or becomes ill, you may need to make further accommodations. It’s not unusual to have to clean up after a sick cat who vomits or does their business outside the box.

Getting a cat to take a pill — not to mention an inhaler! — provides another new experience. Some people face even greater challenges with sick or disabled cats and gladly go the extra mile for their feline friend.

All that said, most cat people would agree: after a while, you don’t even notice the adaptations you make for your feline friend. It’s just part of life and what you do for love.

Did you change your home or your life before adopting your first cat? What other changes should new cat parents expect? Let us know in the comments below!

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