Speaking of Pets: Here’s what to do when you get a new cat | VailDaily.com

Speaking of Pets: Here’s what to do when you get a new cat

Joan Merriam
Speaking of Pets
Felines are known for being more independent than dogs, but they still need the same emotional connection to their owners.
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They say there are dog people, and then there are cat people — and never the twain shall meet. I happen to be both: I grew up with both cats and dogs and adore them both equally. And none of them ever fought “like cats and dogs.”

If you’ve decided to bring a feline into your own life, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Cat Essentials

Before you bring your new cat home, make sure you’re ready with food and water bowls, litter box and litter (I recommend clumping litter for its ease of cleanup), toys, a sturdy scratching post and, of course, high-quality food.

Veterinary Visit

As soon as possible, take your new cat into your veterinarian for a thorough checkup and immunizations. This allows you to spot any potential problems or health issues before they become major complications. Also, make sure you spay or neuter your cat early; the ASPCA says kittens can have the procedure as young as 8 weeks.

Grooming

If you’re bringing home a kitten, start a grooming routine right away. This can be a challenge with older cats, but it’s not insurmountable. Once your cat becomes accustomed to bathing, brushing, and claw-trimming, these events will be much easier for you — and will result in a lot fewer claw marks on your arms.

A Part of the Family

If you have small children, teach them about the nature of a cat and how to interact with it safely. Cats tend to be far less forgiving than dogs of such things as tail-pulling and general rambunctiousness.

A Lifetime Commitment

Because cats tend to be independent by nature, people often assume they can take pretty much take care of themselves. But cats become very bonded to their human caretakers, and emotional attachment is crucial to their well-being.

Just as with any animal, having a cat is a major commitment, one that can easily last 15 years or more. Look carefully at your lifestyle and make sure that you’re willing to devote yourself to caring for your kitty for his or her entire lifetime.

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever, Joey, and Maine coon cat, Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at joan@joanmerriam.com.