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39 Things You Should Know Before Getting A Cat

Prepare for your new best friend!

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1. If you're looking for a new buddy, consider adopting from your local shelter or search on Petfinder.

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There are TONS of kittens, adult cats, and senior cats that are looking for forever homes — so you're sure to find your perfect match!

2. The average lifespan of a cat is 13 to 17 years, but a lot of cats have been known to live over 20.

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Remember that bringing a kitty home is a lifelong commitment.

3. Do not declaw your cat.

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This surgery involves amputating the end of your cat's toes, and it is extremely painful. There are alternative ways to monitor your cat's scratching, like providing different scratching surfaces and clipping his nails responsibly.

4. Cat overpopulation is a huge problem so it's extremely important to ALWAYS spay and neuter your kitties.

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Cats can breed as often as three times a year, so this is absolutely vital. Spaying and neutering also ensures that your cat will live a longer and healthier life. Females who have not been spayed are prone to breast cancer and pyometra, a uterus infection.

5. Get everything on your supply list before you even bring your cat home.

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This includes: food dish, water bowl, toys, brush, nail clipper, comb, collar, ID tag, litter box, litter, cat carrier, and a warm, cozy bed for your kitty to sleep in.

6. When cats scratch they actually shed their outer nail to reveal the fresh claw underneath, so they need to scratch to keep those paws healthy.

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Cute tabby kitten sat on the breakfast table looking up

7. So make sure you get a scratching post that's at least three feet high!

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The post should be made of sturdy material like burlap or tree bark. Be sure to sprinkle it with catnip "once or twice a month" to keep your bud interested in it.

8. Cut your cat's nails every two to three weeks so they stay somewhat blunt and therefore cannot damage you or your furniture.

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Cute cat portrait.

9. Take your time when introducing your cat to your new home.

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It can take "seven to fourteen days" for your cat to get used to a new environment. Let your kitty meet each member of the family one at a time, so she doesn't get overwhelmed.

10. Designate a quiet, special room just for your cat.

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This should be a space that children and other pets don't frequent often, and here your cat can scratch, relax, and have some ~me~ time.

11. If you have other pets, make sure you introduce your new kitty gradually.

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Leave her in her special room for a few days, and your other pets should always meet your cat on "her" new territory.

12. All indoor cats need a litter box.

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Keep your kitty's litter box in a quiet, but accessible area. Try not to move it, and if you have to, do it very slowly over the course of a few days. In a multi-level home, a litter box is recommended for every floor. There are even some creative DIY solutions for hiding them in your home.

13. Remember that cats won't use a messy litter box.

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Be sure to keep it tidy every day and fully disinfect it once a week! You can do this less frequently if you are using clumping litter. Never use ammonia, deodorant, or any kind of scent, especially lemon when you clean the litter box.

14. Establish a routine early on.

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Give him the same brand of litter and feed at the same time each day, so there's a reliable structure for your kitty.

15. Keep your feeding scheduling consistent every single day.

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You can either feed specific meals with wet food, discarding any leftovers after 30 minutes, or you can keep dry food available at all times.

16. There are many house plants that could be toxic to your cat.

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Be sure to rehome any houseplants that might be toxic to her before you bring your kitty home. Refer to this list of harmful plants when cat-proofing your home.

17. Grapes, raisins, avocado, yeast dough, and raw meat are all harmful to your cat.

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Refer to the full list of foods to keep away from your kitty so you know how to keep your new buddy safe, happy, and healthy!

18. Milk will actually upset your cat's stomach because most cats are lactose intolerant.

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View from above of two tabby cats drinking from a saucer together

19. Cats are relatively clean but if you brush and comb your cat frequently, it will reduce the amount of hairball incidents you run into.

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Man Brushing With Comb Anti Fleas The Domestic Cat

20. Meows are hardly heard between two cats — so pay attention when your kitty is meowing, because he's talking to YOU.

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21. To clean your cat's ear, place a bit of ear cleaner recommended by your vet on a cotton ball and "gently wipe away any earwax or debris."

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NEVER clean the ear canal because it could cause infection or trauma for your cat.

22. Brushing your cat's teeth can be a difficult task, but it should be done as often as possible.

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It's important to keep those pearly whites clean to prevent gingivitis and other diseases. Get a pet-friendly brand of toothpaste and NEVER use human toothpaste on your kitty.

23. The pads on your cat's feet are highly sensitive.

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Protect those paws, especially in extremely cold and hot weather.

24. Keep your cat's eyes clean by taking a damp cotton ball and wiping away any debris or gunk around his eye.

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Always wipe AWAY from the corner of the eye.

25. Water is the most important nutrient for your cat so make sure your little buddy has access to it at all times!

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In addition, your kitty also needs proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, so make sure you pick a high-quality brand of cat food!

26. Letting your cat outside is NOT recommended unless you have a harness and lead.

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Letting a cat venture out on his own is dangerous: He could get lost, hit by a car, get into fights with other animals, or contract a disease or parasite. Should you decide to let your buddy have outdoor adventures make sure he wears a safety collar that can break away if it gets stuck on anything.

27. Check your cat for fleas and ticks weekly, and talk to your veterinarian about the best flea and tick control for your cat.

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Beautiful blue persian kitten playing and looking at camera

28. Check with your veterinarian about the necessary vaccinations as well.

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You should visit your vet within the first week of bringing your cat home, and then for yearly check-ups to make sure your buddy is healthy and living her best life!

29. Be aware of Feline Urological Syndrome.

Both female and male cats are capable of developing "lower urinary inflammation." Symptoms include frequent litter box trips, pain or difficulty urinating, and sometimes blood in the urine. Keep an eye on your kitty!

30. Trick: If you have a kitten and he doesn't want to eat, try "soaking his kitten food in warm water."

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31. Consider microchipping your cat, so you'll never risk the chance of losing your best buddy.

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cat giving you a disdainful look

32. Cats love to play predator and pretend to stalk prey, so get lots of toys to keep your kitty happy!

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Brown kitten with blue eyes playing with feather toy.

33. Since cats come with built-in grooming supplies, they don't often need baths.

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But in case your cutie gets into something real dirty, be sure to trim her nails right before you bathe her. Use lukewarm water and bathe her gently, preferably with a hand-held spray hose and cat shampoo. Human shampoo will dry out your cat's skin.

34. According to the ASPCA, average yearly cat care costs about $600.

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Keep some money saved up in case of emergency, though, because vet costs can get extremely expensive.

35. Consider insuring your cat so you're covered in case an emergency DOES happen.

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36. Make sure ALL of your windows have screens!

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Windows without screens pose a great threat to your cat when they're open, and falls can result in a shattered jaw, punctured lungs, broken bones, or worse.

37. Keep the Pet Poison Control hotline in your contacts.

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They are available 24 hours a day in case of an emergency and will guide you through the necessary steps to keep your pet safe. They can be reached at 888-426-4435.

38. Find the closest 24-hour emergency vet in your area and keep their information handy.

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Searching the internet at midnight isn't helpful when your pet needs emergency care.

39. Most of all, be patient and give lots of love to your new kitty! It may take her a little while to get used to her new environment, but you're in store for A LOT of love.

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