The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your First Cat

Cat parenting comes with responsibilities. Like human babies, kittens need to be fed, nurtured, and kept safe.

The decision to bring a cat into your life should not be taken lightly. They are living creatures that require time, effort, and money.

Before you adopt or purchase a cat, there are some things you need to do to prepare your home. Creating a space for your cat is essential whether you have an apartment or a house.

Taking all these into consideration can be overwhelming. Luckily, this ultimate guide to keeping your first cat provides all the information you need to be a responsible feline parent. We go through the essential supplies, how to create a space for your cat, what to feed them, and more.

Factors to Consider Before Bringing a Cat Home

ultimate guide to keeping your first cat
woman petting a cat

Most aspiring cat owners don’t know the responsibilities of owning a kitty. Like human babies, they need to be fed, nurtured, and kept safe.

The following are the key factors to consider before adopting or buying a cat.

Are You Ready to Commit?

Cats have a lifespan of around 15 years. This means you’ll be responsible for taking care of your cat for the next decade and a half. Are you prepared to make this cat owner commitment?

Are you ready to exercise the cat every evening? Cats need to be exercised every day for good health. You have to play with them, pet them, and provide them with toys to keep them active.

If you’re a busy person with a hectic lifestyle, a cat may not be the right pet for you. Consider getting a smaller pet that requires less exercise, such as a fish or hamster.

Can You Handle the Financial Responsibilities?

Most cat owners spend a lot of money on their feline friends. You’ll need to factor in the cost of food, litter, vet bills, and more when budgeting for your cat.

Unless you stumble upon a box of kittens, your first cost to own a cat will be the adoption fee. The amount depends on where you’ll be adopting the cat; from a cat shelter or a breeder.

The cost of adopting a cat from a local shelter is $200 on average. The good thing is that the cost covers medical screenings, vaccines, and spaying or neutering before adoption.

The cost of food and cat litter can be around $60 per month. That’s not including the cost of unexpected vet bills.

Cats also require regular vaccinations which adds to the financial responsibility.

The table below breaks down the approximate costs of owning a cat.

ActivityApproximate Cost
Vaccinations$80 (Core vaccinations)
Vet visits$55 per visit
Dental care$70-$400
Food and litter$60
Cat toys$25 (per year)
Furniture protection$120 (per year)
Grooming$50 per visit to the groomer
approximate costs of owning a cat

Do You Have Allergies?

Before bringing home a cat, you should consider whether you’re allergic to them. Cats produce Fel d 1 protein, which is found in their saliva and skin. This protein is the major cat allergen for most people.

Moreover, cats shed their fur and release dander into the air, triggering cat allergies in some people.

People with a history of anaphylactic reactions and severe asthma attacks in relation to cats should not live with cats.

If you’re allergic to cats but still want to adopt one, do the following to minimize the symptoms:

  • Choose a hypoallergenic cat breed like Balinese, Siberian, and Oriental shorthair
  • Groom your cat regularly to remove excess hairs
  • Vacuum often to get rid of cat fur and dander
  • Wash your hands after petting your cat
  • Keep the litter box clean

Consider Other Family Members

Are other family members okay with the idea of you bringing home a cat? If you live with roommates, do they have any allergies or pet preferences?

Think about whether your current living situation is suitable for a cat. Do you live in an apartment complex that doesn’t allow pets? If so, you won’t be able to keep a cat.

Cat Vs. Kitten

Cat with her kittens
cat with kittens

Choosing between an adult cat or kitten is a personal preference. Kittens are small, cute, and require more care than adult cats. On the other hand, adult cats are low maintenance and already litter-trained.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing between a kitten or an adult cat:

  • Do you have the time to potty train a kitten?
  • Do you want a cat that’s already litter-trained?
  • Do you want a less active cat?
  • Do you have other pets at home?
  • Do you have small children at home?

If you settle on adopting an adult cat, ensure he is vaccinated. This will save you extra costs. Adult cats cost less because they have a low demand. Most people adopt kittens.

If you’re at crossroads deciding between a cat and a kitten, shelter attendants can help you. Give them your details, including your work schedule, household, and lifestyle. They will recommend a suitable kitty for you based on their experience. This is why getting a cat from a shelter is easier.

Preparing Your Home to Accommodate a Kitten

Before adopting a new kitty, your home must be friendly to them. Your Lady Clawpatra or Sir Lucifurr will need a place to call their own.

A new kitten needs the following in your home:

  • A litter box: It’s advisable to get a bigger one if you have the space. The rule of thumb is one sandbox per cat plus an additional one. So, if you’re adopting one kitten, get two litter trays.
  • Litter: Get natural, unscented, and dust-free litter. Kittens are small, and their respiratory system is still developing. Moreover, some litters have harmful chemicals that can irritate a kitten’s skin. If your feline friend is less than four months, don’t use clumping cat litter as they might ingest it while grooming themselves.
  • A scratching post: Many cats scratch to sharpen their nails and stretch their muscles. Get a tall scratching material so your kitty can fully extend when they’re having a good scratch sesh.
  • Cat-proof your home: Before adopting, make sure your home is safe for a kitten. Block all the small spaces and openings that a kitten can fit into. Get rid of any poisonous plants, cleaners, medicines, and wires lying around. Kitten-proofing your home is not only for their safety but also to keep your belongings intact. Kittens are curious creatures, and they’ll put anything in their mouths.
  • A cat bed: Your new feline friend needs a comfortable place to sleep. Get a small, warm bed for them to snuggle in. You can also use an old T-shirt or sweater that smells like you.
  • A feeding bowl and water fountain: Stainless steel or ceramic food and water bowls are the best for food and water. They’re durable, easy to clean, and won’t harbor bacteria. A water fountain is also a good idea as some cats prefer running water.
  • Toys: Toys keep cats entertained and help them stay active. Get a variety of toys, including ones that encourage their natural hunting instincts, like toy mice.
  • Climbing Trees: Kittens love to climb hence the need for cat trees or climbing shelves around your home.

Selecting the Right Cat Breed

Cats come in different breeds. According to the International Cat Association, there are 71 cat breeds globally.

Each breed has unique characteristics that you should be aware of. For example, Siamese cats are vocal, while Maine Coon cats have long coats and are mostly silent.

The table below shows the most common cat breeds and their characteristics to help you choose the best:

Cat BreedImageMain Characteristic/s
Domestic shorthair cat-Playful
-Quiet and calm
Persian cat-Quiet
Maine Coon-Curious
Ragdoll cat-Not demanding
-High devotion to the owner
-Highly affectionate
Sphynx cat-Hairless coat
-Craves human attention
common cat breeds

As the cat owner, consider which characteristics are a dealbreaker for you and which ones you can live with. For example, if you work long hours, getting a talkative Siamese cat might not be the best idea because she will be bored.

Search for a Good Cat Breeder

Breeding and queening cats are essential for their growth and health. A good breeder will take care of their cats and ensure good health. Buying a well-bred kitten will save you extra costs in the long term as the cat will be in good health.

Consider the following factors when searching for a cat breeder:

The Kitten’s Health

A kitten’s health is a good indication of the breeder’s quality. A good breeder will have healthy kittens that have been vet-checked, vaccinated, treated for internal and external parasites, microchipped, and dewormed.

Check to ensure that the Kitten received the three core cat vaccines:

  • Feline herpesvirus (FHV)
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV)
  • Feline panleukopenia (FPV)

The kitten’s parents must be tested for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). For every test, the breeder must provide the results.

The Pedigree of Proof

A good breeder must produce a certificate of the kitten’s pedigree and registration. The certificate should show the names of the kitten’s parents and grandparents, their colors, patterns, and origins.

A reliable cat pedigree must be issued by a reputable cat pedigree registry like Fifé, WCF, LOOF, and TICA. Getting such a reputable pedigree means that the cattery is registered, and the breeder is serious about their work.

Without the pedigree, you’ll not have proof that your cat belongs to a breed.

The Cattery’s Environment

When you visit the cattery, it should be clean, spacious, and have enough room for the cats to roam around. The cats should also have access to plenty of fresh water and food.

Check if the cattery has separate rooms for sick kittens as this shows that the breeder is taking care of their cats.

If you want to adopt an adult cat, visit the cattery at different times of the day to see how they interact with the staff and other cats. This will give you a good idea of their temperament.

Genetic Test Results

Good breeders will test their cats for genetic diseases that are common in their breeds. For example, Maine Coon cats are tested for hip dysplasia, while Ragdoll cats are checked for heart disease. The results of these tests should be available to you.

There are different cat genetic diseases by breed. You must ascertain that the kitten you want to adopt is not predisposed to any of these diseases.

The Breeder’s Attitude

A good breeder should be passionate about their work and be able to answer all your questions. They should allow you to spend time with the kitten before making a decision.

Avoid breeders who seem uninterested in you or are unwilling to answer your questions. Also, avoid those who pressure you into buying a kitten without giving you time to think about it.

If you feel that your questions have not been fully answered, walk away and try a different breeder. You don’t want to get a poorly-bred kitten, and you don’t want to support an irresponsible breeder.


If the price is too high or too low compared to other cat breeders, be suspicious. A good breeder will charge a reasonable fee that covers the costs of breeding, raising, and health tests.

Avoid breeders who seem more interested in making a profit than in the welfare of their cats.

Adopting a Kitten From a Shelter


If you’re not set on a particular breed, you can always adopt a kitten from a shelter. The benefits of getting a cat from a cat shelter include:

  • You’ll be giving a home to a kitten who needs it.
  • Shelters have kittens of all shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities, so you’re sure to find one that you’ll love.
  • Shelters usually have a lower adoption fee than breeders.

When adopting from a shelter, be sure to:

  • Visit the shelter and meet the kitten before taking them home. This will allow you to see if they’re a good fit for your family.
  • Ask about the kitten’s health history and if they’ve been spayed or neutered.
  • Get the kitten’s vaccination records.
  • Be prepared to pay an adoption fee. This fee helps cover the cost of care for the kitten while they were at the shelter.

Bringing the Kitten Home for the First Time

Bringing a new kitten home is an exciting moment. However, it’s a challenging moment for the kitten as she leaves her usual cat home and is introduced to a new environment.

You’ll need a sturdy and well-ventilated cat carrier to transport your new kitten home.

Put a soft towel or blanket from their home in the carrier. This will make the cat comfortable by smelling a familiar scent.

Secure the carrier with a seat belt if you’re using a car.

Safe Practices for Transporting a Kitten Home in a Car

  • Ask the breeder or shelter attendants to limit food for three hours before the journey. This prevents the kitten from vomiting or toileting on the way.
  • Pack a travel sandbox and some of the kitten’s food and water.
  • Make sure you have everything you need for the kitten before leaving. This includes a collar and ID tag.
  • Secure the cat carrier with a seat belt
  • Ensure the car temperature is comfortable. It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold.
  • Drive smoothly with little noise
  • Drive home directly to get the kitten settled.

Getting a Kitten Used to a New Home

Once home, it’s time to introduce your kitten to her new surroundings.

Start by confining the kitten to one room. This will help her feel safe and not overwhelmed. Allow the kitten to explore her new room, toys, and surroundings. This will allow her to test some new sniff.

Limit the cat to a few rooms to prevent them from getting overwhelmed. As time goes by and the cat becomes confident, start introducing her to the other rooms.

Introduce the Cat to Children and Other Family Members

Once the cat is confident with you, start introducing her to other members of your family, such as children.

Do this gradually and always supervise the interactions.

Be sure that everyone in the family knows how to handle a kitten properly. They should know how to pick her up and hold her correctly.

The introduction should be in line with the kitten’s pace. If she’s shy, don’t introduce her to many people; take time to ensure she is comfortable with the people introduced to.

Due to excitement, children will be all over the cat. Talk to them to be gentle and calm. Kittens also love sleeping, therefore, create a space where the cat can have some peace.

As the cat becomes more comfortable, she will enjoy the playfulness of being around children, and the family will create long-lasting memories.

A Gradual Introduction to the Outside World

Cats love spending time outdoors, but it’s essential to introduce them gradually to the great outdoors.

Start by letting the kitten explore your backyard or porch. Once she’s comfortable with that, you can start taking her on walks around your neighborhood.

Be sure to use a harness and leash when taking the kitten outside. This will help keep her safe.

As the kitten becomes more comfortable with being outdoors, she’ll start to explore further and further. Soon enough, she’ll be an adventurous cat who loves spending time outdoors.

Introducing a Kitten to a Dog

ultimate guide to keeping your first cat
A dog relaxing with a cat

Cats and dogs are often thought of as enemies. However, with a little patience and proper introduction, they will become the best of friends.

It’s essential to introduce the kitten to the dog gradually. Start by letting them see each other from a distance (use a stair gate to separate them). As they get more comfortable with each other, you can start letting them interact under supervision.

Alternatively, take the cat and the dog for a walk. This will provide an opportunity for your pets to swap scents. After this, the pets are likely to be calmers around each other.

Once the initial introduction is complete, provide ongoing supervision. This will ensure that the kitten and dog get along well together.

Kitten Food and Nutrition

Food is the foundation of your cat’s well-being and health. It’s vital to choose high-quality food specifically designed for kittens.

The best way to ensure your kitten gets the nutrients she needs is to feed her a balanced diet. This means choosing a food that contains all the essential nutrients, such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. You must buy cat food that satisfies all her nutritional needs.

Kittens need special food to support their explosive growth and high activity levels. Due to their high energy needs, kittens cannot get enough calories in one meal. You must feed the kitten regularly within the day to maintain her energy needs.

“So most kittens want to eat at least three of four meals a day. It’s also a comforting thing,” says Jennifer Larsen. Luckily, you can get kitten food from any accredited pet store.

Kittens need three times the calories as an adult cat. For this reason, it’s recommended to exclusively feed her kitten food until she is one year old.

Nutritional Requirements for a Growing Kitten

Your kitten needs three essential nutrients; proteins, fat, and calcium.


Kittens have a higher requirement for proteins and amino acids. They should get 30% of their energy from proteins. For excellent growth, kittens need 35-50% of protein on a dry matter. Feed the kitten at least 9% dry matter from an animal source.


Fats are excellent sources of fatty acids and energy. Kittens get most of their energy from fats. However, excessive energy can be detrimental to a cat’s health. Therefore, you should ration the fat content for your cat between 18-35% on a dry matter basis.


Kittens need calcium to support their growing bones and teeth. A lack of calcium can lead to developmental problems and health issues later. Some cat foods high in calcium include:

  • Sardines
  • Chicken livers
  • Egg yolks
  • Cottage cheese

Vitamins and Minerals

Kittens also need vitamins and minerals to support their health. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for kittens include:

  • Vitamin A: supports the immune system, vision, and reproduction.
  • Vitamin D: supports bone health.
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that supports the immune system.
  • B vitamins: support metabolism and energy production.
  • Taurine: An amino acid that supports heart health.

Water Content

Cats have a low thirst drive. They get most of their water from the food they eat. Kittens need a diet that is at least 70% moisture to stay hydrated.

Dry food has very little moisture and can cause dehydration in kittens. Canned food or raw diets are the best way to ensure your kitten stays hydrated.

High-quality kitten food must meet the nutritional requirements of kittens set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). When buying food for your kitten, look for the label “Complete and balanced nutrition for kittens based on AAFCO feeding trials.” “Complete and balanced nutrition” means your kitten will not need supplementation.

If you decide to make homemade kitten diets, pay attention to their nutritional values. Your kitten will be at risk of hyperparathyroidism if you feed her a low-calcium diet.

What Type of Food? Dry or Wet?

Cat and kitten food
cat food

Young kittens need wet food as part of their diet. Due to their small teeth, young kittens can’t chew dry food as effectively. Kittens also need moisture from wet food to stay hydrated.

Wet kitten food is also more calorie-dense than dry food. This means that kittens can get more calories and nutrients from wet food than dry.

A wet cat diet plays an essential role in flushing out the urinary tract to keep the kidneys healthy. It also provides moisture to keep the kitten hydrated and prevents constipation.

Dry cat food has been noted as one factor that shortens the life spans of our precious feline friends. According to Dr. Lisa Pearson, DVM on cat nutrition, dry cat food is high in carbs and plant-based proteins that can’t be absorbed or digested by cats as effectively as animal-based proteins.

While wet kitten food is the best option, you can supplement with dry food. However, this should start gradually at the sixth week, as shown by the following kitten feeding chart. Make sure to choose a high-quality, kitten-specific dry food.

Kitten’s AgeWeight (lbs)Amount of dry food (cups)
6 weeks⅔ to 1-⅓ ¼ to ⅓ 
7 weeks to 5 months1-½ to 5-¾ ⅓ to 1
6 months to 1 year5-¾ to 12⅔ to 1-¼ 
kitten feeding chart

Note: The amount listed in this feeding chart applies for a 24-hour feeding period. The amount you should feed your kitten vary depending on the product’s calorie content and formula. Counter-check the feeding chart on the back of the kitty’s food packaging. It’s also essential to consult with your vet because kittens have varying nutritional needs. 

Cat Diet Based on Age

Cats need different nutrients at different ages to aid in body development.

0-6 Months Old

This is the period when the kitten experiences high activity levels and body growth.

The main goals during this time are to provide adequate energy, protein, and minerals for proper development.

A kitten’s diet should consist of:

  • High-quality wet food or a mixture of wet and dry food
  • 30% protein on a dry matter basis (DMB)
  • 15-20% fat on DMB

At this age, the kitten should be fed regularly. A rule of thumb is to feed her after every 2-3 hours.

6-9 Months Old

This is the adolescence period when the kitten’s activity levels start to decline.

The main goals during this time are to provide adequate energy and minerals while preventing obesity.

A kitten’s diet should consist of:

  • High-quality wet food or a mixture of wet and dry food
  • 25% protein on DMB
  • 12% fat on DMB

Start developing a habit of feeding her twice a day.

12 Months and Beyond

At 12 months, the kitten is considered an adult. As you continue feeding her twice a day, monitor her weight. Overfeeding your cat will lead to obesity and health problems.

Do not give your cat milk because cats are lactose intolerant. Milk can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, which can be fatal for your cat at this age.

Apart from your cat’s regular meals, you may want to treat her. However, treats should not make up more than 20% of her daily caloric intake.

Treats can be used as a training tool or to show your cat love and affection. When choosing treats for your cat, look for ones that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Some good options include freeze-dried chicken or turkey and canned tuna.

Vaccinations and Health Check-ups

A healthy cat is a happy cat. Your kitty must get all the necessary vaccinations for healthy living.

Cat vaccinations are divided into two:

Core cat vaccinations: These are the ones that protect cats against common and dangerous cat diseases. They include feline parvovirus (FPV), feline calicivirus (FCV), and feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1).

Non-core cat vaccinations: They are recommended only for cats at a higher risk of certain diseases. Your vet will assess the kitten to determine if it’s at risk of certain infections before recommending a non-core vaccine. 

The following table shows a detailed pet cat vaccination schedule:

Cat VaccineInitial Kitten Vaccination (at or under 16 weeks)Initial Adult Cat Vaccination (over 16 weeks) Booster RecommendationComments
RabiesSingle-dose as early as 8 weeks of age, depending on the product. Revaccinate 1 year latersingle dose with a yearly boosterRequired annually or every 3 years, depending on the vaccine used. State regulations may determine the frequency and type of booster required.Core cat vaccine. Rabies is 100% fatal to cats, with no treatment available. Prevention is key.
Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia)As early as 6 weeks, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart1 dose is given a year after the last dose of the initial series, then every 3 years.Core cat vaccine. Feline distemper is a severe contagious disease that most commonly strikes kittens and can cause death.
Feline HerpesvirusAs early as 6 weeks, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart1 dose is given a year after the last dose of the initial series, then every 3 years.Core cat vaccine. Feline herpesvirus causes feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), a very contagious upper respiratory condition.
CalicivirusAs early as six weeks, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age2 doses, 3-4 weeks apartone dose is given a year after the last dose of the initial series, then every three years.Core cat vaccine. A very contagious upper respiratory condition that can cause joint pain, oral ulcerations, fever, and anorexia.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)As early as eight weeks, then 3-4 weeks latertwo doses, 3-4 weeks apartEvery kitten should get a booster at one year.  If the cat doesn’t go outside, no further vaccination is needed unless they are at higher risk. then annually.Non-core cat vaccine.Should test FeLV negative first. Transmitted via Cat-to-cat contact. Can cause cancer, immunosuppressant
BordetellaAs early as 4 weeks2 doses,1 year apartAnnuallyNon-core cat vaccine.A contagious upper respiratory condition.
pet cat vaccination schedule

If you find cat vaccinations expensive, consider pet insurance. The benefit of getting pet insurance is that it comes in handy during emergency situations. Apart from facilitating vaccinations, cat pet insurance helps in other cat care requirements like treatment.

Before signing up for pet insurance, check the terms and conditions to ensure that you’ll manage the payments. Most cat owners rush for pet insurance without considering their financial situations and if they will be able to make the payments. The insurance ends up being eliminated before serving the intended purpose.

If you’re in the United States of America, Markel American Insurance Company is a good place to start.

Socializing Your New Kitten

Cat socialization entails exposing your sweet kitty to humans, furry friends, and other cats within your home. Socializing your feline eliminates timidness and aggressiveness while preventing uncouth behavior problems like boycotting the sandbox.

Cats are remarkably intelligent companions who can be the most playful and affectionate pals around us. Your li’l buddy’s behavior is partly determined by how well you socialize her.

If you think of having your fluffy kitten purring in your lap, you must introduce her to different people and animals—the sooner, the better. Kittens who are not socialized early enough may grow up to be fearful or even hostile to other creatures and humans.

Here are some ideas for socializing your kitten:

Provide a Safe Place

When a kitty is frightened, the first thing she’ll want to do is hide. So, make sure your home has plenty of places where she can feel safe and secure. This could be a cat tree, a windowsill perch, or even just a cardboard box placed upside down with a hole cut out for her to crawl into.

You can also leave the cat crate or carrier in her room. Place a blanket or towel in the carrier so she can use it as a hiding place if she feels scared.

Introduce Her to New Situations Slowly

When you first bring your kitten home, don’t overwhelm her with too much change all at once. Let her adjust to her new surroundings and get used to your scent before introducing her to other family members or pets. Once she’s feeling comfortable, start exposing her slowly to other people and animals.

Do this gradually, though, so she doesn’t get overwhelmed. For example, if you have another cat at home, introduce them by placing the carrier with your new kitten in it next to the carrier of your resident cat. Allow them to sniff each other through the bars and take things at their pace.

Don’t Force Interactions

Never force your kitten into a situation that makes her feel uncomfortable. If she hisses, growls, or tries to run away, just leave her be and try again another day. Forcing her will only make her more scared and less likely to want to socialize in the future.

Overly affectionate kiddos eventually end up with bites and scratches. Socializing your kitty at her pace makes her more trusting, well-behaved, and affectionate.

Schedule Playtime

Playing with your cat is not only fun, but it’s also a great way to bond with her and help her burn off all that excess energy. Kittens have a lot of energy, so they need plenty of opportunities to run around and play.

Try to schedule at least 15 minutes of playtime with your kitten every day. If you can’t do this daily, try a few times a week.

Get Some Toys

Toys are essential for keeping your kitten entertained and engaged. They also provide mental stimulation, which is important for preventing boredom and decreasing destructive behaviors.

When choosing toys for your kitten, look for ones that are small, lightweight, and easy to carry. Kittens also love toys that make noise, such as crinkle balls and jingle bells.

Reward Social Behavior and Ignore the Rest

Your feline friend deserves a reward when she comes out to investigate you and your family. So, offer her a treat or some catnip when she does this. At the same time, though, don’t make a big deal out of it when she hisses or growls. Ignore the behavior and wait for her to calm down.

The more receptive you’re to socializing your kitty, the more likely she is to enjoy being around people and other animals. It takes time, patience, and a lot of love, but the effort is worth it. You’ll end up with a well-socialized cat who loves spending time with you and your family.

Expert Tip: If you notice your li’l buddy agitated, take a break. You must be flexible with your feline friend because the socialization intent is majorly hers. 10-15 minutes sessions daily are enough to start breaking the ice with your feline.

Training Your New Cat

Yes! Cats are intelligent pets. They can be trained to obey commands, use litter, and more. It’s easier if you’ve got the right information that rhymes well with your new kitty.

What to Remember Before Training Your Cat

  • The training’s intent: What do you aim to achieve with the training? Do you want to correct an inappropriate behavior like furniture scratching? Teach the kitty cool tricks like high five? Once you determine what you want to achieve, start gradually with your furry friend.
  • The best time to train: Kittens have shorter attention spans than cats, so it’s best to start training them early. That said, you can still train an older cat; it just might take a little longer.
  • The right environment: Choose a quiet room with few distractions where you can easily supervise your kitten during training sessions.
  • How to train your kitten: Start with simple commands like sit and come and use positive reinforcement in the form of treats or praise when she obeys. Never punish your kitten for making mistakes; this will only make her scared and less likely to want to learn.
  • Involve family members: Everyone needs to know what the intention of the training is. For example, if you want the cat to stop biting behavior, all family members must use the same tactic to correct the cat. Consistency is critical when it comes to training your cat.
  • Patience: Like all animals, cats learn at their own pace. Some pick up new commands quickly, while others need more time. Don’t get discouraged if your kitten isn’t progressing as fast as you’d like; keep working with her and be patient.

Litter Training Your Cat

The first step in litter training your cat is to choose the suitable litter. There are different types of litter available on the market. The common ones are the clumping and non-clumping cat litter.

When selecting the type of litter, consider your kitty’s age. Kittens below four months should only use non-clumping litter because the clumping litter is dangerous if ingested.

The next step is to choose a cat pan. Again, there are different types of cat pans available on the market. The common ones are the open and covered boxes.

If you have more than one cat, it’s best to get a litter box for each new cat. This will prevent fighting over one litter box and reduce the chances of accidents.

Place the cat’s litter box in the right spot. The new cat should access it easily in a quiet and private area.

The last step is to teach your cat how to use the litter box. A neat trick for first-time cat owners is to place her in the litter box after she’s had a meal or a drink. Use her front paws to scratch the sand until she urinates. Repeat this severally and your new cat will realize the purpose of the sandbox.

Remember to praise and reward your kitty each time she uses the litter box. This will encourage her to keep using it.

Cleaning Litter Boxes

As a first-time cat owner, it’s worth knowing how to keep your kitty’s litter boxes clean.

A clean sandbox encourages the cat to use it. Therefore, It’s important to clean it regularly. The frequency depends on how many new cats you have and how often they use the box.

If you have one cat, you should scoop out the waste at least once a day and completely empty and clean the box once a week. Therefore, you need a litter scoop.

If you have more than one cat, you should scoop out the waste several times a day and completely empty and clean the boxes at least once a week.

To clean the litter box, use hot water and dish soap. Rinse it well and dry it before adding new sand.

Apart from encouraging your new cat to use a litter box, cleaning it eliminates the unpleasant ammonia odor from the house. The odor emanates from cat urine and poop.

Training Your Kitty Not to Bite

As a first-time cat owner, the first step is to know why a new cat bites. Does it bite when you disrespect her or she’s just a rough player?

If your new cat bites when you disrespect her, the problem might be that you’re not respecting her personal space. Cats are territorial creatures, and they need their own space.

Give her a place where she can go to get away from people when she wants to be left alone. This could be a room in the house or even a cat tree.

Make sure everyone in the house knows about her space and respects it. This includes not only family members but also visitors to your home.

If your new cat bites when she’s playing, stop the game immediately. Stand or sit still and ignore her. She’ll eventually get bored and walk away.

Start the game again when she’s calm. If she bites, stop the game and repeat the process. She’ll learn that biting ends the fun.

Remember to praise her when she plays without biting. This will encourage her to keep up the good behavior.

Training the Cat Not to Scratch Furniture

Your new cat may be scratching furniture as a way of sharpening her claws. You must provide her with a scratching post to satisfy this natural instinct.

The scratching post should be tall enough for her to stretch and scratch. It should also be stable so that it doesn’t tip over when she scratches it.

Whenever you see the kitty scratching furniture instead of the post, distract her with a sharp, uncommon sound. This could be a can of pennies or a whistle. The sound will alert her without causing panic. Remember to use the same sound every time you see her scratching furniture.

After a while, she’ll associate the sharp sound with furniture scratching and stop doing it.

You can also discourage your cat from scratching furniture by using double-sided tape or placing foil on the legs of chairs and tables. The sticky sensation will deter her from scratching.

Never use physical punishment to discipline your cat. This includes spanking, hitting, or spraying her with water. These methods will only make the problem worse.

Obedience Training for Your Kitten

Come When Called

The first step in obedience training is to get your kitten used to her name. Start by calling her name when she’s doing something you want her to do, such as eating or playing.

Then call her name when she’s not doing anything in particular. When she turns to look at you, praise and reward her with a treat.

To get your kitty to obey the command and come to you when called, start by attracting her with her favorite treats as you call her name. Reward her when she gets to you. Soon, she’ll make a connection between her name and the treats.

The video below demonstrates how to train a cat to come when called:

how to train your cat to come when called


Sitting is another obedience training command that’s relatively easy to teach.

To get your cat to sit, hold a treat close to her nose and then move it up and back so that she has to lower her head to keep following the treat. As she does this, say “sit.”

Once she’s in the sitting position, give her the treat and praise her.

High Five

A high five from your furry friend is sure to put a smile on your face. It’s also a fun trick to show off to your friends and family.

To train your cat to a high five, start by wrapping a treat in your fist and wait for her to try and grab it. When she does, say “high five.” As she starts to raise her paw to get the treat, give it to her.

Repeat this process until she consistently raises her paw when you say “high five.” You can then start using your other hand and eventually phase out the treats.

Grooming Your Kitten

Cats are naturally clean animals and usually groom themselves. However, they still require some help from their parents.

Your cat is not able to reach certain areas when grooming, such as the base of the tail and top of the head. You will need to help her out in these areas.

In addition, long-haired cats need to be brushed regularly to prevent mats and tangles from forming in their fur.

It’s worth noting that the grooming sessions should be undertaken gradually. Start with short sessions of about 5-10 minutes and increase the time as your cat gets more comfortable.

You should also make sure to have everything you need before starting, such as a brush, comb, and nail clippers. This way, the grooming session is less likely to be interrupted.

Finally, end the session on a positive note by giving your kitty a treat or some extra cuddles.

The following are the basic cat grooming practices:


Your fastidious feline friend will likely enjoy being brushed, especially if it’s done with a soft-bristled brush. Brushing your new cat keeps her coat tidy especially if she has long fur.

Start by brushing in the direction of the fur and then follow up with a second brush going against the grain. This will help remove any loose fur and knots.

Don’t forget to brush your cat’s tail. You need two types of combs:

  • A metal comb: This loosens dead fur. Always brush starting from the head to the tail to prevent fur from getting into the cat’s eyes.
  • Bristle or rubber brush: This is to remove the dead hair and should be brushed in the same direction.

Expert Tip: Always be careful around the cat’s eyes and ears when brushing. Ensure that the brush is not too harsh.

Nail Trimming

Trim your cat’s nails every two to three weeks. You will need a pair of sharp nail trimmers designed specifically for cats.

  • Start by gently squeezing the top and bottom of your kitty’s footpads to extend the nails. You should only trim the white part of the nail. Never cut the inner pink area of your cat’s nails, it’s the quick which contains nerves. If you cut it, it will bleed and be painful for your cat.
  • If you can’t see the quick, err on the side of caution and only trim a small amount off the end of each nail.
  • Have styptic powder ready in case you cut the quick. The powder will help stop the bleeding.

Expert Tip: If you’re not comfortable trimming your cat’s nails, take her to a groomer or vet. They will do it for you.

Anal Gland Expression

Cats have two small glands located near their anus that secrete a foul-smelling liquid. This liquid is used to mark their territory.

Most cats express their anal glands automatically when they defecate. However, some need help with this process.

If your cat is scooting her bottom along the floor or seems to be in pain when using the litter box, she may need her anal glands expressed. Anal gland expression is a simple procedure that can be done at home.

  • First, put on a pair of rubber gloves. Then, gently lift your cat’s tail and look for two small bumps on either side of her anus.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply some pressure to one of the bumps until you see or feel a small amount of liquid being expressed. Repeat this process with the other gland.
  • Wipe away any excess liquid with the cotton ball.

Expert Tip: Anal gland expression should only be done when necessary. If your cat is having problems with her anal glands, take her to the vet. They will be able to properly express the glands and give you tips on how to prevent future problems.

Bathing Your Kitty

If your furry friend gets into something sticky, dirty, and smelly, she may need a bath.

Baths are best done when the cat is at her most mellow. It can be after she’s eaten a big meal or taken a nap.

Follow the below procedure to bathe your cat:

  1. Fill the sink or bathtub with a few inches of lukewarm water.
  2. Place your cat in the tub and wet her fur with the water (use a hand-held spray wash if you have one).
  3. Apply cat shampoo to her fur and massage it in. Be careful not to get any soap in her eyes, ears, or mouth.
  4. Rinse your kitty’s fur thoroughly.
  5. Remove your cat from the tub and wrap her in a towel to remove any excess water.

Expert Tip: Never use human shampoo on your cat as it can be harsh on their skin. Only use products that are specifically designed for cats.

Dental Care

Your kitty’s teeth need just as much care as your own. Plaque and tartar can build up on her teeth and lead to gum disease.

Brushing your cat’s teeth is the best way to keep her mouth healthy. You will need a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for cats.

To brush your cat’s teeth:

  • Put a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  • Gently lift your cat’s lip and brush the bristles along her teeth and gums.
  • Be sure to brush the front, top, and back of her teeth.
  • Rinse your kitty’s mouth with water and give her a treat.

Expert Tip: It’s best to start brushing your cat’s teeth when she’s a kitten. This will get her used to the process and make it easier for you in the long run.

Exercising Your Cat

Exercising cat
cat exercising

You’re not the only one who needs to work out. Cats need exercise too.

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity, which can cause health problems like diabetes and joint pain.

The following are ways to help your cat exercise and eliminate the risk of obesity:

  • Lots to scratch: Provide your cat with plenty of scratching materials. Scratching is a great cat care as it aids her to stretch her muscles and relieve stress.
  • Playtime: Use cat toys to entice your kitty to run, jump, and play. A simple game of string can provide hours of entertainment (for both you and your cat).
  • Puzzle feeders: Slow down mealtime by using a puzzle feeder. Your cat will have to work for her food, which will give her a good workout. You can do this by using a toy that dispenses food or by hiding her food around the house.
  • Get her a piñata: Fill a piñata with catnip and let your kitty go to town. She’ll love the challenge of getting to the goodies inside.

Expert Tip: It’s important to find the right balance of exercise for your cat. Too much (or too little) can lead to health problems like obesity or joint pain.

Final Thoughts

As a first-time cat owner, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Raising a cat is similar to raising a child in many ways. They need love, attention, and proper care as described in this ultimate guide to keeping your first cat.

It’s important to know that your new friend looks up to you for guidance. Be patient and understanding with your cat, and you’ll form a bond that will last a lifetime.

Provide her with the necessary basic needs detailed in this guide and see your furry friend flourish. Nothing is more rewarding than that.

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