Lessons For A First Time Cat Owner
Lessons for a first time cat owner through observation. Finn Frode is a role model for us in respect of the enjoyable work of cat caretaking. A first time cat owner could do a lot worse than observing how Finn goes about caring for his two cats, Snow White and Milly.
I was prompted into writing this article by some photographs that Finn showed me. We are currently going through very cold weather across Europe (Nov. 30th 2010). Finn lives in Copenhagen, Denmark and the weather there is bad at the moment – icy cold and lots of snow.
This does not stop Finn going out for a walk with Snow White. Here they are:
These photos are copyright Finn Frode.
How nice is that?! Hands up all the people who find the time, patience and care to go out with their cat like that, under those conditions?
What can a first time cat owner learn from these photographs? Giving up sufficient time for our cat, patience and safety are three things that come immediately to mind – the foundation stones of a good human/cat relationship. Snow White is safe despite being outdoors in a built up environment because Finn has taken the time to leash train her. I say “leash train” but I suspect that Finn just put a leash on Snow White and, gradually, she got used to it, which is made more easy if she is doing something that interests her when she is wearing it (Finn might correct me on that). There is an association between wearing a leash and going out for a walk. Apparently Snow White leads Finn around.
“If by chance we meet a dog while out walking, I always pick her up, but even if she becomes scared, she won’t ever bite or scratch me. She never panics, just growls a little. But what really amazes me is that she actually seems to have learned that I am not able to follow her under bushes, parked cars and other cat shortcuts, so now she leads me around them instead of under. It’s always a pleasure walking with her – and she obviously enjoys it too. And contrary to our Norwegian Milly, Snow White doesn’t mind the snow at all.”..a quote from Finn
The concept of respect for our cat companion is also shown in Finn’s cat enclose (please read about it: Our New Cat Enclosure or Catio). I think that Finn bought his house with a cat enclosure in mind. I think he bought the house on the basis that is was good for human and cat. That is a lesson for a first time cat owner! It is one I can sympathise with as I am currently in the process of deciding whether to move or not and the biggest factor in my search for a new home is, you guessed it, my cats! Is the garden safe? Can I build an enclosure? Is the home big enough etc.?
Finn’s cat enclosure under construction. Photo: copyright Finn Frode.
A cat enclosure is the best compromise, I feel, between keeping a cat safe while allowing him or her a degree of natural living sampling the outdoors; seeing, hearing and smelling the sights and sounds of nature. This must be good for a cat. Not everyone is in a position to build a cat enclosure but if it is possible in terms of space and finance I would do it. You can see Snow White looking out from Finn’s enclosure in this picture by Finn:
Photo: copyright Finn Frode.
A first time cat owner should obviously prioritise cat safety. Finn sets a perfect example of this in the two examples mentioned. One of the major difficulties new cat owners have with cats is their “claws”! People “want a cat” but not necessarily the claws. You gotta accept the claws – sorry. One way to help with that process is to allow a cat to do what is natural with its claws – scratch. This is best carried out on a scratching post and once again Finn sets the right example – a good lesson for a first time cat owner. Maggie asks the question: Will my cat use a scratching post? and Finn provides some very useful tips in a comment.
OK, our cat is safe and can act naturally – the basics are in place. The remaining things that a first time cat owner needs to take care of are:
- Feed the best cat food that within your budget – obvious, yes but what is the best? These pages might help American visitor: Best canned cat food and best dry cat food.
- Groom your cat. The cat flea is an ever present danger no matter how clean etc. the home is (cat flea treatment). A regular check with a flea comb is beneficial and pleasant for cat and human. Grooming generally is too.
- Play – play is something that is sometimes overlooked. Giving time and having patience towards our cat is what our cat desires. This is about “expectation management“. The first time cat owner should have the right expectations about cat caretaking before adopting a cat – cat games to play
- Lastly the cat litter…Excellent cat litter management will pay dividends. The right place, correct size and daily cleaning are all essential. This page might help: My 12 year old cat doesn’t use the litter box properly as it has some excellent comments.
- Gentleness towards our cats counts for a lot. We, the human, are louder, bigger, and more dangerous than our cat. We should curb some of our worst instincts – cats live in a land of giants.