A naive beginners guide to owning a cat

A naive beginners guide to owning a cat

A naive beginners guide to owning a cat

I have a cat. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be a cat person, but perhaps years of failed relationships have taken their toll and I’ve finally accepted my destiny: I am officially a cat lady! This cat is a little black rescue kitten who has the coolest white eyeliner around his eyes, and he’s called Biggie.

I’ve never owned a cat before, so I was completely new and rather terrified at the prospect of it, so I thought I would write about everything I have learned so far as a new cat owner in case you too are thinking of welcoming a feline friend into your home.

When I say I knew nothing about owning a cat, I mean literally zilch. I have been hassling my fellow cat friends for advice and learning what I can to be the best cat mama possible, and so these are my findings so far.

Vaccinations

Just like a dog, a kitten needs two vaccinations three weeks apart to protect them from all the possible injections and diseases the big wide world can offer. Therefore you need to register your cat at a vet, and get these booked in. I imagine all vets are different, and London prices are probably extortionate and if you’re reading up in Cumbria that I paid £80 for the two injections you’re probably spitting out your Yorkshire tea, but that’s what I paid at my vets at Mill Lane in West Hampstead. That’s £80 for both, so technically £40 each, and until they have these injections, they shouldn’t be allowed out into the big wide world in case they pick up diseases from dirty puddles or other animals.

Vet Box 

Like with dogs, you also need to give your cat worming tablets and flea solution every few months. This prevents them from getting fleas or worms, but also other diseases such as lungworm, which they can catch from slugs and other animals if they are unvaccinated. I am notoriously scatty when it comes to remembering to deworm and de-flea my pets, so I actually use a subscription service called Vet Box.

Vet Box is a service created by a vet, they send a package every single month for your pet, and you can include treats and other essentials. I find the service essential because not only does it save me a trip to the vets every month, it stops me from forgetting.

House cat or street cat?

That brings me to the next rather baffling concept as someone who is used to having dogs: Do you want your cat to be an indoor cat, or would you be happy with your feline friend exploring the streets?

Whatever your decision, for the first 6 months, your kitten must stay indoors so that he grows loyalty and attachment to you and your home and therefore would want to return by the time they are allowed freedom.

I am lucky enough to own a garden, and we rescued Biggie in the midst of a British heatwave, so we tentatively allowed him out into the garden terrified he’d jump the fence and run for his life the moment our eyes were averted. As a few weeks passed, we chilled out as the furthest Biggie goes it the top of the step and he just chills or tries to catch a few flies in his predatory way (it’s like watching a domesticated safari, it’s exactly how they hunt in the Lion King). I’m sure as he gets older he’ll become more adventurous, but we are hoping to keep him as a house cat who is allowed in the garden. Watch this space!

Litter Box

Despite us having a garden with a door that is open nearly all day (when we are in of course), Biggie returns to the house to do his dirty business, unlike his canine brothers who go outside.
I do have friends who have trained their cats to do their business outside, and perhaps I will do that, but I’m still totally baffled by the Litter Box.

A litter box is a container that you fill with litter, and cats miraculously know that all their business shall be done there. It’s literally a cat toilet and it blows my mind. I used puppy pads for weeks with Snoop as I applauded him each time he successfully avoiding pooping on the carpet.

When I first got Biggie, I invested in a standard £10 litterbox, which was an open box, but I very quickly realised that this was the worst contraption for several reasons:
1. He may look cute, but Biggie was capable of producing the biggie-est, stinkiest poops, and whilst cats very considerately cover their waste in the litter, the open-air nature of the litterbox meant I’d sometimes walk into my room and the smell would be unbearable. Also, take into account for a moment that the litter tray is kept in my bathroom and I kept imagining scenarios when I would finally find a boyfriend, or at least a boy I wanted to bring home, and we’d walk into my room and I’d have to awkwardly exclaim: “that is my cat, not me!”.
2. The waste doesn’t just disappear. That means you have to scoop it out on the regular. And not just to keep the room smelling fresh, but because cats are such divas that they refuse to go to the toilet in a litter-tray that is too dirty. I’m not going to lie, I really respect them for that.
3.Finally, an open air litter-tray means that you will be constantly sweeping up the loose litter that gets all over the floor, and sometimes up the wall too.

So there was nothing else to it, I needed to look into pricier options, and so me and google had a very sexy cat litter date and I found out about all the best in the business, and here were my worthy findings.

The ModKat

The ModKat is an award-winning litter box (Yes, there are awards for litter boxes) whose design has been very thoughtfully considered: it as a lid to stop the fumes, a walk-off mat to stop your cat bringing litter onto the floors, and even a Scoop which is good for clumps, and can be stored on the side of the box. They look pretty good too, as far as Litter Boxes go.

Kitty A Go Go

The Kitty A Go Go littertrays basically look like a piece of furniture, and you can pick which colour you want. They have a ventilated hood, and also you can pull the tray out, making the scooping process easier.

The Litter-Robot

Never in a million years did I expect to read the word ‘robot’ and ‘litter’ together, especially not in the context of cats, but this is the absolute daddy of cat litter trays. The Litter-Robot is a self-cleaning litter tray that you plug in, and it automatically senses when the cat is using the tray, and will clean it after it’s left. All the dirty litter is moved into a bag at the bottom of the tray that can be thrown away once it’s full – that means no scooping required.
The thought of scooping up poop every day of my life for the next decade or more did not appeal to me, so I decided that this would be the litter tray I invested in. It’s not cheap, but I repeat: A DECADE OF SCOOPING UP POOP. It seems worth it.
I must say, I was hoping it would live in the living room, but it looks like a spaceship and is really quite massive, so it remains in my bathroom, but there’s been no funky smells and it’s working pretty seamlessly, so I am a very happy cat owner.

Oh, it’s worth saying as well that it’s worth investing in good litter that clumps around the wee and poo. I’m using Nature’s Calling, because it’s biodegradable and I can flush it, but it means that both the scoop and robot can easily collect dirty litter.

Food

I have my kitten on the same diet that he was on when I received him, but it’s working well for both of us. He is such a foodie! I feed him three times per day, because he’s still a kitten, and feed him quarter of a pack of Natures Menu chicken wet food, and a handful of Royal Canin First Age Mother & Babycat food.

Oh, and prior to popular belief, cats are lactose-intolerant, so don’t feed them milk. Thanks to my fellow cat-ladies for pointing this out to me.

Biggie also loves treats, which I am hiding in his bed so that we learns to love his bed. I’ve been told that Thrive treats are the best, but I do limit these to a couple per day.

The Guisapet Beds

Again, this is another are I spent a long time researching online, because I’m very house proud and so I wanted to find a bed that Biggie would love that wouldn’t be an eyesore to my interiors. I came across a brand called Guisapet, who sell incredible cat and dog beds. They are super comfortable, but also have cute animal ears on the top of them. I am totally in love with Biggie’s kitty cave, so much so I now own the small dog bed too. Biggie absolutely loves it, although admittedly it’s been harder to get Snoop on board after years of him sleeping in my bed. It’s a working progress! But I love having the beds in the living, they are pieces of art.

The Collar

There are so many awesome brands for collars, but my favourite discovery is luxury cat company Cheshire & Wain. It’s quite pricey, but I wanted a collar that would last and that I would love. The collar is really soft and light made from suede and leather, and it has a bell on it which has been a total game-changer. Biggie is the master of hiding, when I first got him I’d have to cancel my plans as I frantically ran around the house wondering where on earth the little ninja had disappeared to. Since getting the bell, I can hear him jingling around. Bells are also great to have on a collar if your cat is going to be wandering the streets as it means they are less likely to be able to hunt meaning there’s less chance of them bringing you dead mice home as presents.

Affection

Last but in no way least, do not expect a lot of affection when you get a cat. I must say that each and every cat is completely different: some are lap cats, and some will never let you touch them and sadly there is no way to predict which type of cat you will end up with.

Biggie is no lap cat, unless it’s 5am when he decides that is the only time he will demand my affection by purring whilst sitting on my chest.

And the sad thing is, I welcome that affection. The worst thing is, he wants to be near me at all times, but the moment I try to touch him he’s gone. It makes me desperate for his affection! And do you know what, It’s made me realise that when comes to men, I really need to be more cat. But that’s another story…

I hope you found this rather naive guide to owning a kitten useful, or at least mildly entertaining. If you’re reading this as a cat owner and think I’ve missed out some crucial cat information or companies, then please leave a comment below so we can all benefit from your wisdom. If you’re reading this as a new cat owner, or you’re thinking of investing in a feline friend, then let me know if you found my experience useful.

Speak to you soon,
This crazy cat lady. x

Ashley James

Ashley James

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