20 Common Mistakes of 1st Time Cat People

Cats are sweet, and kittens are arguably cuter, but are you really prepared for your new pet?

Help your cats avoid illness and behavioral issues by cleaning the litter box thoroughly and often. By: dave.see

Cats are so rewarding to have in your family, and they take a lot of work, despite the common misconception that cats are completely independent.

So aside from getting a cat on impulse, people who have just brought home their first cat often make many other common mistakes.

Here are the first 10 mistakes in my top 20 list:

1. No Parasite Control

While most people with cats are familiar with fleas, other pests — such as tapeworms, mites, hookworms, roundworms, ticks and even heartworms — can affect cats. Heartworm treatment options are limited; the disease is not as treatable as it is with dogs.

Some of these parasites can be transmitted to humans, so talk with your veterinarian about preventive care based on your location and cat’s habits (e.g., indoor versus outdoor cats).

2. Not Spaying or Neutering Your Cat

Kitten season isn’t just a myth; it happens every year at every shelter, and cats and kittens are left looking for homes when prevention could have avoided their fate.

Do yourself and your cat a favor and have her fixed. Cats can become pregnant as early as 4–6 months of age, so don’t delay in discussing the procedure with your vet.

3. No Litter Box Training

Not every cat is born with the instinct to use the litter box, and stray or feral cats may not be familiar with it at all.

Some cats may need training to associate waste with this location, and others may avoid using the litter box due to other health issues. Work with your vet to rule out medical or behavioral issues and start training.

When grooming your cat, pay attention to the teeth, nails and ears as well as the coat. 

4. Ignoring the Claws

A cat’s claws are sharp and can grow to painful lengths without scratching posts or regular trimming, so implement a grooming regimen as early as possible. I’ve had the best success with waiting until the cat is tired or just woken from a nap.

Declawing is not recommended, is painful for the cat and is considered illegal in some areas.

5. Buying Cheap Food

Just because Purr-Paw Chow is on sale for $1 per bag doesn’t mean it’s good for your cat.

Check the ingredients for high-protein and low-carbohydrate ingredients. A lack of necessary nutrients and high-carb diets can cause myriad health issues and obesity in cats, so think twice before grabbing the cheap chow.

6. Cleaning the Litter Box Once a Month

Cats are very clean animals, and they appreciate a clean area for their waste.

Check the box at least once per day for contributions, and keep it clean and fresh. And remember to introduce new types of litter gradually so your cat gets adjusted to the new textures and odors.

7. Ignoring Grooming

While cats spend a majority of their time cleaning themselves (next to sleeping, of course), there are still areas that need attention from you.

In addition to keeping the claws trimmed, spend time at least once a week checking and cleaning the cat’s ears and teeth, and brushing the coat. Bathing is even sometimes necessary if their coats get muddy or sticky. This grooming will help reduce ear mites, dental problems, dander and the amount of fur ingested by your cat.

8. Optional Vaccinations

While it’s true vaccinations come with risks and benefits, some are required by law depending on your location. Almost all U.S. states require rabies vaccinations, so check with your vet and local laws to determine if the vaccine is required every year or once every 3 years.

Other vaccinations are considered necessary and may include distemper, herpes and other viruses. Additional vaccines are available for other conditions such as leukemia, bordetella and the feline immunodeficiency virus.

9. Ignoring Illnesses and Injuries

When cats become sick or injured, have them examined by your veterinarian immediately. Some minor injuries or illnesses can turn serious, while others may just need to be monitored.

Don’t take a chance — be proactive to provide the best quality of care for your pet. Catching major illnesses early can also be cheaper and bring better health benefits for your cat.

10. Endless Food

Cats can become overweight if food is always made available.

Read the labels and check with your vet to determine the right amount of food to provide for your cat. Obesity is a serious problem, and regulating your cat’s food intake ensure a healthy weight and reduce future health issues.


11. Cats Belong Outdoors

A common reason people leave cats outdoors is to reduce spraying because they’re not neutered. The solution? Get your cat fixed and don’t add to the overpopulation problem.

Other dangers exist outdoors aside from the stalking behavior or “thrill of the kill” you think your cat needs. Cars can hit, raccoons can transfer rabies, the neighbor doesn’t clean up an antifreeze spill — or your cat could get locked in a building while exploring. The possibilities are endless.

If you allow your cats outdoors, have them spayed or neutered, as well as keep them updated on vaccines. While I firmly believe cats will have longer, happier lives indoors, I know others enjoy giving their cats that outdoor freedom.

12. Cats Can Eat Anything

False. Several foods, plants and other items are toxic to cats and can cause illness or death.

Giving cats the wrong medications, medications designed for dogs or even human medications is a leading cause of death among household pets. Always use medications specifically designed for cats.

13. The Other Pets Won’t Mind

If you have existing pets, spend the time to properly introduce and socialize them with your cat. Some small animals and rodents may be considered prey by your new feline addition and need to be regularly secured and supervised.

Some dogs with high prey drives cannot be trusted with cats, so do your research. And even if your dog doesn’t attack the cat, the cat can always attack the dog.

Never give your cat medication that’s intended for use in dogs or people. 

14. My Indoor Cat Doesn’t Need a Checkup

The truth? They should be checked so the vet can evaluate their coat, ears, teeth, eyes, skin, blood work, weight and many other concerns.

Allowing hidden illnesses to go unnoticed will only increase your pet’s problems — and your expenses.

15. My Cat Will Never Get Lost

Outdoor cats’ nearby proximity is not guaranteed. They may get distracted by something and venture farther than they realize. Finding their way back depends on the distance traveled and their instincts.

Don’t chance it — always have a collar and tag on your cat for easy identification. Another option is microchipping, which is inexpensive and ensures your pet’s return if they are lost and scanned. There are also pet amber alert systems in place, but it’s best to plan ahead — consider the microchip option.

16. Pet Meds Are Good for Any Pet

No, they’re not. Many medications and treatments for dogs and humans can be deadly to cats. Even the w