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10 Common Mistakes New Cat Owners Make and How to Avoid Them

10 Common Mistakes New Cat Owners Make
Loving and caring for a cat are two totally different concepts. And if this fact is not understood, one could end up making a lot of mistakes in raising a feline. CatAppy highlights the 10 common mistakes new cat owners make, and how to avoid the same.
Rujuta Borkar
Last Updated: Jun 7, 2017
"In nine lifetimes, you'll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you."
― Michel de Montaigne
*Who's the kitty-cat! Who's the ball of fur ... Who's the ...*

A routinely typical burst of love from a hard-core feline lover this. And cat lovers will have no difficulty understanding the exact sentiments that bring forth this excerpt. Period.

Granted you love cats, and you assume that because you love cats so much, it pretty much translates into you being an excellent caregiver, right? Wrong. Loving a cat and taking care of it are two very different things, and the secret to being a good owner is to understand this fact as early as possible. Getting a new kitten or cat home comes with its set of responsibilities, and if you're not aware of what it takes to own and raise a cat, you could end up making a lot of mistakes. So, what exactly are these mistakes and alternately, what are the things that you should look into when caring for a cat?
Smothering it with Love
Cat dressed up in shoes
Dressing the cat up is not fun for the cat
What You Do
We completely get your urge to squeeze the daylights out of that cat of yours, and maybe sometimes it's OK, but it's definitely not OK when you've just got the cat/kitten home, and it has not had the time to acclimatize to its surroundings yet. It's normal behavior for a new cat to hide under the furniture, and not respond to your urgent pleas of coming out. So, don't go about stretching your arms and trying to pull it out with its tails. That will only traumatize the cat. Another thing―don't dress up your cat up and make it do things that it's clearly not enjoying.

Why to Avoid This
A cat needs to get used to its new surroundings and acclimatize to them in order to be comfortable around you and the home. Forcing your love on the cat when it clearly isn't ready to take it all in, will only make it go into a shell. If you continue with this behavior, it might start avoiding you because it will equate being with you to being tortured. And the worst-case scenario? It may even turn violent, if it gets too much for it to take.

What You Should Do
Give the cat some space, and allow it the time to get used to the new home and you. Once it realizes that you're not out to harm it, it will automatically come near you.
Not Making the Home Pet-ready
Kitten being fed with syringe
Keep an empty syringe handy to feed weak kittens
What You Do
You bring in the new kitten/cat home and think that it will adjust to the new home 'just like that'. So, you anticipate nothing, and keep nothing ready for the cat.

Why to Avoid This
The cat has a lot of needs that you are solely responsible for. If you do not fulfill these, you will compromise on the quality of its life.

What You Should Do
☛ Read up on books, and talk to other cat owners and your vet to get an idea of what your new cat needs.

☛ Keep a first-aid box ready which contains the basic medicines.

☛ In certain cases, when the kitten is too small (say your cat gives birth to a litter) and is unable to feed by itself, it can be fed with the help of an empty syringe or dropper. Keep one ready.

☛ Prepare a place for it with the help of blankets, and the like, to keep it warm.

☛ Provide a scratching post for it, or it will end up ruining your furniture.

☛ In case you're going to be putting really small kittens out at night, put a bangle around their neck. This will prevent harm in case of an attack by a male cat.
Making a Mess of the Litter Box
Cat in litter box
Make sure to clean the litter box regularly
What You Do
You give your cat a litter box alright, but you don't clean it often. You rarely give the placement of the litter box any thought, and you think it's OK for several cats to share the same litter box.

Why to Avoid This
A cat requires some quiet time when it is doing it's business―so, the location of the box becomes really important. A cat has preferences when it comes to the material in the litter box and may avoid anything new. Not cleaning the litter box might force the cat to do her business in other areas of the house. Fighting for the litter box and having to share it with other cats will also result in the same consequence.

What You Should Do
Place the box in a quiet corner that is away from any noise and activity. More importantly, there are different types of cat litter material that are available, and your cat might have a preference. You will just have to experiment to know what it likes best. Also, cats are extremely clean creatures, so make sure that you clean the litter box every day, or it will be forced to use the home for the same. Cats are extremely territorial, so make sure that you do not force it to share its litter box. Keep a separate litter box for each cat that you own.
Not Looking into its Health Needs
Cat being given shot
Give it all the required shots
What You Do
You bring the cat home, and do not really look into setting up a proper health regime for it.

Why to Avoid This
Your cat could develop a number of health issues, unnecessarily causing it to become weak.

What You Should Do
Talk to the people from where you've bought/adopted the cat to understand its medical history. This will help you be prepared for any kind of sickness that might come about. Take it to a vet, and give it the necessary shots. Another important issue is that of spaying or neutering the cats―think about whether you want this for the cat, and speak to the vet about it.
Buying Cheap Cat Food
Cat with cat food
Concentrate on good food, rather than cheap food
What You Do
Give it canned food without checking for the nutrient content and thinking that it should always be fed.

Why to Avoid This
The wrong kind of food will lead to a number of health problems in the cat, like loose stools, renal failure, excessive shedding, vomiting, urinary infections, and obesity. Overfeeding will lead to obesity and cause for similar consequences.

What You Should Do
Do not compromise on the food―concentrate on the contents and not the cost of the food. Your cat's diet should be high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Also, speak to your vet about the kind of alternatives you can provide for your cat other than the cat food alone. And most importantly, never overfeed the cat. Set up regular feed timings and follow them well. Make sure the amount is also calculated properly.
Not Reading Into its Behavior
Sick cat being cuddled
Look into any change in behavior or ill health
What You Do
You are not aware if there are changes in your cat's behavior and habits, or you relegate anything different as being normal and do nothing about it.

Why to Avoid This
Anything out of the blue in the cat's behavior or habits could be indicative of some issues with its health, which, if not treated well, could lead to health complications, or even prove to be fatal.

What You Should Do
Keep a watch on any of these behavior, and contact the vet in case of any problems.

☛ Coughing up fur balls
☛ Sleeping more than usual
☛ Not using the litter box
☛ Vomiting or diarrhea
☛ Sudden weight loss or weight gain
☛ Changes in urination and/or defecation
☛ Not eating
☛ Panting
☛ Excessive sneezing
☛ Changes in grooming styles
Not Understanding the Basics of Exercising
Kitten playing with ball
Engage the cat in play, and that will double up as exercise
What You Do
You either don't give the cat enough exercise or you think that it can only exercise outdoors.

Why to Avoid This
Not giving the cat enough exercise might cause it to develop several health issues. Another misconception is that a cat can only get exercise outdoors, which might actually be dangerous for kittens.

What You Should Do
You can engage the cat (a young cat especially) in exercises at home if sending it outside is dangerous, or if it does not get its stipulated exercise outside. You can do this with the help of a string or other objects like a plastic ball. The main objective is that it gets its exercises.
Bathing the Cat
Cat scared of bath
The cat will avoid the bath as much as it can
What You Do
You regularly bathe your cat.

Why to Avoid This
Cats do not enjoy a bath. It scares them. So, do not bathe the cat just because you feel like it, and definitely do not do it regularly as it could wash off the essential oils from its coat and dry out the skin.

What You Should Do
Cats love to keep themselves immaculately clean, and do this by constantly cleaning themselves with their tongue and teeth. Their fur does not smell like a dog's might either. So, they are normally clean creatures who do not require a regular bath. But in case the cat steps into muck or the coat gets stained, you could bathe it with warm water. Speak to your vet in case of any doubts.
Not Learning the Cat-Child Equation
Toddler fascinated with black cat
Prepare the cat and the baby for each other
What You Do
You give away the cat thinking that it is not safe to keep it around a child, or you do not take the necessary precautions to prepare the cat and baby for each other.

Why to Avoid This
Whether it is case of the baby catching an infection or the cat not adjusting to the baby, both these can be dangerous to the cat and the baby's health.

What You Should Do
In case proper precautions are not taken by a pregnant woman, it could result in the development of the parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis, which can lead to complications in pregnancy. This can best be avoided by maintaining high standards of hygiene in the house. Toxoplasmosis cysts are shed off through the feces of infected animals, so it is best to clean any surfaces that might come in contact with the feces. This includes cleaning the litter box regularly, cleaning the surfaces that might come in contact with the cat, and washing your hands after having come in contact with the cat. Speak to your vet about other stringent measures that can be adopted.

It is also important to prepare the cat for the new arrival by playing child noises, or shifting its litter box gradually to another room.

Most importantly, keep a close watch on the child and the cat, once the child is born and grows older. The same hygiene should be maintained for both, the cat and its surroundings. Do not allow the child to get too close to the cat until and unless they are familiar with each other.
Not Taking it for Regular Checkups
Regular check up for cat
Regular checkups are a must to avoid health complications
What You Do
You think that once the cat has been given its shots, it's all taken care of.

Why to Avoid This
Many cat diseases and health problems can be avoided with regular checkups.

What You Should Do
Speak to your vet, and schedule a regular health screening program. Along with checking on any change in behavior with the vet, a regular checkup will go a long way in allowing the cat to lead a disease-free and healthy life.
Understanding the needs of your cats is not only encouraged, but also expected, because this will go a long way in helping avoid the common mistakes that new cat owners are likely to make. Besides, which cat owner would want their precious cats to suffer like this? Not one, not one.