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Readers Respond: What do you know now that you wish you knew before adopting a cat?

Responses: 16


From the article: Your First Cat Tutorial

The decision to adopt your first cat is a monumental one, both for you and for your new cat, which I hope will be a family member for life. Unfortunately, sometimes people are ill-equipped to know exactly what to expect from the cat they have adopted, because of the lack of preparation.

If you've adopted a cat, you undoubtedly know a lot more about them than you did prior to adopting your first cat, and perhaps made some mistakes at the time. Share your experiences with my readers to help them from making the same mistakes. Please do not ask questions here, but create your own mini-article to help other readers.

Cats Diets

I wish I knew that it is much healthier for cats to be on a raw diet, I would have taken them off of kibble alot sooner then I did. I'm still trying to adjust them to a raw diet.
—Guest tpz1957

That two is better than one.

When I got Spike, they were having a "kitten discount" at the Humane Society--two kittens for the adoption fee of one. At the time, I thought two kittens would be too much to handle, so I didn't get a second. Now I wish I had, because Spike would have a kitty buddy to hang out with while I'm at work, as well as other benefits!

SO many things....

Now that my Spooky has been in Heaven for 22 days, I wish I had known to buy a really good digital camera so that I'd have more pictures of her 17 years with me and that I had copies of the pictures of her that I gave to others. I read in a memorial of another cat that his owner really missed hearing his cat's meow. Perhaps one might want to record that. I regret not paying more attention to Spooky's teeth. She had one troubling her toward the end of her life, but was too risky to be put to sleep to have it removed. I wish EVERYONE going through an illness and euthanasia could know Chaplain Marcus Allison (chaplainmarcus.org) , animal chaplain in Alabama who has helped me through my grief. I'm glad I DIDN'T know how deeply her loss would be effecting me now. I'm glad I DIDN'T know how quickly 17 years would pass.
—Guest jan

I think I'm glad I *didn't* know

I didn't know the challenges involved with feral cats who had been rescued later than 8 or 10 weeks. I thought they would be pretty much like any of the cats we had when I was growing up, and would get over things and be "normal". Well, 6 1/2 years later, there are still issues with them, and it has taken more work than I knew. But I'm so glad I didn't know that beforehand, because I might have been scared away from adopting the sweetest cat in the world, and his adorable (also sweet, but not pure sweet like her brother) sister. They have been frustrating and a joy. More joy than anything.

Moggie Outhouse

A heavily flea infested, miserable looking 5 week old male was literally dumped on my doorstep almost four years ago.I had inherited a cat with the house, a possessive princess, who hated other cats, and was often raped despite being desexed. I did not want this extra cat, and could not spare it much time. In Japan, where I live, unwanted animals are treated like trash at best. Policy is not rehousing, but drowning or gasing after three days. Visiting father to the rescue! He carried the cat in a sling with him, the stairs in the house being so steep, and took the cat to his litter every couple of hours. He would pet and praise him whenever he used the litter, and made sure the cat drank plenty of water. I have never had toilet issues with him, Pepper, even after moving, and although he rarely sees my father, he's the only other human he's overtly affectionate with. They are well worth the effort, and deserve so much better than humans give them.

Food Problems

I had fostered two kittens from birth and had kept them for nine months until they were adopted by a lady that has spoiled them rotten. I fed them a dry brand name kitten food with a few wet treats occasionally. They had been spayed and neutered so no health problems to deal with. I thought I was through having a pet so I gave away everything with them. Then one day a poor, wet and cold feral TNR adult kitty that I have named Rascal adopted me at work. I didn't have a clue as to the many different problems I'd face with feeding this poor guy since he had been feral from birth. I wish I had paid more attention to the labels on the cat foods because I have had to learn by watching Rascal's eating habits that not all is as one would hope inside that bag or can! He will not eat any of the high value foods but prefers a mixed dry food and a small can of wet food along with a few crunchy treats daily. Lesson: read those labels and watch your cat's desires.
—Guest Rascal'sDad

Height Matters

I've had dogs most of my life and was pretty confident if I put breakables up high enough, the breakables were safe. With kitties, there are few "high enoughs" so it brings on a whole new way of decorating our home. :-)
—Guest Debbie

Didn't know

I adopted a purebred Persian 1 1/2 yr old cat from the pound as a Christmas present to myself. Unknown to me, she refused to use the litter box for peeing. I found this out the next spring when the house got warm and it started to smell. I couldn't take her back at that time as a 30 day max for returns. Her tag said the couple that owned her were moving from a house to an apartment. She was declawed and sprayed. I did have her for about eight years until she died.
—Guest Clare


I got 2 cats from my sister. I was broke but had depression and was lonely. I was going to declaw my babies. I'm glad I learned more about this procedure and I didn't do it. Now, 3 1/2 years later I've been rescuing for about a year and a half. I've rescued and placed about 30+ homeless cats(barn kittens who are sick, or strays) and trap/neuter/released about 125 + barn cats. I still have a ton to learn and I'm learning more every day. I do my own distemper vaccines and everything. I wish I had known years ago half of what I know now, although, I have to admit, I would not have adopted to myself so I'm glad I didn't. oh FYI almost any outdoor kitten you take in is going to need abx for upper respiratory infection! helpful tip- If your vet prescribes an abx that is a human one also, get a script and take it to walmart (or another pharmacy) amoxi drops from vet- 25 dollars to treat 2 kits amoxi from walmart-9 dollars for enough for 2 kits
—Guest austin17055

gender confused

i wish i had known the true genders of BOTH my cats (thought they were boys). Furthermore, I wish I'd taken them to the vet immediately. I'm sure I wouldve found out at that point that one is in fact a girl... and is now pregnant.. I NEVER intended - or expected - to be expecting and I'm wholly unprepared for the event (tho it's scary and exciting all at the same time). I feel worse for my baby.. poor attention on MY part put all of us in this position :(
—Guest cat liker

Bengal Cats: Tritrichomoas Foetus

If you are purchasing a Bengal, make sure the breeder provides proof that the kitten has been tested and is TF free. The kitten I bought was infected, and if I hadn't researched his symptoms (foul smelling diarrhea with blood and mucus) online, I would not have known what the problem was. I had a hassle getting him tested and treated because the vets in my area were unfamiliar with this parasite. Meanwhile, he infected my other cat, and I have had to fight with the breeder to get reimbursed for my expenses. It has been a horrible experience. Four months down the road and they are still infected! I believe the breeder knew (or suspected and didn't want to know because of the expense in treating her cattery) and passed him off to me. Fortunately, I got him to the vet within the 72-hour window per the health guarantee. I am afraid this breeder will continue to sell infected cats. Be very careful. INSIST on a vet health certificate and TF test.

Introducing new cat to old cat

I have Fred who is 16 and just lost Stanley who was 5 and died of kidney disease recently. In his memory I adopted a shelter cat, Henry. I brought Henry home, established him in a spare bedroom with litter tray, food/water and bed. For the first 4 days I kept him completely isolated in there, it was hard, as dear old Fred could tell there was "something" upstairs! After fending Henry off from bedroom door (he felt inquisitive and wanted to explore his new home) I waited till Fred was taken to the vets by a friend and let Henry out to roam around the house, getting used to Fred's smell, but making sure the catflap was securely closed! The next evening after work I put Henry in the catbox and took it outside to the garden (keeping the catflap closed). Then I let Fred into the bedroom where Henry had been for now 5 days, he sniffed around and mooched off to have his early evening kip. I brought Henry in the catbox back into the house and released him in "his" bedroom, just leaving


I wish I had known how vocal my newly adopted cat was. Living in an apartment keeps me alert to his loud talking (like an ally cat)
—Guest pegg

Always Learning

I feel like I'm always learning something new. I grew up in a house with cats and thought I new everything. With my current brood, two brothers, I wish I had know a few things... not that it would have prevented me from adopting them - I just wish I had known so I could care for them better. I wish I had known about cats doing better on a animal-protein wet food diet. I've had two gets get stones, and I didn't know until recently how wet food can help with issues like that. I also wish I had known how cats react when a housemate gets sick. My two boys are brothers and when one got sick, the other had a really hard time. He was afraid of his sick brother and jealous of the attention the sick kitty was getting. He stopped eating and started acting aggressively. He also freaks out at the vet now. I wish I had known more about cat behavior and how I could have made that time easier for him. Its a year later and they are both doing much better - time heals and so does love.
—Guest Milo's Mom

I wish I knew....

I wish I had known not to disrupt the life of an older cat with a kitten. The older cat suffered and so did the kitten
—Guest ally

Tme is on your side

When I adopted Oksana as a playmate to Vlad I put them together too quickly. As a result Vlad and her to this day have a sort of love hate relationship. When I got Maks and Kiska I integrated them easier since I had a little more experience. But with my stray girl Czarina it was a different story. I set up my kitchen as HER safe area. I put a screen on the kitchen passthrough and I put a screen to block the kitchen entry. Czarina had been a stray for at least 3 years. Being inside with strange cats and a strange person was very stressful. My doctor suggested prozac. I gave her the prozac for about 6 months and she was in the kitchen on her own for about 4-5. In that time she was able to get comfortable with indoor life and she began trusting me. She also had the opportunity to see the other cats through the screen. Little by little I began letting her out for a few hours a day. After a while she was fully a part of the gang and is a very happy healthy indoor cat.
—Guest Nuria

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