basket of 4 tabby kittens

A Guide for First-Time Cat Owners

by Sam Salvati - 7/1/20

For new cat parents, it may seem impossible to communicate with your new, shy friend.

In order to communicate best with our pets, we must learn the nuances of their body language and signaling. Here are a few tips on cat behavior to make cat ownership easy.

Emphasize Litter Box Training

tiny kitten in a crate

Cat litter box training is one of the most important aspects of cat parenting. Although, when executed properly, cats pick up on litter training quickly, many owners struggle to figure out how to litter train a cat.

Most specialists actually recommend having one extra cat litter per cat, despite typical cat parenting practice. Also, consider the size of your cat when choosing your box. The box should be big enough for your cat to dig around with some space to spare. Make sure you place the box in a quiet but convenient location, and the cat litter you choose should be unscented and fine-grained.

Deter Bad Cat Behaviors

sad kitten

Cats are naturally well-behaved, so when they start developing bad habits, it's usually due to poor parenting.

If your cat continues to pee outside the litter box, try emptying and cleaning the box more frequently. There are many tricks to get your cat to use her litter box.

If your cat keeps scratching up the furniture or curtains, invest in cat scratching posts and toys. Cats scratch as a form of bodily hygiene, so if they don't have proper scratching equipment, they'll resort to the contents of your home.

Try out multiple scratching posts in order to find the perfect one for your cat.

Create the Right Environment for Your Cat

Another aspect of cat training is keeping your fuzzy friend mentally and physically stimulated. House cats still have many traits of their wild ancestors, including the inherent desires to hunt, climb, and scratch.

These desires can be satisfied by providing your kitten with interactive toys. Toys that have puzzles or hunts can achieve the mental stimulation that hunting brings and house life lacks. There are also many ways to feed your cat that can fulfill the environmental enrichment that cats need.

Cats also seek isolated perches and resting spots, which can be purchased at local pet stores.

Understand Your Cat's Signals

scared kitten hiding

Cats rely on body signals to communicate. As a pet parent, you must understand these signals in order to understand your cat. Cats often signal when they sense a risk, feel anger or fear, or experience pain.

When your cat has an arched back, tucked back ears, a stiff tail, or keeps hiding or climbing, she is likely signaling fear, anger, or discomfort. If this is the case, keep your distance instead of trying to comfort her.

The most important aspect of understanding your cat's signals is the ability to stay in tune with your cat's health. Contact a veterinarian if you notice any behavioral changes, such as hiding in an unusual place.

Pasadena native Sam Salvati is the adoring dog dad to Pablo, Ester and Farris. He enjoys keeping abreast of and writing about the latest developments in pet care.