Welcome to the ranks of worried cat owners. You are not the first and definitely won’t be the last. As a pet owner myself for any years, keeping and caring for a new pet is challenging. You will have to make some changes in your life than expected or anticipated.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or have feelings of anxiety, rest assured that it is totally normal. I’ve had many cats and other pets throughout my life and each one was a learning cure on its own.
The new cat owner anxiety mindset can happen to any new cat owner but it mostly strikes someone who has little experience with cats. This will cause the owner to feel emotions of fear, anxiety, regret, doubt, remorse, etc. It won’t go away completely but it becomes manageable over time.
But what I can promise you is that as long as you are willing to learn and make mistakes, the bond that you will form with your new feline friend is one that you will always remember for the rest of your life.
In this article, we will address some of the issues that a new cat owner will face when having a new cat at home. And more importantly, what can be done to help ease the anxiety?
Let’s get started.
What To Expect When Bringing Your New Cat Home?
I have always been an animal lover since I was a little kid. I probably got it from my dad who had a soft spot for animals too.
Growing up, we kept fishes, terrapins, rabbits, hamsters, dogs and of course cats (my personal favorite)
I got my present cat from a cat adoption drive that I happened to come across online. I spent a few good hours at the shelter looking for a cat to adopt and almost left empty-handed. That was until I saw my cat sitting by the window and looking pensively at the world.
It was love at first sight and it still is after 14 years together.
In order to be more prepared and less anxious, it helps to at least know what to expect when having a new cat in your life.
1. Your Cat Needs Alone Time
Cats are creatures of habit and love a fixed schedule. They aren’t the quickest of pets when it comes to adapting to a new environment. When your newly adopted cat is back with you, everything will be unfamiliar to your cat.
New sounds, new sights and most importantly, new smells.
Cats tend to depend a lot on their nose due to their sensitive sense of smell. They will start to feel anxious and insecure when nothing smells familiar to them.
This is when it becomes the cat’s life mission to mark almost everything in its new home with its personal scent. Cats mark their scent on objects by rubbing their faces on them, leaving their scratch marks and even by using their pee.
Don’t expect your cat to be all playful and affectionate with you for the first few weeks at least. Give your cat a separate room to slowly ease into things. Your cat might even be hiding for most parts of the day, only coming out to eat and use the litter box.
As it grows more confident, it will start exploring more and more of its new home until your new found feline companion is the new owner.
2. Your Cat’s Toilet Habits
New pet owners need to be ok with the fact that their new cat might not start using its litter box right away. Given that it is still feeling anxious and insecure, it might pee or poo in an area that is very private like under the bed or in your shoe.
If you are keeping your cat in a room for now, make sure to have a litter box in there so that it’s convenient for the cat. What I did was carry my cat and plonk it down in its new litter box. Once he started digging in there, I knew we were both golden.
Try not to let your new cat use your old cat’s litter box as it might start to create territorial issues between them. Each cat should have its own litter box.
Don’t get angry with your cat if you happen to find its waste around the house. Just keep directing it to the litter box and it will get the message soon.
Another important is to scoop out the soiled litter at least once a day. Your cat is more inclined to use its litter box if it’s nice and clean. You wouldn’t be too keen on using a dirty toilet yourself.
3. Your Cat’s Age
I have had cats that ranged from tiny kittens to senior citizens. And it was usually the kittens that gave me new cat owner anxiety most of the time.
Kittens do need a lot of special care and attention from their owners, especially if they have been orphaned and are still milk-dependent.
You need to feed your tiny cat once every few hours and then encourage it to poo and pee by using a warm cloth and rubbing its bottom. This is what its mother would do until her kittens are about 3-4 weeks old.
Keeping your kitten warm is also very important as young cats can’t regulate their body temperature until 5 weeks of age. Hypothermia is the leading cause of death for kittens and we definitely do not want that happening to your cat.
If you are adopting a young kitten, you need to be prepared to be its mother. Kittens will be crying for their mother frequently till they reach 12-15 weeks of age.
Unless you can commit to giving a kitten the proper care it needs, you should just go for an older cat.
4. Your Home Will Never Be Totally Clean
Truth be told, as someone who has OCD when it comes to cleanliness, this aspect of pet ownership affected me the most.
Almost to the point of regretting keeping pets on some occasions.
Regardless of how old your cat is, it will still behave like a kid. Which means it is good at messing up stuff and getting into trouble. In fact, studies have shown that cats have the mentality and intelligence of a 2-year-old. And one thing that kids do well is to mess up the house.
Expect to find cat hair everywhere as well as cat litter that is distributed all over the house when it gets stuck between your cat’s paws.
I’ve found raw meat in my shoes and poop stains on my brand-new bed sheet. My cats have broken a few of my stuff and I’m missing one side of my ear plugs which I think my cat ate many years ago.
5. Your Cat Will Get Sick
We humans fall sick from time to time and so do our cats. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve brought my cat to the vet since day one.
I always dread bringing my cat to the vet because he hates it there and I am anxious about something bad happening to him.
I get IBS a few days before the vet appointment and it gets a lot worse on the day itself. But my cat has always been strong so that puts me at ease.
If you are a worry wart like me, vet visits with your cat might take it up a few more notches.
6. Keeping A Cat Costs Money
I don’t think many pet owners give careful thought about the actual cost of cat ownership before adopting or buying one fr0m a breeder.
Not including the cost of buying a cat from a reputable breeder, there are ongoing monthly costs like food and litter. Adhoc costs will include stuff like toys, cat furniture and vet visits.
I don’t keep the exact receipts on my cat expenses but it’s roughly about $1000-$1500 a year. This cost can skyrocket if your cat needs any form of expensive medical treatment.
It is best to consider pet insurance if your cat is still young and healthy as insurance can help cover some of the medical bills. I’ve heard stories of pet owners who had to give up or euthanize their cats because they couldn’t afford the vet bills anymore.
Sad but true.
Please have a proper think about your own finances before getting a cat. There’s no point in being anxious about money and worrying about how you are going to pay for your cat’s vet bill or next meal.
How Long Does A Cat Take To Get Use To Its New Owner?
To set some realistic expectations, it does take a few weeks for a cat to warm up to its new owner. Kittens might take a quicker time to bond since they are so dependent on their pet parent.
Adult or older cats who are more set in their ways can take a longer time. It also depends on the personality and breed of the cat.
Can Cats Pick Up On The Owners’ Anxiety?
Oh yes, they most definitely do. Many studies have found that cats tend to mirror our moods and emotions.
Owners who are always anxious had cats that developed stress-related sickness and tend to have unprovoked aggression.
Owners that are more emotionally well adjusted and sociable had cats that behaved in a similar fashion too.
What can we learn from this?
If you spend most of your days having negative thoughts like “Can I take care of a little life?” or “What if we end up hating each other?”, your cat will be able to pick up on the negative emotions coming from you.
To keep your cat at ease, make it point to spend time bonding with it through grooming and playtime. Speak to your cat lovingly and gently.
Let your cat know that you are secure and confident as its owner and it will follow suit. Cats look to us for security and comfort.
Can I Leave My Cat Alone At Home?
Many new cat owners are very anxious when it comes to leaving their cats alone for the first time. The majority of us have to work during the day which means having to leave our cats alone at home for a good 8-10 hours.
If your cat is still a kitten that is dependent on you, it isn’t a good idea to leave it alone for so long. An hour or so is ok but not longer than that.
Adult cats are more suited to being left alone as they will sleep most of the day away. All you have to do is get a good automatic feeder to feed your cat at timed intervals so that it won’t get hungry while you’re at work.