If you’re caught in two minds over getting a cat, you’ve come to the right place. Our first-time cat owner guide is guaranteed to push you over the edge and walk you gently into the pawsome life of being a feline parent. Welcome!
Benefits of owning a cat
- Male first-time cat owners might find themselves doing better with the ladies. Pet researcher Dr June Nicolls found that 90% of women perceive men with cats as nicer and more caring.
- Children who live with cats have a lesser predisposition to develop allergies. Exposure to cats boosts their immune systems and protect against allergies to dust mites and grass.
- The healing power of cat purring on your joints and muscles has been well documented and researched.
- Cats are entertaining. It’s no secret that cat videos are amongst the most popular videos streamed on Youtube. It’s just because they’re calming and again, improves your mood.
- Cats don’t smell (as long as you keep their litter box clean) and are suitable for apartments as they’re easier (relatively) to care for.
Unlike dogs, cats are pretty low maintenance, but they are a serious commitment, and you should consider these additional chores/tasks before welcoming one into your family. You will need to allocate time in your day for:
- Feeding your cat
- Clearing out the litter box
- Playing with your cat.
- Experts recommend a minimum of 20 minutes of quality time with your cat a day. The older they get, the more time they’ll need to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
- This also depends if your cat is an indoor or outdoor kitty. Indoor cats would require more time and attention.
Pets, in general, help with anxiety, depression and loneliness. Cats are known to be great companions to introverts and are a perfect substitute for a (human) roommate.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, having your cat with you in bed might improve your sleep. Cats are purrfect companions and help improve your mood and mental health in general.
Studies have also shown that regular interaction with cats can lower stress levels and lead to lowering the risk of cardiovascular events.
While purebreds are known to cost quite a penny to acquire, do keep in mind the high risk they have of developing health conditions, with costly medical bills to follow.
Local breeds are just as cute, cuddly and caring. So, always adopt if you can. You’ll be saving a life as well as giving yourself a whole new one as a parent.
Cat food will cost you about RM50-RM200 a month, depending on the type and quality of food you plan to feed your furry little one. Always bear in mind that the cheaper option isn’t necessarily the better option in the long run.
The cost of owning a cat in Malaysia is dependent on many factors, but mainly health and sustenance costs.
Basic medical costs include spaying/neutering and vaccination. Spaying a cat costs around RM80 - RM300.
A vaccination program costs RM40 - RM80. A kitten usually receives three separate vaccinations initially, followed by an annual booster dose. The common core vaccinations are FVRCP and FELV. The cost of deworming medication is RM8 - RM30.
Long-haired breeds need to be groomed, and each session can cost from RM50 - RM100 depending on the pet salon.
Other accessories that you will need include feeding supplies, toys, litter boxes, carrier bags and grooming tools.
Pet Insurance shouldn’t be overlooked as the cost of medical bills in recent times can be quite draining on the family coffers.
Oyen is a digital pet insurance platform that allows pet owners to purchase pet medical insurance instantly. With its range of policies and extensive coverage, you’ll find all you need to keep your furry one safe and your mind at ease.
These insurance packages will cover vet consultation and surgical fees, diagnostic tests (blood, Xray, Ultrasound), medication, and overnight clinic stays.
Other unexpected costs include the cost of burying/cremating your beloved pet as well as third party liability costs when your pet causes injury or property damage to someone else.
While not as popular with dogs as with cats, getting your cat microchipped is something you should strongly consider, especially if you’re planning to let your cat out of the house to roam about. Check out our piece on everything about microchipping for more details.
A collar with a name tag is also essential. Take a full-frontal photo of your kitty at least once every six months for emergencies.
The first thing any first-time cat owner will probably need to have ready is to set up its personal space. It needs a safe space to sleep and lay about. A bed with sheets and a couple of scratch pillows should do to start with.
Scent soakers like scratch pillows, scratching posts, and cat trees are important for your cat to mark its territory. Cats need to mark their scent everywhere, and they do this by scratching. Scent soakers boost confidence and keep your furniture safe.
Toys are important as playtime is an important bonding time with your kitty. Fishing poles with a toy at the end are always winners. Keep these special toys away specifically for playtime to keep your cats aware of their scheduled time with you.
Of course, stuffed toys are self-play toys that keep them busy when you’re away.
Food is next, and it is recommended to feed your furry friends wet or raw food. Most shelters feed kittens dry food as its cheaper and is usually what gets donated, so you might have a transition period on your hands.
Wet/raw food makes for a healthier and happier kitty. Cats are obligate carnivores, and they will live longer lives when fed the right type of diet.
For food/water bowls, avoid plastic as they are porous and can accumulate germs. It is also a prime cause of chin acne in cats. Use ceramic, pyrex or stainless steel bowls. Yes, they cost more, but you wouldn’t want to stinge on this.
Running water is best for your kitty. It’s fun to watch them play with a running tap but keeping a water fountain has shown to encourage a higher water intake.
Cat-proofing your home is essential. Do as you would for a toddler but do take note that unlike toddlers, cats can reach your ceiling!
Litterbox training is essential. Have more than one box, and the bigger it is, the better.
Avoid hooded covers, scented sand and plastic-lined boxes that just make for a scratch toy.
Get a litter scooper for the daily cleanup and a handy vacuum to clear up the debris around the box.
Get a cat carrier for trips and travel. Give them their favourite treats ONLY in their carrier, so they’re used to it and don’t panic when its time for them to get in.
Myths to Dispel
- A fat cat is a happy cat.
Overweight cats can develop arthritis and diabetes. Do not overfeed your cats. They need to keep active and get enough exercise. Let them out and enjoy a climb out on a tree when you can. Ensure they get a balanced diet, and they will live longer.
- Cats don’t need to be groomed.
Yes, they might not need a bath as dogs would, but cats DO need to be groomed. They need to be brushed often, even short-haired breeds. Plus, they like being brushed.
Touch their paws regularly, so you get comfortable getting their nails out. You need to trim them ever so slightly from time to time. Your furniture will thank you.
For more detailed guidance on kitten care, do check out this roadmap, carefully curated by Hannah Shaw, a New York Times bestselling author and the kittenlady herself. She’s helped thousands all around the world become competent pawrents, including yours truly!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief take on becoming a first-time cat owner and convinced you to take the plunge. We assure you, it’s the best decision you’ve ever made.