Make sure you don’t put too much on your new pet by reading these straightforward tips that’ll help you mend the heart of your new pal.

1. Be patient

Wanna grab and cuddle your new cat? Don’t get mad when it attacks. Or do get mad, but keep it to yourself because this isn’t just your home anymore. You’re sharing the space and making it feel safe for any and all inhabitants.

You’re going to have to put food and drinks away, or keep an eye on them lest your pet dig it’s nose/paws in it. It’s an annoying, quick adjustment. And it’s not the end of the world if you forgetas long as you know what your pet is allergic to so that nothing you leave out can potentially harm them. Or, hey, just be cleaner.

2. Let them explore

This one is a constant. But especially the first month or so. Let your pet see every corner of the apartment to cure their curiosity. (Note though, that if you’ve got a cat, it’ll never be cured. It’ll touch everything all the time and that’s just fine. It makes them fulfilled in their daily cat lives, so try not to get frustrated when you open the fridge and the cat jumps in, or when you try to wash your hands and the cat jumps in the sink. It’s cute. Just remember it’s cute, and you’re lucky to have them. And you don’t know their past so make their present as amazing as possible and let them. Just let them.)

Another note: This “let them” is advice from hours of research on training a cat—I don’t recommend this approach for dogs. I will also say that I had to get to know my cat‘s personal habits in order to meet him halfway, and each cat is different. Some constants though: I make sure my cat doesn’t jump in the oven or sleep in my room—after weeks of no-sleep, I realized that we needed some boundaries for my own health—but I’ve adjusted to the fact that he’s going to jump on my bookshelves and that’s how cats are. To have a loving relationship, you can’t punish your pet for habits it formed at birth or during it’s years before you.

A final note on this: I got my cat at nearly 4. If you’ve adopted a kitten, you may have more luck showing them places you would not like them to go. This guy is a great resource for cat troubles. 

3. Have the essentials

Make sure you’ve got the essentials before you bring your pet home, and then see how he’s adjusting before deciding if you need to get anything more.

We’re talking:

  • Food and water bowls
  • A collar and leash/harness
  • A place, or plan in place, for bathroom times
  • Toys
  • Breakable or harmful items out of the way (at least in the adjustment period)
  • A cat tree or box ready to make your cat comfortable (highly recommend)

4. Give it time

Time plays a key factor. You may expect things to be perfect right away and your life to go on normally, but the blessings of having a pet also come with some trials. There may be vomit when changing food brands, bathroom messes, a new routine for you to remember to clean and play with your new friend every day.

DO NOT buy a pet and neglect it. If you’ve got time to read this post, you’ve got time to go wave a feather in front of your cat.

5. Watch your mood improve

My cat watches me wade through important papers. When I’m done and have them neatly sorted, he hops onto the stack, kicks each paper off the counter one by one, and stares at me for a reaction. I’ve since put my important paperwork in drawers.

I’ve endured various escape attempts by my hamster and cat. The most notable is my hamster Abe breaking out of her cage to play tag with my cat. I’ve mediated far too many Tom- and Jerry-like chases.

I went on my first road trip with a cat, and Franklin broke out of his overpriced kennel (designed for his comfort, like the spoiled boy he is). He sat on my feet while I was driving on the interstate. We had to make an emergency stop, buy a more secure/less luxurious kennel, and make the arduous drive home while his wail filled the car. (So dramatic, he is. He’s definitely my cat.)

But, really, everything is better. I’m learning patience, cleanliness, compassion, care… I love being at home—more than the usual amount, which is saying something because I love home. I love cuddles and his indignant meows when I haven’t read his mind about something he wants. I love the slow close of his eyes after a play session. I love going to bed knowing that I have a constant companion. I love that my cat knows when it’s morning and sits by my door patiently, ready for morning snuggles.

To be honest, new pet owners, by the time you think back on how much effort it’s taken, you’ll be so in love with your pet that you don’t even remember the struggle.

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