Advice for first time cat owners 

Welcoming a new pet into your household is such an exciting and enriching time, but it’s important to be prepared.
close up of cat looking inquisitively at the camera

Here are some of our essential tips for first time cat owners.  

Before you adopt 

Cats make wonderful pets, like people, they have their unique personalities and quirks. Before you start looking for your new family member, it pays to think about what you’re looking for and examine your expectations.  

We highly recommend rehoming a cat from a recognised animal welfare organisation like the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. If you do decide to buy rather than rehome, do your research and only buy from a reputable breeder. It’s also important to research breed characteristics and breed-associated health issues so that you know what to expect, for example, Bengal and Oriental cats are known to be very vocal.  

Questions to ask yourself 

Kitten or cat? 

It can be very tempting to want to adopt a kitten, they are undeniably sweet! But an adult cat might actually be more suited to your needs.  

Kittens are a lot of work and can be very demanding. Cats also don’t generally develop their adult personality until they are about one year old so it’s hard to know what your kitten will be like when they grow up. If you do decide to get a kitten, the PDSA have some good advice to help you.  

If you’re looking for a more laid-back kitty, we strongly recommend rehoming an older cat from a shelter as they know each of the cats’ personalities very well and can help you find a good match.  

Indoor or outdoor? 

The next big decision when it comes to bringing home a cat is whether you will let them outside or not.  

If you are adopting a cat from a shelter like the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, they will let you know if a cat needs to be kept indoors or would be better suited as an outdoor cat.  

If you live near a busy main road or don’t have a garden, an indoor cat might be the best match for you. Think realistically about your home environment and if you have any questions, the rehoming team at the adoption shelter can help you.  

There is no right option when it comes to indoor vs outdoor cats. Outdoor access provides a lot of mental and sensory stimulation exercise for cats, but there are hazards such as traffic and poisonous plants or substances for a cat to contend with outdoors.  

Some cats simply prefer to stay indoors. These cats do need a little more attention, including sensory toys and plenty of playtime to keep them entertained and healthy.  

close up kitten playing with a ball in a patch of sunlight

Bringing home your new pet as a first-time cat owner 

Once you’ve thought about all of this, and you’re ready to bring your new family member home, here’s how you can prepare for the first few weeks at home.  

Introducing a new cat to your home 

First and foremost, it’s important that you provide a safe, secluded and private space to help them settle in. We recommend introducing your new cat to your home gradually by keeping them in just one room until they feel comfortable enough to explore.  

In the room, make sure they have access to essential items like food, water and their litter tray. You should also provide them with a hiding spot like a cardboard box and plenty of toys and blankets. Our cattery team also recommends using pheromone sprays or plugins such as Feliway or Rescue Remedy which can help cats to relax. 

Once they seem confident and happy, you can start letting them into other parts of the house to explore.  

What you need 

It’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of bringing your new friend home and end up spending a fortune on things you don’t need. Trust us, you don’t need fancy toys and gadgets to be a good cat owner so save your pennies!  

Here’s a short list of essentials that you do need:  

  • A comfortable-sized litter tray for your cat, and some litter (try to use the same litter as they are used to if possible)  
  • Food bowl, water bowl and cat food – the rehoming team can inform you what your cat has been eating to avoid any tummy trouble caused by suddenly switching diets  
  • Blanket and toys – if you rehome from us, we will share some of their favourite things to help them adjust to their new home 
  • A brush 
  • Scratching tower which they can climb on, cats often feel safer in high spots 
  • A cosy, comfortable cat bed  
  • Sturdy and well-ventilated cat carrier  

Other important things to consider 


Ensure your cat’s microchip is updated with your contact details. 


It’s best to take out insurance for your pet while they are young and healthy as it can become expensive to insure them later on if they develop any conditions. All animals rehomed from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home are covered with four weeks of pet insurance from PetPlan to allow you time to research your options.  

Vaccinations, flea and worming treatments:

These are all added costs that are important to consider when rehoming or buying a cat. These treatments help keep your cat safe and healthy, especially if they can roam outdoors.  


If you’re getting a kitten, we would advise you to get them neutered as soon as they’re old enough to do so. This has many health benefits and avoids unwanted pregnancies, especially in outdoor cats! Most shelters will neuter the animals in their care before rehoming them, but we recommend double-checking this just in case.  


Think about who will look after your cat when you go away on holiday. Do you have family members who are able to care for them or will you be using a cat sitter or cattery? These are all extra costs which will factor into your holidays  

Ready to rehome? 

We have some lovely cats looking for someone to love them forever, could this be you? 

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