Thinking of getting a cat for the first time? Here's what you need to consider, according to a behaviorist

Woman scratching ginger cat on sides of face
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cats can make absolutely wonderful pets! Sometimes characterized as being aloof and not very sociable, felines can be incredibly affectionate and full of fun — though it’s true they can be more independent than their canine counterparts.

They aren’t the most difficult pets to have, either, though you will have to buy a few things, like the best cat bed for your feline! 

And, if you’re thinking of getting a cat for the first time, there are some other things you'll want to consider too. So, if you’re wondering whether it’s time to welcome a kitty into your life, Saba Sayyed, or A Cat Behaviourist, as she’s known on Instagram, has offered some advice. 

“Yes, cats are an easy pet to look after,” begins Sayyed, “However, you need to give them both physical and mental stimulation every day.”

Our feline friends spend a lot of their time asleep, which had us asking the question why do cats sleep so much? It can be genetic, meaning that they sleep a lot in the day and are most active at dawn and dusk. But even though they spend a great deal of the day with their eyes shut, it’s important to make some time to play with your cat — and don’t forget to offer them some toys and enrichment activities!

For physical stimulation, cat wheels and cat trees can be beneficial, while you could even train your cat to walk on a leash for some exercise. And, given that cats are natural hunters, it’s a good idea to incorporate some hunt-like activities into your play sessions. 

On the mental side of things, Sayyed recommends giving your kitty some safe outdoor space for hunting, as well as safe access to windows and balconies. 

It’s also worth considering how big your indoor space is when you’re thinking about getting a cat. “They adjust to living in small spaces or rooms but that is naturally not an ideal living situation for a cat,” explains Sayyed. “It can cause stress and anxiety in cats without any symptoms.”

While cats can certainly live in smaller homes and apartments, it’s important that they have enough space – if you’re short on space, is there anywhere high up that cats might be able to go? 

Cats can jump high and reach most places in the house, so somewhere high for them to hide or watch their humans go by could be good. Likewise, it’s worth knowing how to entertain indoor cats to help keep them happy even if they haven’t got a load of space to explore.  

And, don’t forget that cats are territorial animals – they often like to spread their scent around their territory. They might rub against things, scratch furniture or carpets, or more rarely go to the bathroom to do so – hopefully, your cat won’t, but it’s best to be prepared!

Finally, before getting a cat, you should familiarize yourself with cat body language. Even if you’re a seasoned pet parent, consider that cat body language can differ from that of dogs, for example, so it’s worth brushing up on the basics! 

Not sure which breed of cat is right for you? Don’t forget to take a look at the 32 best cat breeds for first-time owners!

Frisco 61-in Faux Fur Cat Tree & Condo$74.27 from Chewy

Frisco 61-in Faux Fur Cat Tree & Condo
$74.27 from Chewy
Coming complete with a condo, two top perches, sisal-wrapped scratching posts and built-in toys, this cat tree is ideal for single or multi-cat homes.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.