Cats make wonderful pets and there’s so much to love about these furry friends. Preparing to welcome a cat into the home and knowing what to expect is important to lifelong companionship. Here are a few tips for first-time cat owners or for those thinking about adopting:

Your Cat Doesn’t Hate You

Every cat has a different personality. Some cats may hide for several days as they adjust to a new environment and others may come out and play right away. If you have a cat on the shyer side, patience is key. Many people find it helpful to keep a new cat in one room for a few days until they warm up to the new space, then expand access to the rest of the home gradually so that they are not too overwhelmed at first.

Kibbles or Cans: What’s Best for Kitties

Most healthy cats can eat both dry and wet food, but the key is making sure that cats have enough water at all times. It is for this reason, that some advocate for feeding cats wet food along with dry because not getting enough water may lead to urinary tract infections. Not sure if you should let food out all day or provided portioned and timed meals? The Cornell Feline Health Center has more information and guidance on the topic and speaking to your vet for advice can help too.

Plenty to Pounce On

Even though cats are often thought of to be aloof, they still like to pounce, hunt and chase. And they also crave human interaction. Toys are an important tool to stimulate their natural instincts and to bond. Just like other animals, or even toddlers, when cats are bored they can engage in undesired behavior, so it is important to provide them with toys like chasers, scratching posts, balls, and stuffed mice to name a few.

Safe Places to Scratch

Having plenty of toys and places for kitties to scratch will help to protect furniture. Declawing should be avoided because not only can it cause lasting physical damage for your cat (it’s similar to amputating your finger down to your knuckle), it can also cause problems with cats using the litter box or biting, according to the Humane Society. In fact, New York was the first state to pass legislation banning declawing and many other states are considering doing the same. Instead, there are several ways to protect furniture through coverings, calming sprays, and redirecting scratching to other areas.

Pay Attention to Plants

Houseplants and flowers are a wonderful way to brighten up and energize a home, but some of them can be toxic to cats. Even just a little nibble on a lily, for example, may cause fatal kidney failure in a few days, according to the FDA, so it suggests avoiding bringing these plants into the home. The good news is that there are plenty of houseplants that are perfectly safe for cats. Architectural Digest has some suggestions for plants that are friendly to cats (and dogs!) and the ASPCA has a full list of what is toxic and what isn’t.

Following these tips, visiting your veterinarian for check-ups or any issues, and giving your cat lots of love can help to ensure that you have a B.F.F. (Best Feline Friend) for life.