New CAT owner with a few questions????

I recently purchased a CAT Ultimate(here at Audiogon). Being a relative newcomer to high-end audio, I would appreciate a little help. I'm really enjoying this Preamp and I just want to make sure I'm doing everthing possible to maximze the preamp and my enjoyment.

1. I don't understand the use of the phono plugs provided and the loading issues. My system includes a Well-Tempered Reference and a Transfigration Spirit cartridge.
2. The CAT manual mentions the use of tube dampers on certain tubes, thoughts on this.
3. Power cords and phono interconnect for the CAT?
4. NOS for the CAT.
5. The manual mentions grounding issues and floating the system? How important is this?
5. Did I miss anything?

Thanks for any of your thoughts on the above items.
I'm a former CAT SL-1 III owner, and assume the cartridge loading is the same for the Ultimate. You'll need to learn from your Cartridge manufacturer (or someone else who knows) what loading your cartridge calls for, then simply plug in the pair of RCA plugs marked with 100 ohms, say, or whatever it is. Of course you can try different pairs and let your ears make the decision--but it's reassuring to know what's recommended. With no plugs inserted, it will be 47K ohms, at least if it's like the earlier CAT's.
Grandpoobah, I have never owned a CAT, except those with furs of course, so take my remarks as being general:

Cartridge loading:
If you like big and spacious soundstages, do not load, just leave it at 47k ohms. Loading makes a big difference in sound presentation, its a matter of taste. I personally through the years have always gone back to 47k!

Tubedampers: Are worth your trouble mostly, because the soundwaves in your listening room (especially bass) tend to cause microphonics in your tubes, which in a high resolution system is quite audible. There are lots of different kinds on the marktet. Take those which do their jobs, without letting the tubes run too hot, by blanketing the air flow around them, because that causes premature aging.

Wires: Do make a difference , cannot give you any specific ideas there. Generally the XLO, NORDOST, PURIST topliners do very well with tubes. (Inanely expensive)

NOS: Are a matter of taste. If applied judicously, they are a tremendeous improvement. They are rare, they are expensive and there is a lot of fraud. Again, you should hope for CAT owners picking up this thread and try to find a supplier you can trust.

Grounding: This question can safely be generalised. Audibly, there is a subtle and an unsubtle part to it:
The latter first: If you happen to hear a low humming noise, something is wrong with your grounding scheme. Often enough just running a simple wire between you turntable and the grounding post of your preamp will solve this problem.
The subtle part is in the listening: Often it will make a difference in sound stage presentation, coherence, resolution, if you "float" or "starground" your system as a whole or just use the normal gound, as provided by your house wiring. Its a matter of experiment. You will find lots of comments on these topics and other tweaks on the net.
Sorry if I should sound patronizing, I don't mean to, but I would not worry too much about these topics at first, I would just lean back and enjoy...and , yes, welcome to the fold!!
Great info so far, thanks, but is there a simple explanation for loading, it's a new concept for me.
I am a CAT owner...I agree NOS tubes usually are an improvement but with the CAT, they are only different...I tried Telefunken, Amperex, RCA cleartop and improvement...actually slight softening of focus...conclusion: tubes that came in the CAT were an integral part of the "voicing" process for final sound...any others do not match as well...just enjoy the full range, big sound of the CAT as-is...if you want to re-prove you picked the best, just AB with an ARC...pick any...soundstage smaller, no impact, less detail...just less of everything...the CAT is King...goes very well with my Krell CD...if you have experience and know better, please post it...Al
Was A CAT owner for 4years and now have the Aloia. Both are excellent with an edge to the Aloia in the phono stage. Aloia is about half the price
I am a current CAT owner. I have tried a fair number of NOS tubes and decided to use Telefunken 12AX7's in V8 and V9 and Telefunken 6922's in V6 and V7. In V10, I use a less expensive Telefunken 6DJ8. I have tried a Telefunken CCa in V6 and V7, which I liked even better, but I am not sure that it is "allowed". I have asked CAT to research whether this tube is acceptable in those positions. Meanwhile, I am not using the CCa. Other brands I have tried are Mullard, Amperex, Siemens, Tungsram and of course the stock Sovtek 6922's and EI 12AX7's. I think the EI's are excellent for new tubes, but the Sovtek doesn't measure up. With Telefunken, you will get a warmer sound, better bass extension and the preamp sounds more dynamic. The Telefunken CCa adds a little more highs than the Tele 6922. I would say the CAT is quite sensitive to which tubes that you use and you can tailor the sound to your tastes by selecting tubes carefully. As far as power cords, I have tried the ESP Essence, which is in fact, the one recommended by Ken Stevens, the designer of the CAT. I found little to no difference using this cord. I have tried several others and found either little difference or a degradation. But then again, I have no complaints about the sound with my NOS tubes and the stock power cord, except I would like to hear a little more in the upper mids and highs. I know the Tele CCa's will give this to me. Just awaiting CAT's go ahead to use them. CAT is the smoothest, quietest, most distortion free and most musical preamp I have ever heard.
Have owned my CAT for some 8 years now, and had it upgraded to MK 3. the first incarnation was a drag with almost any brand tube at V6 V7 failed at its task.
The MK 3 is much better behaving, i use the Siemens 6922 goldpin at V6 V7 for some time now, with very reliable and great sounding result. also have a good stock of nos 6922 Ediswan, which are great sounding, but not as rugged as the Siemens.
The CAT was and is very sensitive on its tubes.
i never liked any loading on the phono. keep the 47K.
for powercords, tried many but no big results here, so may keep the stock cord. heard many CAT owners with the PS-300 having great results.
always go for an absolute earthing rod in your garden, but this tweak will account for every gear, be tube or SS.
Some dont even prefer the Ultimate over the MK-3, matter of taste.. maybe the only preamp worth consideration over the CAT is an Atma-Sphere MP-1 mk2.

I have to agree with superclamp on the MK-3. I didn't hear any difference from the Ultimate to the MK-3. You can probably find a real steal on a MK-3
The idea that there is no difference between the Mk. 3 and Ultimate is far-fetched. I have both, and the Ultimate is clearly superior. In fact, I could hear the difference thirty feet away; the Ultimate simply provides a bigger soundstage, tighter bass.