So you’ve decided to welcome a new feline family member to the family — congratulations! Before bringing your new cat home, you’ll want to get everything set up and ready to use. Here’s are the best cat supplies you need to get started:
You’ll probably get a small bag of cat food from the shelter to cover you for the first week or so, and that’s great—it will give you time to observe your cat’s eating preferences and make a more informed decision when selecting among the many cat food options available on the market.
Keep in mind your cat’s life stage, growth, adult, senior or geriatric, when narrowing down the possibilities, and decide if you want to go with dry cat food, wet canned food, or something in between. It’s always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about the best formulations for your cat’s life stage, health, budget and lifestyle.
Food and Water Bowls
Most cats do just fine with plain food and water cat food bowls. If you’re not a “free feeder” but have to be away from home during the day, there are electronic food dishes that automatically dispense fresh kibble on a schedule.
Cat water fountains are good choices for cats who prefer fresh running water over still water in a bowl. (Pro tip: always keep your toilet seat down so your cat doesn’t get in the habit of drinking from that bowl.)
Cat Litter and Litter Boxes
Unless you’re bringing home a cat with a known history, you probably won’t have any idea about his litter box preferences. Some cats like open litter boxes, some prefer closed containers and others have no problem with automatic litter boxes that do the scooping for you. Start simple, and see how your cat interacts with both the litter box and the placement before buying more cat supplies for the .
The type of cat litter you use is also important, and you should consult your own preferences here as well (though the final selection is really up to the cat). Some people can’t deal with the dust of regular clay litter, and some cats don’t like the feeling of silica gel litter. Get small bags of several types (you can choose from clay, corn, paper, gel, walnut, pine, wheat and even grass litter!) and try them out until you find one that suits both of you.
You can even get scented cat litter, but nothing is more effective at keeping odor down than daily cleanings and regular changes. Keep a cat litter scoop near each box, as well as a supply of garbage bags to discard the clumps.
A Crate or Cat Carrier
Most cats aren’t leash trained, so you’ll need a crate or cat carrier to get your cat to and from vet visits. If you have your own car, a hard-sided crate is often easiest; if you’ll be transporting your cat on public transportation or on foot, you may want to opt for a soft-sided cat carrier or backpack to make it less stressful for your cat.
Collar and Leash
For the average cat, a collar is mostly for identification purposes, and the leash for extra security during transportation. If you’d like to teach your cat to walk on a leash, however, use a special cat harness (not a small dog harness).
Cat Trees and Scratching Posts
Having cat trees and cat scratching posts set up before you get home is one of the best ways to keep your cat from getting into the habit of scratching your furniture. You may have to work on finding the best placement for these cat supplies, and sprinkle a few treats or some catnip on them until your cat begins to enjoy using them.
A Cat Bed
No matter how many beds you buy, your cat will probably end up sleeping in your favorite chair or a cardboard box. But you should still get a couple of appropriately-sized, round cat beds with medium or high sides and put them in several places so he can curl up and be cozy no matter where he naps. You can also try a window cat hammock, which makes the perfect spot for sunning and watching birds and bunnies.
Cats are predators, and they love to chase things. Cat wands, small stuffed mice and balls with enclosed bells are fun cat enrichment tools, but your cat might also be pretty happy with crumpled paper, cardboard tubes or empty bags. If you use a laser pointer, do so sparingly; cats can get frustrated at never being able to “catch” the light, and they may redirect that frustration onto you.
The best cat treats are small and stinky. Keep them in their original packaging, and put them inside of another sealed container to extend the shelf life and prevent your cat from opening the bag while you’re not around.
If you’d like to sprinkle catnip around as an extra-special treat, keep in mind that cats don’t develop the taste for it until they’re between 3 and 6 months old; some cats never do.
A good enzymatic pet stain cleaner is more for you than the cat, but it’s an essential part of your cat supply list all the same. If your cat has had a few accidents outside the box, you’ll need some heavy-duty cleaner to get the smell out of the rug, upholstery or floorboards. Removing the scent of past accidents is one of the best ways to prevent new ones.
Of course, your cat should always have regular veterinary visits to stay up to date on vaccinations, checkups and medications. Be sure to check out various pet insurance companies and veterinary franchises to see if it makes financial sense to enroll your cat in a regular health or wellness plan.
DIY bonus: if you’re crafty, try building a cat castle, a catio or hack some flat pack furniture for a fancy litter box enclosure.
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Jamie Damato Migdal, CPDT-KA and CEO/Founder of FetchFind, has been innovating within the pet industry for over 25 years. A sought-after consultant and public speaker, Jamie has built four national pet service companies and has wide-ranging industry expertise in education, technology, business development, sales, marketing and management. Her fourth and current company, FetchFind, provides staff training and engagement, as well as digital marketing and other business solutions, to pet care service and pet-friendly companies around the globe.