Previously we’ve been talking a lot about steps you should take before getting a kitten, like asking yourself whether you are ready for one, teaching you what to look for in a reputable breeder, how to make your house safe for your new kitten and several more.
In this article we want to guide you through a shopping list of stuff and accessories your cat will need. We do not want to give you a plain list of stuff you will need, but are going to explain details so you do not end up buying crap you do not need, and, in some cases, will explain why you do need the stuff or accessories we recommend, if it’s not obvious already.
Choosing a cat litter box
Litter box is a necessity for indoor cats, and, yes, an outdoor cat may also benefit from having it.
Besides, you should consider having more than one box for your cat. There’s a general suggestion you should have two boxes for one cat, three boxes for two cats, and so on. It’s general, but works in most cases well. You may read more about number of litter boxes your cat household needs here.
If you are acquiring a kitten, you may get him one litter box appropriate for kittens, with low edges for easy access, and one box that will suit his adult life.
For adult cats, we recommend a large, open litter box, with higher edges (or shield) so the litter is not dropped out by your cat raking it. If you want to go for a covered litter box, be aware, there are some disadvantages of those, however, if you will have one cat only, who will be using it since the kitten age, and, important, if you clean if frequently, he may not mind at all. However, to understand what to expect, you should read our article about covered litter boxes here.
Very good advice is to get a large plastic container with high edges and cutting one of them shorter for entrance. First, it helps to contain the litter in the box. Second, your cat will benefit from larger box. Read more about desirable litter box sizes here.
How to choose the right cat litter type
Now, you will need something to fill the box with. Choosing the right litter may be as easy as picking the most popular brand at your pet store, or may be testing and testing of several types till you find the right for your cat.
We highly recommend trying at least few litter types. The easiest way to do it is aligning two boxes together and filling them with a different type of litter. Then you may decide, which is preferred by your cat, and not less significantly, which suit your preferences.
Also, you may try different types of cat litter one by one. However, switching from a litter type to another rapidly, is not recommended. Try to introduce new litter type gradually mixing it with the new one.
If you don’t want to do an experiment, we’d recommend choosing a regular, non scented litter, with fine particles. Most cats like a regular clumping litter, however, it depends on individual preferences.
Water and food bowl
First, don’t go for double station with both bowls in one set. In the natural environment cats rarely choose to drink near their hunting grounds, and, at some level, it may create water aversion in a household environment, as well. So your cat should have separate bowls, placed in different locations, for drinking and eating purposes.
The size of the bowls must be larger than the width of the whiskers of the cat, as many of them don’t like whiskers touching the edges. However, you should not go for much larger than that, either.
Depth of the bowls necessary may vary due to individual preferences, but it must be comfortable for the cat to eat or to drink, so they do not stick their head very deep in it, or do not have to lick the bottom to get the last drip of water from there.
Next, you may consider getting a cat water fountain for drinking purposes. You see, in nature cats prefer drinking from running water, and this is why household cats love drinking from running faucet and/or toilet seat. It may create a fun enjoyment for your cat.
Also, when choosing bowls, check if it’s not too easy to knock them over accidentally .
Scratching posts for your cat’s needs
Scratching actually is a physiological need for cats. They use it for not only trimming claws, but for stretching, and territory marking, as well.
It is not possible to train a cat not to scratch. However, if you want to save your furniture and carpet, get as many cat scratching posts or pads, as possible (and, as common sense allows).
You will need at least one scratching area in every room your cat will be allowed to enter, however, in many cases, you will need more than that. We hope to write more about cat scratching post placement and training in the future of our series of beginner cat care articles.
Now, what to look for in a cat scratching post?
First, it must be stable. Either a pad that may be attached to a wall, or a post with a larger base. We already mentioned above – cats use scratching for stretching, as well. And, if your scratching post is not able to hold against, your cat may find that your couch is more appropriate for this task.
Height of the scratching post also matters, as your cat may want to stretch to his full length, so, the post must provide this ability, as well. Of course, if you have many scratching areas, not all of them must offer this, but the more, the better. Try placing tallest posts in spots closest to sleeping and playing locations of your cat.
Also, cat scratching post must be covered with a rough fabric, like a rope from sisal fiber, not the nylon one (which will be destroyed faster), or, it may also be naked wood, which many cats prefer due to natural reasons. Carpeted parts are not so well welcomed by cats, besides, may give the wrong idea about carpet being a good place to scratch.
Cat trees, shelves, window perches… in one word – elevations
Cat’s view world in vertical terms. They are hunters and, in some cases, prey, as well. Being on elevations, gives them an advantage over their prey, and provides security from larger predators, and rival cats. And, as it is instinctive, they still crave for being on elevations in household environment, as well.
In order to make your cat’s life more attractive, and to rise his feeling of security, you should create as much elevated locations in your house, as possible.
Easiest solution is cat trees. There is a huge range in sizes, forms and features, and, all you have to do, is choose one that fits well in your house. Besides that, cat trees, usually serve as scratching posts, as well, and, if you read above, you’ll understand what advantages have a large, stable cat tree over a tiny standalone scratching post.
Also, cat trees provide several sitting and sleeping platforms, at different heights, like low, middle and high ones, which is very beneficial in multicat households.
Other good option is a window perch, a platform that may be attached next to a window sill, thus, enlarging it. They usually have a soft surface and are suitable for sleeping or sitting on them. This way, cat gets two advantages, an elevated location, and also an outdoor view. However, expanding your cat’s vertical territory by window perches only is not the best solution, as you still need some locations that are higher than that.
Shelves are another option cat owners may consider. They are a great choice for making both, sleeping/sitting locations and making pathways above the ground level, as well. Have you considered two platforms in different corners of your room, connected with a long shelf? It takes some planning and work from your side, but your cat will love it.
What regards planning, we would highly recommend you starting with few cat trees in different locations, and then, as you see your cat’s personality, you may plan shelves and above level paths for your cat with a greater confidence. Just remember if you think your cat’s personality is being lazy, maybe it’s just he has no fun things to do in his house. Here’s a great article about environmental enrichment for cats.
IMPORTANT, you do not need specific shelf made for cats; however, it must support your cat’s weight, considering, he may be jumping from a shelf to shelf, as well. Also, you may consider covering shelves you install with a soft fabric.
Toys and playing opportunities for your cat
Like said above, cats are hunters, and, in the natural environment, a cat would spend most of his wake time gathering food, that is – hunting.
In the household, the food is provided on a silver plate and requires no exercise at all. This means, the exercise must be carried out in some other form, and, in most common cases, by playing. Skipping this will result in behavior problems, like waking owners at night, vocalizing, or destroying your house.
If you want to provide a full and active life to your cat, you should provide him different types of play. Most appreciated by your cat will be playing with his owner using toys that may be directed by you. Like fishing pole type one, a ball you can roll on a floor, or a simple stick from the bush.
Unfortunately, you can’t be around all the time, so, toys you can hang in a doorway, puzzle toys and even electronic ones may be helpful if you want your cat to receive an exercise necessary.
Where will your cat sleep?
Not all cats require a specifically made cat bed, but, at least you must think of a place where your cat will sleep. Either it’s a simple bed bought at a pet store, or a middle shelf of the cat three you bought for him. It also may be a blanket placed on a table or even a heated bedding for your cat. Research has shown most cats usually prefer hard surface with a soft fabric over it.
Many cats may be extremely pleased if are allowed sleeping in the bed of the owners. We think it’s good allowing it, however, you must stick to your decision – it’s a yes, or a no. Can’t be both ways, depending on your mood and the weather.
No matter which you choose, it is wise to provide several locations, like, in different rooms, different heights, closer, further from radiators (if you have them), with different surfaces, so it is your cat, not you, who gets to choose where he sleeps.
Cat claw trimmers
If you intend to keep your cat indoors, it might be a wise idea to habituate trimming his nails regularly, like once a week or every other week. First, it helps to reduce the damage to your furniture and your your hands. Second, it will save him trouble if he’s a bit lazy with trimming claws by himself.
Nail trimming will require training, as this procedure is not particularly welcomed by cats, however, if you do it regularly, and reward your cat after it, your cat will learn not to mind it. We will write more about cat claw trimming in the future of our series, so stay in touch.
However, if you plan to let your cat outdoors, claw trimming may reduce his abilities to climb trees, that is, it’s a risk to his safety.
We’d recommend not using scissors for this task, but specific animal claw clippers. Those have an opening where you can put the claw in and then trim it. They are easy to operate and may give you additional trimming speed and accuracy if your cat is not so willing to cooperate.
Of course, if you think that claw trimming is still a mission impossible, you may consider taking him to a vet clinic for this procedure. That is, if it’s necessary.
Tools for brushing your cat
Brushing is a must for long haired cats, as they need brushing almost daily. However, wrong is the misconception shorthaired ones does not need brushing. Besides, cats love being brushed (at least most of them), so no matter what’s his fur length, having a comb is a wise idea and can help forming loving relationship with your cat.
For long haired cats, we’d recommend having several pin combs with different width between the pins. Also, in case moths are formed, you may benefit from a comb with blades.
A shorthaired cat will benefit from a slicker brush or a bristle brush, however, a fine comb may be beneficial, as well.
And, also, no matter what is the hair length or color of your cat, you, yourself, may benefit from getting a lint roller for your clothes.
Tooth brush and toothpaste for cats
It’s a wrong misconception that cats do not clean teeth in the natural environment; thus they do not need tooth brushing.
First, in the natural environment, cats do not live as long as in households, so there are less time for the teeth to get decayed. Second, and even more important, diet in nature is much more teeth friendlier (and it actually do clean teeth) than dry kibbles most cats eat nowadays.
Important – get a toothbrush and a paste that is specifically made for cats. Cats do not spit the paste out, like humans do, and a human toothbrush will be too hard for your cat’s teeth.
We’d recommend starting with a toothbrush you can put on your finger, thus, directing it more effectively. There are also some other tooth cleaning stuff, like sprays, wipes, chews and more. They are not ideal, but are still better than doing nothing for your cat’s teeth.
Also, at first, it may seem impossible to clean your cat’s teeth, so, a little training, which we will write about later in our beginner cat care series, will be required. However, if you do it daily, your cat will soon learn to accept it, and it will become easier and easier.
Even though cats prefer not to travel, at some point you will need to take him somewhere. When visiting a vet, for instance.
Get a carrier which is large enough for the cat to turn around in it, and so he can rise his head while lying (remember, if you have a kitten, he will still grow up). You can read more about the best size of the cat carrier here.
Look for a cat carrier that has the ability to remove the top part of it. If you train your cat to accept his carrier, it may make vet visits less dreadful for him.
Also, when you get a carrier, do not put it away, but leave it accessible for your cat, so he does not associate it with vet visits only, which is not a very nice association, by the way.
Identification in case your cat gets lost
Identification is a crucial part in case your cat gets lost. It comes in forms of ID tags attached to a collar, or a microchip. We’d recommend having both for double security. ID tag may fall off, and the chip may not be read by everyone.
Microchipping can be done at most veterinary clinics, and the chip is implanted without anesthesia under the skin with a method, similar to vaccination. It does hurt a bit, though, but not a lot more than a vaccination.
Microchip caries its own unique identification number, so, it is also important that you do input it in a database. Talk to your veterinarian, what databases are available in your area, so the chip has actual value of identifying your cat, in case he gets lost. Chips can be scanned at most vet clinics and pet shelters, so, if a lost cat ends up there, a microchip scanning is performed.
ID tag is a simple label attached to your cat (usually by use of a collar), which carries engraved (or written) information about your pet. In most cases, your phone numbers is the only necessary information, however, outdoor cats may benefit from having your address (person finding it may check if the cat is really lost, or is just wandering nearby), or, for indoor cats, it might be a wise idea stating that this specific cat is an indoor one. In this case, a person finding the cat will have no any doubt that the cat is lost.
Oh yes, didn’t we mention? It’s a common misconception that indoor cats do not need identification. Many indoor cats get lost every year, so, having an ID, may be the crucial part in his return to you, if anything happens.
First aid kit for cats
In case your cat get’s an injury, or anything else bad happens, you should always turn to a veterinarian. However, some occasions may require a faster reaction from your side.
Normally a first aid kit should consist of bandages, sterile gauze pads and rolls, cotton pads, scissors with blunt edges, antiseptic cleaner, hydrogen peroxide and more. In the future, we are going to write more about assembling a first aid kit for your cat, but you may as well buy already assembled one. Just make sure it is intended for pets, not humans.
Also, it will be advisable to attend a course of first aid for pets. It may teach you not only how to help your cat in critical situations, but to recognize whether your cat is not well, and a veterinary assistance might be necessary in lighter conditions.
We hope this article was beneficial for you and you enjoyed reading it, as much as we enjoyed creating it. There may be a lot more cat stuff and accessories you will need at some point or another, but, above ones create a complete list of things you will initially need.
Now, you are ready to bring the new kitten home. Please read our next article in which we will explain you how to introduce a kitten to his new home, so it creates as less stress for him, as possible.
This article is a part of a series about getting your first cat.