Congratulations on your new fluffy addition! Becoming a new paw parent to a kitten or cat, really does enhance your life in so many ways - from their affectionate natures, their individual personalities, their comforting purring, and the fact they are probably the creature which will rule the house.
But, as a new cat owner, what are the essentials you really need so your cat can enjoy their new home, and you can enjoy your cat? Below, you will find a checklist of essentials to think about so you have a happy cat.
A Cat Carrier or Crate
First of all, how will you get your cat home? Of course, it is possible to simply bring your cat home in a box, providing that it has proper ventilation, but it can be dangerous, particularly if they escape when you are driving.
They will be much more secure in a carrier. Plus, you will find that you need a carrier for check-ups, vaccinations, and any treatment needed at the vet as well as any trips you want to make with your new pet. You can choose from a plastic carrier with hard sides, or one made from toughened fabric, which is more like carrying a bag.
Bowls for their food and water
Your new pet will, of course, need food and water. So, make sure they have their own bowls to eat and drink from. You can choose from a cat feeding station, which has bowls for both food and water, or opt for individual bowls. You may also wish to choose a feeding mat to place under the bowls. This will keep the bowls secure and stop food from being spread across your floor.
Once you’ve chosen a set of bowls, you will need food to put in them! You can choose from either wet food or dry food - there are pros and cons for both choices. For instance, your cat may benefit from the higher water content of wet food, or they may have healthier teeth through chewing dry food or kibble. Many owners opt for a combination of the two. If you are bringing home a kitten, make sure you choose a food especially for kittens, as this contains more calories and vital nutrients for growth. Conversely, if you are adopting an older cat, a senior cat food could help them to maintain optimum weight while supporting joint care.
A Litter Tray, Litter and Scoop
When they’ve eaten that food, they are going to need somewhere to poop. Thankfully, cats are naturally clean animals, and like to bury their waste. So they will soon learn where their litter box is. You can choose from an open-sided litter tray with a rim to keep litter in, or a litter box with a lid which will contain litter and odours. You will, of course, need some cat litter to put in it. Also, keep a litter scoop handy to clean out the tray.
Cats have a natural desire to scratch, and it’s important to give them a place where they can do so, without having to resort to scratching your furniture. You can choose everything from a fairly simple scratching post to begin with, to a cat tree or tower which incorporates scratching areas with places to rest or sleep.
Even if your cat is an indoors cat or is microchipped, it can still be a good idea for them to wear a cat collar. If they do get out, or if your cat is free to come and go as they please, a collar will immediately indicate that your cat is not a stray. Many owners worry about their cat’s collar becoming caught in something, particularly if their pet loves to climb, but you can choose quick release collars which open if your cat is stuck.
Collars can also serve other useful purposes, such as being reflective so your cat can be seen at night, preventing fleas, and warning birds and mice that your cat is nearby through the use of a bell, if you would rather your cat didn’t bring home little “surprises”.
A Cat flap
Will your cat be an indoors cat? Or will they also be allowed to go outdoors? If you are opting to give your cat freedom to explore your garden or neighbourhood, then a cat flap is a good idea to ensure you aren’t constantly opening and closing the door for them. It is generally wise to keep your new cat inside for at least two weeks so they can get used to their location. After that, you will be able to let them use their cat flap. You can always choose a lockable cat flap if you would prefer them to stay home at certain times.
While cats are naturally good at keeping themselves clean, you can give them a helping hand. Brushing will give their coat a healthy shine as well as removing excess hair and helping to prevent hairballs from forming. Most cats won’t need their claws to be trimmed, particularly if they are outdoor cats. But, if you have a cat who doesn’t scratch very much to keep their claws neat and trim, or your cat is elderly and isn't as active as they used to be, you may also need a pair of cat nail scissors so you can trim the ends off their claws.
There are all sorts of toys you can choose from including toys containing catnip, balls that dispense treats as they play, and interactive games you can play together. Of course, toys aren’t a necessity in the same way as food or water, but they are important for your cat’s mental and physical wellbeing, as well as helping to create a bond between you and your new pet.
Once you have all of your essentials together, you will be ready to welcome your new cat to your home.