There a few basic cat supplies your new cat or kitten will need before you bring him or her home. Some of the cat supplies are essential while others are recommended but not a necessity.
Food and Water Bowls
Bowls ought to be easy to clean and heavy enough so they will not tip over. Some cats are allergic to plastic, so twin stainless steel bowls in a holder are ideal. If you tend to be away often or want to make sure your cat has a constant supply of dry food and water you can use a cat feeder and waterer. For more information on feeding your cat check out our Cat Food & Feeding page.
Litter Box Materials
You will need a litter box, litter, and scoops, even if you expect your cat to eventually go outdoors for his elimination needs. Choose a cat box big enough for a full-grown adult cat and deep enough so that he will not scatter litter around when he scratches. Try to avoid cat boxes with hoods. While they may be attractive for the owner they can trap smells and your cat may not want to use it. To avoid having your house smell like a litter pan remember to use a strainer or sieve, and scoop daily. One thing that made it easier for me to scoop daily (cause we do have lives) was to put a container next to the box that I only had to empty every time I changed the box. Since I lived in an apartment it made it easy for since I wouldn't have to go all the way to the basement and throw out the trash every day. I tried a plain garbage can with a lid but it didn't hold the smell in so my room ended up still smelling. Then I saw a Petmate LitterLocker at the pet store and tried it. This item is like a diaper genie for cats. There is a compartment to hold the scooper and you dump in the used clumps and then turn a dial. This traps the waste in a long bag that keeps extending from a roll in the top. It worked really well and kept the smells in so I did end up scooping everyday just because it was much easier. Although shredded newspaper or sawdust can be used, commercial cat litter is far better. It is extremely absorbent, less messy and easier to deodorize. The type that works best with my cats is odor free, and small grained scoop-able litter. There are many litters you can find that match this description so choose your favorite brand.
You will also need to provide a bed for your pet. Most cats like to have a bed of their own, but don’t be disappointed if he chooses to ignore his new bed. There are several types of cat beds that you can choose from. A nesting bed surrounds your cat and gives them a cuddly place to sleep. These beds are usually made of a firm foam bottom and have walls that extend up the sides. The sides of these beds may extend up only a few inches or all the way around the bed creating a roof. Another type of cat bed is the mat. Mat beds are less bulky and allow your cat to stretch out more when she sleeps. Mats may be placed on your furniture to keep hair off. The third main type of cat bed is the perch. These beds hook to the windowsill and give your cat a roomy place to sleep or just gaze outside. Cats who like to sleep in the sun will also appreciate this type of cat bed. It is not recommended you give your cat an electric cat bed to keep him warm since the cords might be chewed on. There are new self-warming cat beds that keep your cat warm by using its own body heat.
Until you see what your cat’s preferences are, you might not want to spend a lot of money on a fancy wicker basket or plush cat bed. You can start off with a simple, homemade cardboard bed. Get a roomy cardboard box with sides high enough to keep out drafts. Cut out a doorway. Line the bed with an old cushion and cover with soft, washable material for warmth. If possible, use an old sweatshirt for a lining, your cat with be comforted by your scent, which will encourage him to utilize his new bed. Have another cover in reserve. Cats are very particular so make sure the bedding is always clean. Place the bed in a quiet, draft-free corner away from the main traffic in your house.
Cats will play with anything that moves, rolls, rustles, or sways. Kittens and cats are naturally curious and need a supply of toys that are safe and fun to play with. Choose toys made especially for cats – ones that cannot be splintered, torn apart, or swallowed. A celluloid ball that rattles, a catnip mouse or a hard rubber mouse are perfect cat toys. To avoid accidents, some cat toys ought to be used only when you are playing with your cat or kitten.
There are many different types of cat toys to choose from. You can choose toys to wrestle and stalk such as toys mice or stuffed animals. There are many interactive cat toys for you and your to play together. This allows for some great quality time for you and your cat. There are also plenty of cat nip toys to choose from. While cat nip is safe for your cat it does not necessarily affect all cats the same way. Some cats may be calmed or soothed by cat nip while others may be stimulated and excited by cat nip. It is a good idea for you to have several different types of toys available for your cat to play with. It is also important to keep a few toys out at a time and rotate them weekly so that your cat does not get bored.
Toys needn’t be store bought. Use your imagination. Some great homemade cat toys include:
- Ping-pong ball
- Empty wooden thread spool
- Unshelled walnut
- Balled-up waxed paper
- Shoe box filled with some tissue paper
Some items you may be tempted to give your cat could actually be harmful. Keep the following away from your cat:
- Balls of string or yarn
- Rubber bands
- Balls of aluminum foil or cellophane
- Wire twist ties
Also avoid anything with hard, sharp points that can break off. Be wary of cat toys (or items that a cat may see as a toy) that can break. Be careful not to give her anything small made of soft rubber, fur, wool, sponge, or polyurethane. Items that are too small pose as a choking hazard to your cat.
Cat Scratching Post
Contrary to popular belief cats do not use a scratching post to sharpen their claws. They use a scratching post for exercise (to stretch out to their full length), to clean away dead scales from their nails, and to mark their territory, both visually and with their scent. Get a scratching post right away to help train your cat early and avoid having them scratch your furniture.
The scratching post should be tall enough to let your cat stretch out to full length (at least 30 inches) and have a sturdy base. You can make one yourself with some wood and sisal rope or purchase one from a pet store.
Train your cat to use the scratching post as soon as she comes home. Encourage her to utilize the post by playing with her near around the scratching post often. You can also place it near her cat bed since most cats like to stretch upon wakening. She’ll get the idea quickly. To learn how to stop furniture scratching see Cat Behavior Problems.
A carrier is a must for transporting your cat or kitten. It will keep her safe while riding in the car and give her a sense of security. Cat carriers come in many styles and materials such as plastic, wood and wire mesh. Whatever you select, make sure it is large enough for your cat to comfortably move around in. It should also be well-ventilated, secure and easy to clean. When using the carrier, cover the bottom with an old towel. The familiar scent should comfort your cat as she travels to an unfamiliar place.
You will need a flea comb for either longhaired or shorthaired cats, but the type of brush you will need depends on the length and texture of your cat’s coat. Grooming your cat not only keeps her healthy and beautiful, it can help prevent hairballs and reduce the amount of cat hair on your furniture. Start grooming right away so that it just becomes part of your cat’s usual routine. For more in depth information on this subject see Grooming your Cat.
Collar, Leash, and Harness
A harness or safety collar and leash are not a must for your cat, but you might want to get them anyway. It is easiest to train your cat to walk on a lightweight leash when he is still a kitten. A harness is preferable to a collar because most cats do not like the feeling of a collar around their necks for walking.
If your cat roams outdoors he should always wear a “safety” collar with an identification tag. Make sure he begins wearing one early on, so he becomes used to the sensation. The safety collar should be made of break away material, so that your he will not choke if he catches it on a tree limb, fence or other object. There are now collars you can personalized and have your cat's name and your number placed right on the collar.