New Cat Shopping List

What to Buy for Your New Cat

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Before you bring your new cat home, or decide to make a stray an indoor cat, there are items to buy and things to prepare. Don’t wait till 3 minutes beforehand. Do this a few days in advance to avoid stress. Here are the bare essentials your cat will need:

1) Food

Call and ask the current owner or shelter what they have been feeding her. Buy that to start with. You can gradually switch her to another brand if you prefer something else. If you don’t have an answer for what’s been previously fed to her, or you have a stray, here are guidelines:


Look for foods with “Complete and Balanced Nutrition” and “for all life stages” on the label. AND foods specifically for kittens. Kittens eight weeks and older can eat dried food but canned food is better.

Adult Cats:

Canned (wet) food is better for cats, but it’s more expensive and doesn’t do anything to help remove tartar from their teeth. Perhaps use canned food for one meal and dry food for another meal. The wet food helps hydrate your cat’s body. Dry food can “help” remove some tartar build-up.

NOTE: You’ll learn there are HUGE debates about what to feed your cat… wet or dry, the brand, etc.

2)  Bowls for Food and Water

You can use ceramic (non-lead-glazed) or stainless steel bowls you likely have in your kitchen or you may want to buy her a set of bowls to call her own. Stay away from plastic material for cats, as some get a chin rash from it. Automatic servers are handy, too.

3) Toys

Cats love playing. The “fishing pole” toy is popular and provides interactive play which helps with bonding. Be cautious if/when she chews or tears off any feathers. Catnip mice, especially the soft plush type that have a refillable pouch, are a favorite. Balls are big hits with cats – make sure the balls are large enough the cat cannot swallow them. Houses, cubes, hammocks and towers are available in all sizes and prices. Cats love climbing up and sleeping in and on these incredibly cool creations. Other game toys are available where the cat can bat a ball around in a contained contraption, step on crunchy material, chase LED lights, and perform a specific action that then releases a treat, plus numerous other fun games and toys!

4) Cat Carrier

A carrier is really important for the human’s and cat’s safety. Never let a cat run loose in the car. She could freak out, jump on your head or get under your feet and cause an accident. For a temporary transport method,  a cardboard box is fine. But for more secure and long-term use,  you’ll want buy a sturdy plastic carrier or a heavy-duty cloth carrier.

5) Grooming Tools

Look for a fine-toothed cat comb and/or a basic brush made for cats. Pick up a nail clipper made for cats. And if you’re really into cat health care, a cat toothbrush and cat/pet toothpaste.

6) Scratching Post or Pad of some sort

Cats want to scratch. It’s a natural act for them. Buy a scratching post. There are basic ones and fancy tall ones. Some have catnip applied or a small toy attached to the top filled with catnip.  Simple cardboard scratchers are available that can hang from a doorknob, be placed against the side of furniture or placed horizontally on the floor.

7) Litter Box & Litter

Look for a litter box that is a decent size with tall sides for grown cats. Some cats toss the litter around as if they have a shovel in there with them! A basic plastic litter box will work fine.  With kittens, they will need a box low enough for them to be able to get in and out, though. Depending on your preference (or the cats), some litter boxes have covers over them for privacy and to keep litter from being flung everywhere. And of course there are the fancy, automatic-cleaning, electrical-type of litter boxes.

Litter comes in several varieties, too. Plant-based seems the safest. Try to look for ones that are as dust-free as possible. Non-clumping tends to be favored, as some worry about cats ingesting the clumping type and it causing internal problems. Fragrance-free is great, too, but everyone will have their own preference and opinion!

Mats are available to place under the box or along side it to catch litter as the cat exits the box.

>>A Bed (Optional)

It’s nice for your cat to have her very own bed to sleep on if she chooses. Perhaps whenever you leave the house, you place her in a dedicated room and if there are no beds, couches or chairs for her to lie down on, then it’s a good idea to offer her a soft, cozy cat bed in that room. Try to find one that can be washed or cleaned fairly easy.