New Cat Shopping List
Congratulations on your new cat! While welcoming a new cat doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on supplies, there are some basics, such as litter box supplies and food bowls, that you need right away. Most of the other supplies can wait, but half the fun of having a new cat is spoiling him. Consider these items for your shopping spree:
- Litter Box: A covered litter box with a filter on top helps minimize odors while giving the cat privacy. It should be large enough for the cat to stand or sit up straight in and turn around. Make sure the lip isn't too high for a small kitten. You should have at least one litter box per cat in the household, and then add one extra. If you have a large house, a couple of litter boxes placed in opposite ends will be appreciated. Always leave at least a couple of inches of litter in the box, and scoop often, to help combat odor.
- Litter scoop: Bigger scoops make cleaning faster.
- Kitty litter: Most cats prefer unscented or at most, lightly scented litter. Clumping litter makes cleanup fast and easy, but is not without controversy. Some people believe that when cats lick themselves and ingest the litter, the sodium bentonite clay in it swells (up to 15 times its original size, according to one source) and then hardens, possibly blocking the intestinal track. They also worry that dust the cat inhales while digging in the litter enters the lungs and causes harm. Others point out there's never been any scientific evidence to support these ideas. As a compromise, it's suggested you don't use clumping litters with kittens under 6 weeks of age, and choose one that produces as little dust as possible for adults. If you see litter stuck to your cat, brush it off before he can lick it off. Place the litter box where your dog can't reach it, as dogs like to eat cat feces and end up ingesting litter along with them.
- Food and water bowls: Make sure bowls are wide, not deep, as cats don't like their vibrissa (whiskers) to touch any edges when they eat. Ceramic bowls can be microwaved along with leftovers, and are less likely to irritate your cat's chin than plastic bowls. Self-feeding or watering bowls are handy, but must be cleaned just as often as regular bowls.
- Carrier: A cat carrier is the only safe way to take your cat places, including the veterinary clinic. A plastic crate is easiest to come by; it's sometimes easier to load cats in through one with an opening on top, although some cats are uneasy with a wire top. Just place a towel over it if that's the case.
- Scratching post: You can buy one or make one yourself out of some wood, carpet remnants and sisal rope, but store-bought ones are ready to go and will still save you money compared to the damage your cat's claws can do to your furniture. Get one tall enough for your cat to reach up and stretch while scratching. Make sure it's stable and can't fall on your cat.
- Cat tree: A luxury item, a cat tree offers multiple perches at different levels, some open and others enclosed. Place it near a window for the ultimate cat lounge. Make sure it cannot fall over no matter what.
- Cat bed: Some cats enjoy sleeping inside a snuggly soft bed, but before spending your dollars on an expensive version, first see if your cat likes to sleep in enclosed places. The best beds are washable.
- Claw trimmer: Although you can use human nail clippers, most people prefer clippers designed for cat claws. You can also buy some styptic powder to stop bleeding for the occasional time you miscalculate and cut into the quick.
- Soft bristle brush: A brush is essential for all coat types; shorthaired cats also benefit from a rubber curry brush that helps pull out dead hair; longhaired cats need a comb or pin brush.
- Toys: Get a variety, but start with the feather-on-a-stick type, which are big favorites. Catnip toys are popular with many cats. Laser light pointers can also provide lots of entertainment, as can remote-control mice. Interactive toys that let cats bat at items on springs or fish for items in a box can provide entertainment when you're away. Rotate toys to keep your cat entertained.
- Kitty greens: For indoor cats who look longingly at the plants outside, you can grow a tiny garden of favorite cat greens indoors. This will save your houseplants from becoming appetizers.
- Collar: Collars hold identification should your cat get out. But because cats can snag collars on branches and other things, collars should have a safety feature that enables them to either stretch enough to slip over the cat's head or have a latch that comes undone when tugged.
- Harness and leash: The time to train your cat to walk on a leash is now. Use a harness, not a collar.