Embarking on the Journey of Cat Ownership: Essential Supplies to Prepare Before Adopting a Cat
So, you’ve made the exciting decision to bring a cat into your life. Before you set out to the shelter to find your perfect feline companion (or companions), it’s important to consider the essential supplies your new furry friend will need. From nourishing food to engaging toys and a comfortable litter box, proper preparation will ensure a smooth transition for both you and your new cat.
Congratulations on the decision to expand your family and welcome a new cat into your home. Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or have experience with feline companionship, there are essential items you need to check off your cat essentials checklist before you embark on teaching them impressive tricks or capturing their adorable moments for social media. To provide expert guidance, we reached out to Brett Kruger, the feline team manager at the Indyhumane shelter in Indianapolis, who shared his insights on the must-have gear when bringing home a new feline family member. Here are the seven essentials he recommends:
Cat Carrier: An Essential Tool for Transporting Your New Cat
A cat carrier is a vital item you’ll need when adopting a cat, and according to Brett Kruger, a top-loading carrier is recommended. This type of carrier allows you to open the roof, making it easier to place your cat inside without struggling to coax them through a door. Some cats may resist entering a carrier through a door and may struggle as you try to slide them in.
If you already have a carrier with a traditional door that swings out, there’s a simple solution. When it’s time to load your cat, position the carrier on its end so that the door faces the ceiling. This positioning makes it easier to guide your cat into the carrier, minimizing any resistance or struggle.
A cat carrier is not only essential for bringing your new cat home but also for veterinary visits or any other travel needs. It provides a safe and secure space for your cat and prevents them from escaping or experiencing unnecessary stress during transportation.
Ensure that the carrier is appropriately sized, allowing your cat to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Choose a carrier made of durable materials with secure latches and good ventilation. It’s also beneficial to place a familiar blanket or towel inside the carrier to provide comfort and familiarity for your cat during the journey.
By having a suitable cat carrier ready, you’ll be well-prepared to bring your new feline companion home safely and conveniently.
Litter Boxes: Essential for Your Cat’s Bathroom Needs
When it comes to caring for your new cat, providing a suitable place for them to eliminate is a must. The number of litter boxes you’ll need depends on the size of your home and the number of cats you have, as advised by Brett Kruger. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
Number of Litter Boxes: Plan on having one litter box per cat, plus an additional one. For example, if you have two cats, it’s recommended to have three litter boxes. Distribute the litter boxes throughout your home, ensuring they are not placed right next to each other. This gives your cats options and promotes a sense of privacy.
Choosing the Right Litter Box: While you can find traditional litter trays in pet supply stores, Brett Kruger suggests using large plastic tubs and cutting out an entryway for the cat. These tubs are deeper and help contain litter, even if your cat flings it while burying their waste. Keep the lid off the tote, as cats prefer to have a clear view of their surroundings while using the litter box.
Size and Dimensions: Regardless of the litter box style you choose, it should be at least 1.5 times longer than your cat. This allows them enough space to comfortably turn around. Cats appreciate having sufficient room in their litter box to maintain cleanliness.
Litter Choice: Cats’ wild relatives typically eliminate in sandy areas, so it’s best to choose a small-particle, unscented litter. While scented litter may seem appealing, it can be overwhelming for some cats and discourage them from using the litter box. Opt for a litter that is safe for cats and minimizes tracking.
Regularly scoop and clean the litter boxes to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Cats are naturally clean animals, and providing a clean litter box environment promotes their overall well-being.
By following these guidelines and providing the appropriate number and type of litter boxes, you’ll ensure that your cat has a comfortable and inviting space for their bathroom needs. Remember to observe your cat’s preferences and habits to ensure their litter box setup is suitable for them.
Food & Water Bowls: Catering to Your Cat’s Preferences
When it comes to feeding and hydrating your new cat, it’s important to consider their preferences and provide suitable options. Here’s what Brett Kruger suggests:
Separating Food and Water: Some cats prefer to have their food and water placed separately. To accommodate their preferences, provide substantial separation between the food and water bowls. This ensures that your cat can enjoy their meals and hydrate without any discomfort or aversion.
Bowl Type: The choice of bowls depends on both the owner’s and cat’s preferences. Different materials, such as stainless steel, ceramic, or plastic, can be used. However, Brett Kruger recommends a water fountain bowl if the owner is willing to invest a little more and perform extra cleaning. Water fountains mimic running water, resembling a stream or river that cats instinctively perceive as safer to drink from. Many cats are naturally drawn to running water and may prefer a water fountain over a traditional water bowl.
Benefits of a Water Fountain Bowl: A water fountain bowl provides continuous circulation and filtration, keeping the water fresh and oxygenated. This can encourage your cat to drink more water, promoting their overall hydration and well-being. While a water fountain bowl requires regular cleaning and maintenance, it offers the benefit of providing a more enticing and appealing water source for your cat.
Ultimately, observe your cat’s behavior and preferences to determine the most suitable feeding and watering setup. Some cats may prefer a quiet and secluded area for their meals, while others may enjoy the stimulation of a water fountain. By accommodating their preferences, you create an environment that encourages proper hydration and a positive feeding experience for your cat.
Remember to clean and refill the bowls regularly to ensure freshness and hygiene. Providing fresh water and a balanced diet in appropriate quantities are essential for maintaining your cat’s health and vitality.
Cat Beds: Providing Comfort and Security for Your Feline Friend
Choosing the right bed for your cat is essential for their comfort and well-being. Brett Kruger recommends enclosed cat beds that provide a sense of security and mimic the feeling of being surrounded. These cat beds can also double as hiding places, allowing cats to retreat and relax. Some enclosed cat beds resemble cozy fleece cubes, creating a snug and inviting space.
However, cats can be finicky about their sleeping spots and may prefer unconventional choices, such as a cardboard box. Pay attention to your cat’s behavior and sleeping preferences to help guide your decision. If your cat tends to curl up while sleeping, a round bed may be suitable. On the other hand, if your cat enjoys stretching out, a mat or cushioned bed could be a better option.
Consider the location where your cat typically naps. This spot may be the ideal place to position their new bed. However, keep in mind that cats have their own preferences and may or may not use the bed immediately. Patience and observation are key as your cat adjusts to their new sleeping space.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide a comfortable and inviting bed that your cat can call their own. While there’s no guarantee that they will immediately take to it, offering a cozy bed tailored to their preferences increases the likelihood of them using it and feeling secure in their designated sleeping area.
Remember to regularly clean and maintain the bed to ensure cleanliness and freshness. By providing a comfortable sleeping spot, you contribute to your cat’s overall relaxation, contentment, and well-being
Collars: Ensuring Safety and Identification for Your Cat
Even if your cat primarily stays indoors, it’s important to have them wear a collar, as recommended by the American Humane, an organization dedicated to animal safety and well-being. A collar, along with accompanying ID tags and microchip, provides an added layer of protection in case your cat accidentally escapes or ventures outside. With visible identification, there’s a reduced risk of a passerby mistaking your cat for a stray.
When selecting a collar for your cat, it’s advisable to choose a breakaway collar. Breakaway collars are designed to unlatch if sufficient force is applied, allowing your cat to free themselves if their collar becomes caught on a fence or bush. This safety feature prevents your cat from getting trapped or injured in such situations.
Here are a few important considerations regarding cat collars:
ID Tags: Attach ID tags to your cat’s collar containing essential information such as their name, your contact details, and any pertinent medical information. This ensures that if your cat becomes lost or is found by someone, they can be quickly identified and safely returned to you.
Microchip: In addition to a collar and ID tags, microchipping your cat is highly recommended. A microchip is a small device implanted under your cat’s skin that contains identification details. If your cat is lost and brought to a shelter or veterinarian, they can scan for the microchip and retrieve your contact information.
Regular Inspections: Periodically check your cat’s collar for any signs of wear, damage, or improper fit. Ensure that the collar is not too tight or too loose, providing a comfortable fit for your cat.
Remember, it’s important to balance safety and identification needs with your cat’s comfort. If your cat shows any signs of discomfort or tries to remove the collar, consult with your veterinarian for alternative options or adjustments.
By having your cat wear a breakaway collar with ID tags and a microchip, you take proactive measures to ensure their safety and increase the chances of a safe return if they ever become lost.
Food: Nourishing Your Cat with the Right Nutrition
When it comes to selecting food for your cat, it’s important to consider their specific life stage and nutritional requirements. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends choosing a food designated for your cat’s particular stage of life, such as kitten, adult, or senior.
Here are some essential guidelines to follow when selecting cat food:
Life Stage-Specific Nutrition: Different life stages require different nutrients. Kittens have specific dietary needs for growth and development, while adult cats have different requirements to support their maintenance. Senior cats may benefit from food formulated to address age-related changes. Look for cat food labels that clearly indicate the appropriate life stage for which they are designed.
Research and Information: Before purchasing cat food, conduct thorough research. Visit the websites of food manufacturers to gather information about their products. Look for details on ingredients, nutritional profiles, and any specific benefits or considerations. It’s important to choose a reputable brand known for producing high-quality cat food.
Consultation with a Veterinarian: Your veterinarian is an invaluable resource when it comes to selecting the right cat food. They can provide tailored advice based on your cat’s specific needs, including any dietary restrictions or health conditions. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure that the chosen cat food aligns with your cat’s nutritional requirements.
Transitioning: When introducing a new cat food, it’s essential to do so gradually. Abrupt changes in diet can cause digestive upset. Start by mixing small amounts of the new food with the old food, gradually increasing the proportion of the new food over time until your cat has fully transitioned to the new diet.
Remember, each cat is unique, and their dietary needs may vary. Regularly monitor your cat’s body condition, energy levels, and overall health to ensure that the chosen food is providing them with the appropriate nutrition. Adjustments may be necessary as your cat’s needs change over time.
By following AAFCO guidelines, conducting research, and consulting with your veterinarian, you can make informed decisions about the best food options for your cat. Providing a balanced and nutritionally appropriate diet is essential for their overall health and well-being.