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How to Prepare for a New Cat

Updated on July 21, 2014

So, you're bringing a new cat home...

You've decided to add a cat to your family, and now you're wondering what you need to do and what you need to buy. Well, read on for some answers.

Bringing a new cat home?

Make sure you're prepared for bringing a new kitty into your home. Read this article for some great tips!
Make sure you're prepared for bringing a new kitty into your home. Read this article for some great tips! | Source

Minimum Supplies Needed for a Pet Cat

To prepare a home for a new cat, there are some things you absolutely must have.

The bare minimum supplies should allow you to handle a cat's 3 basic needs:

  • Eating (food and water)
  • Eliminating (litterbox, litter, scooper)
  • Shelter (provided when you bring the cat into your house)


There are varying opinions about whether dry food or wet food is better. Some people only feed their cats dry food, and some feed only wet, some feed a mix of both or only wet on occasion as a treat. Most cats do enjoy soft cat food quite a bit.

There are also varying opinions about how important it is to feed high quality food to pets. There are high end raw foods, good quality grain free, and many other affordable options.

It's up to you to decide what's right for your kitty cat. Just be sure to have some food on hand prior to bringing your new cat home and do some research.

If you don't know what kind of food you want to start with, you may want to ask what type of food the cat is eating already and just buy the same thing. It will help make the transition to a new home that much easier on the kitty.

Litterbox and Scooper

Cat Litter

Litter I Like

I really love Sweat Scoop, wheat cat litter. I also really like the corn. Recently I tried the Blue Buffalo ground walnut and Arm and Hammer ground pine and I like both.

The two that are my least favorite, are Arm and Hammer regular litter (didn't clump as well as I'd like) and Nature's Miracle (too much fragrance).

Cat Scratcher

Although a pole is ideal, as a secondary scratcher, even something as simple as this rope wrapped board are loved by cats. This one is one of my cat's favorites. They lay down next to it, grab it and scratch it with their hind legs.
Although a pole is ideal, as a secondary scratcher, even something as simple as this rope wrapped board are loved by cats. This one is one of my cat's favorites. They lay down next to it, grab it and scratch it with their hind legs.

Cardboard Cat Scratcher

Here's a photo of one of my cats using the cardboard cat scratcher. He loves it!!
Here's a photo of one of my cats using the cardboard cat scratcher. He loves it!!


This is the minimal setup required for an indoor cat.

  • Litter Box
    Cats will use a litter box instinctively. Cats that like to dig need a deep litter box to minimize scattering the litter out of the box. Most cat litter brands recommend having 3 inches of litter in the pan, so keep that in mind.
  • Litter scooper
    Used to scoop clumps of urine or feces from the litter box. It's shaped like a small shovel but with holes throughout for the litter to pass through, to act as a strainer.

  • Cat Litter
    Scoopable or clumping is easiest to clean, so is great when trying to keep a very clean and tidy litter box. Most cats like fine grains, such as wheat, corn or clay. There are even some new kinds of litter like ground walnut shell and ground pine. You can try pellets, such as newspaper, or another natural product such as pine chips but be aware that not all cats will like litters made from bigger pieces, and if they don't like it, they'll find somewhere else to go.

Additional Supplies You Should Have for a Pet Cat

If you're really tight on money, you could probably pass on some of these items. But if you aren't, these are great items to have on hand for your new kitty.

  • Cat Scratcher
    All cats scratch by nature. It helps sooth them and helps keep their claws in shape, shedding the outer layer. If you don't provide a "good" place for your new kitty to scratch, they'll find something else to scratch, probably your furniture.
    NOTE: Please don't de-claw your cat if you're concerned about scratching. "De-clawing" is actually cutting the first digit off your kitties toes. The majority of cats can easily be trained to use a scratching pole.
    And...if you buy a cat "tree" or pole, the cat might run up and down it, scratch it, sleep on the shelves...and get plenty of exercise. Think about it. It's a good investment in your cat's happiness.
    Corrugated cardboard scratching mats are inexpensive, if that is a consideration.

Ceramic Bowl for Cat Food and Water

Ceramic bowl
Ceramic bowl | Source
  • Glass or Ceramic Bowls
    You will need one bowl for cat food, and one bowl for water. Cats prefer glass or ceramic, or possibly stainless steel. Most cats do not like plastic, because plastic traps odors and cats are very sensitive to smell. Fresh water should be available at all times.

    One of my favorite places to buy bowls for my cats, are the dollar stores. You can buy just one or two bowls at a time.

    If you can spend just a little extra, I recommend the flat heavy bottomed pet bowls. These don't tip easily and are great for kittens who jump into bowls, or cats (like one of mine) that likes to tip bowls.

  • Carrier
    A pet carrier is necessary for transporting the cat, especially to the veterinarian. There are many types of carriers available, from hard shell to soft shell, some open on the top, some in the front. So find one that is the right size for a cat, and looks like something you could easily put a cat in, even if the cat is trying really hard not to get into it.
  • Small Trash Can with Lid
    When you scoop the used cat litter, you need somewhere to put it. A wastebasket with a lid is needed to keep the smell under control.
    If you don't want to buy a new trash can, a bucket that litter comes in works great! Just buy the kind that the whole lid comes off and you're set.
  • Trash Bags
    These are for the wastebasket. Used litter gets heavy, so be sure to get good quality bags that won't easily tear.

Cat Toys

These are some of my cat's toys, and they are well-worn, as you can see.
These are some of my cat's toys, and they are well-worn, as you can see.

Grooming Supplies

Cat Bed

Cat Tree (Scratcher)

Optional Supplies

In addition to the items listed above, there are some optional supplies you can get to make your cat's life more enjoyable.

  • Toys
    Stuffed mice, small balls, 1/2" - 1" pom poms from a craft store, cardboard from toilet paper rolls, and crumpled paper are good cat toys. Adult cats sometimes like catnip; not all cats respond to catnip. It's hit or miss.
    Most cats love poles with feathers on a string.
    WARNING: Do not let cats play with strings or rubber bands unattended. If they swallow these items, they can get caught in the kitty's intestines and the cat would need surgery to remove them. This can be deadly!

  • Grooming Supplies
    If you plan on grooming your cat yourself, you will need the appropriate supplies. The other option is to take your cat to the vet or groomers for regular grooming. Here are some items to consider.
    * Pet Nail Clippers
    * Brush
    * Matt Comb (for removing tangles from long haired cats)

  • Cat Bed
    Many cats love cat beds. What kind of bed, can be different for different cats. Most of mine love the round ones, no walls, just very simple. Since I'm a bit crafty, I made my own. Two circles sewn together and stuffed with stuffing from a craft store. Very easy. There are many inexpensive options at cat stores, and also stores like Walmart, Target, Big Lots, etc.
  • Cat Collar
    Although I recommend keeping your cat indoors, if you do let your cat out, please put a collar on her or him with a pet tag with your contact information.

  • Cat Tree
    As mentioned above, many cats LOVE cat trees. They provide an opportunity for your cat to climb, which provides them with exercise. Most cats like to be up high, so the 6 foot cat trees are loved by many cats. And most cats love to sleep on the shelves. So if you have a little extra money and are vaguely considering buying one, I urge you to give it a try.

    NOTE: If you bring a cat tree home, and your cat doesn't take to it immediately, try rubbing catnip on the pole. Also try tossing a pompom up on a shelf to entice your kitty to climb. Once your cat tries it out, they will probably continue to use it.

Other Considerations

To prepare for bringing a new cat home, you may also want to think about some other things, in order to prepare properly.

  • Do you want to allow the cat into your bedroom? If not, you should plan to sleep with your door closed starting on the very first day you bring the cat home.
  • Are there any other rooms you do not want to allow the cat in? Perhaps a sewing room, with fabric that you don't want covered in fur? Are you prepared to keep the door closed?
  • Are you planning to allow the cat on your counter tops? If not, are you prepared to take the time to train your cat not to get on the counters?
  • Do you have a place picked out for the litterbox?
  • What preventative health care will your cat need? Vaccinations, de-fleaing, possibly de-worming, and a medical check-up are all good things to consider.
  • Are you planning on letting your cats drink out of the toilet? If so, you cannot use any strong cleaners when cleaning the bowl. If not, are you able to consistently keep the lid down to keep the cats out?
  • Do you plan on "free-feeding," that is, leaving dry food out at all times, or do you plan on feeding 2 meals per day? If you feed at timed intervals, be prepared for your cat to remind you when it's time to eat. If it's in the morning, your cat may wake you up to remind you.

A Happy Cat is a Well Cared For Cat

Cat Bed??

Just a warning: Don't be surprised, if you buy something special for your kitty, and they choose not to use a cat bed. Some cats love them, and others, well, choose to sleep in a box! LOL (see photo below).

Kitty In Box - Favorite Bed

One of my cats chooses to nap in this box, which was from peaches bought at Costco. Go figure! You don't always need to spend a bunch of money to make a kitty happy.
One of my cats chooses to nap in this box, which was from peaches bought at Costco. Go figure! You don't always need to spend a bunch of money to make a kitty happy.

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© 2011 Amber Killinger


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    • profile image

      Ellano 3 years ago

      I am not sure what the best is but I do know that Hills Science diet has had a lot of bad cases concerning meicdal issues to cats who have been on it. Iams has a very high filler and fat content. ps you want the least amount of fillers possible. Natural Life cat food is really good at avoiding allergens and fillers. They are a holistic brand of pet food that uses meat cuts and not leftovers(eyes, hooves, hides, etc ) to make their food so it is a little more expensive but much better for your cat in the long run. You can look up other holistic brands, i have had personal successes with Natural Life pet foods in the past. when the pet food poison crisis went down a few years ago, this was one of the brands people turned to for assured chemical free, safe and healthy pet food.

    • profile image

      Anas 3 years ago

      The cat food should be a brand that has a good retaoupitn and been around awhile.. also do the research on what should be in the food and what should not be. As a cat gets older the food needs to change to a better food. Some cats can handle dry and wet other cats only dry. The best combination is a tsp or two with a quality of dry food twice a day depending on your pets size. There are cats that will eat just dry food, but those sometimes end up with more hairballs which is not a problem for the cat, they throw them up easily enough but then you have to clean them up.. so that is a factor for you to consider.As for cat litter.. again make sure it is a good brand. There are ones out there that are just down right weird. But the clumping litter is good but again you want a good brand that has been around awhile and doesn't have a lot of dust when you use it. I have several brands that I like and let price make the final decision. Unlike food you can change the litter without problems. With food it isn't a good idea to change the food a lot.Hope this helps.


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