Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your cat.

Essentials for Your Cat

cat_siamese_sittingSometimes it seems like cats need more stuff than kids! They move right in and take over our bed, grab our loose stuff and hide it under the beds and dressers—what will they think of next? High quality, safe equipment can mean a big difference in the care of your cat.

Cat Litter Box and Litter

Litter boxes may be hooded or open, a simple box or a high-tech automatic style. There are many different kinds of litter available, ranging from soft clay clumping to flushable. Cats develop preferences, so choose the type yours is already using, at least initially. The rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Place the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic area, and show your kitty where it is when you bring her home. Here are some articles to check out for further information: What Is the Best Type of Cat Litter?, Best Litter for Kittens: Is Clumping Litter Safe?, and Tips for Good Litter Box Placement.

Cat Collar and Identification Tag

safety collar. These are also called breakaway collars; if your cat gets the collar caught on something, it will break open rather than inflict harm.

You will also need an ID tag that has your current phone number on it.

Many people also have their cat microchipped for identification. The microchip is implanted at the veterinary hospital or shelter under the skin over the shoulder area. If your kitty becomes lost, most shelters and veterinary hospitals have special readers that can get an ID number from the chip so that you can be phoned.

Cat Carrier

You will need a way to transport your cat safely, even if you don't plan to take her places too often. In an emergency or to get back and forth to her regular veterinary visits, a safe pet carrier is necessary.

Cardboard carriers are the spare tire of the carrier world; they’ll last the short trip home, but then you need something better. Hard-sided, soft-sided: there are many cat carrier options available. If you plan on flying with kitty, however, make sure to purchase a carrier that is labeled “airline approved” so it will fit beneath your seat.

If your kitty does not appreciate carriers, purchase one with breakaway walls so you can take it apart around the cat rather than reach in to remove her.

You can learn more here: "Choosing a Cat Carrier."

Cat Food and Water Dishes

Your cat will need dishes to eat and drink from, and you'll want something that is easy to clean and difficult to tip over. Ceramic, earthenware, glass, and metal are the sturdiest. Plastic dishes may be the source of contact allergy in some cats—it might be the dyes or the plastic itself that is the problem. A waterproof mat to place the dishes on will help to protect your floor from spills. Many pet stores sell these with pretty cat-art designs on them, and they are made of easy-to-wipe-up plastic.

It's also important to consider the shape of your cat's bowls; if they are too narrow and deep, they can push back on your cat's whiskers, causing pain and discomfort. Choose wide, shallow bowls instead.

Cat Scratching Posts

Most cats prefer to wrap their claws around rough textures such as sisal rope or corrugated cardboard. Scratching posts are available in vertical, horizontal, and angled styles and it is worthwhile having several styles to choose from, so you can see which your kitty prefers. In addition, a sprinkling of catnip will help stir up interest. Visit for more information about scratching prevention and posts.

Cat Grooming Supplies

Brushes, combs (the style depends on your cat’s coat), nail clippers, a toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste are all important supplies to have on hand. You can also get a toothbrushing kit that includes two types of toothbrush and some toothpaste for your cat. A flea comb is also great to have around. Even if there are no fleas, it is a good grooming tool to remove dead hairs. Nail trimmers, a nail file, and a set of pediatric human toenail clippers are well-suited for young kittens.

Cat Toys

While a balled-up piece of paper may work for some cats, others enjoy chasing laser beams or feathers dangling off fishing poles. Catnip-filled mice and balls with bells are also fun. Just be sure to store all strings out of your kitty’s reach when you are not actively playing with them, as they may present a serious choking hazard.

Cat Bed

From personal experience, I can tell you that your kitty will make her bed wherever she wants, usually on yours. However, it is important to have a snuggly space designated just for her. Ideally, select a cat bed that has a removable, washable cover. This will allow you to clear out the hairs she leaves behind. There are versions that will sit on beds, couches, or the floor and some that you can hook onto window frames so she can survey her territory and watch the birds. Check out this great selection: Cat Beds.

Cat Climbers

Condos and climbers give your cat a private place to go, and they also provide exercise and claw-sharpening opportunities.

Your choice of cat equipment should be made in consultation with a knowledgeable pet store representative, the breeder, or your veterinary staff (technicians are a wonderful source of information about general cat care). There are so many items to choose from; it can seem a little overwhelming. You need not spend a lot on these items. Simple, functional items are all that is needed.

Happy shopping!

You May Also Like These Articles:

The Dangers of Strings, Ribbons, and Yarn for Cats

Interactive Playing with Wand Toys

Does Your Cat Have Whisker Fatigue?

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Best Litter for Kittens: Is Clumping Litter Safe?

Adopting a New Kitten or Cat

Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

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