You’ve seen all the Youtube videos of cats playing with toys, you’ve googled pictures of kittens, and you’ve made the decision to get a cat. Cats are great pets and are relatively low maintenance. They clean themselves, go to the bathroom by themselves, and don’t need the amount of love and affection that dogs do. That being said, cats do need specific things that other animals won’t. When you get a cat for the first time, you need to make sure that you have the supplies that it requires so that you can have a happy and healthy kitty.
1. Litter Box
Cats aren’t animals that need to be taken out to go to the bathroom and they don’t need potty training; in fact, they instinctively know to use the litter box without being told. If you don’t provide this specific location that they look for when they have to do their business, they can get upset, stressed, or sick. If a cat is upset or stressed, it will poop or pee in another place in the house. Your carpet, your shoes, and even your couch; if they are stressed and don’t want to poop or pee in these places, they can struggle to have a regular bowel movement or urinate and these things can make a cat sick or cause pain. The size of the litter box doesn’t differ very much unless you have a particularly large cat; just make sure that your cat will be able to fit its entire body in the litter box comfortably. You can choose to give your liter box a cover so that your cat can have more privacy but it is not a requisite. I personally like the ones that hide in plain sight like this awesome planter one! There are so many different choices for litter boxes out there that you can find one that fits your home best.
Of course, just having a litter box with no litter will create the same problem that not having a litter box at all would create. There are many kinds of litter and most cats don’t really care which one you use. You can use a litter that helps conceal the odor, a litter that turns from a sand-like substance to an easy to remove clump when the cat urinates, or types of litter that doesn’t create dust when the cat scratches at the litter to cover its poop. If you use one type of litter and your cat is not using the box, the cat may not like the litter that you have and you should change it out to see if the cat prefers a different kind. It is also incredibly important to change your cats’ litter on a regular basis. If you have one cat, you can change it once a week. If you have multiple cats and only one litter box, you will need to change it more often. When you change out the litter, make sure to scrape the entire box clean so that any bacteria left behind is removed and doesn’t pass to the new litter. I also highly suggest cleaning out the box with a feline friendly disinfectant every time you change the litter. If you aren’t sure which litter is best for your cat give Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter a try its the #1 sold item for ALL pet supplies on amazon!
Along with the litter and litter box, you need a tool that is specially made to clean the box without wasting the litter or ruining a spoon in your home. These special cat litter scoopers have holes in them and a slanted edge so that you can easily scoop up the urine and poop and the excess litter can fall through the holes and not come out with what you are removing, thus expanding the amount of time that you can use the litter. Some of them come with handy wall mounts like this one.
4. Scratching Posts
All cats have the instinctual desire to scratch on things. This is how their ancestors would keep their claws from getting too long to avoid ingrown nails that create pain when they walk. It’s not something that a cat will stop doing because it is engrained in their biology. If you don’t provide your cat with scratching posts, the cat WILL go after your furniture or even your carpet or rugs. The size or type of scratching posts are up to you; there are posts that have a rope wrapped around them, posts that are carpeted, posts with beds for the cat to sleep on, and different levels of posts for them to jump all over. Having these available for your cat will not only save your furniture but it will also help keep the cat’s claws from getting too long. I personally love the look of these new cardboard based ones, just make sure you are getting a well reviewed one because there are a lot of knockoffs that do not hold up.
5. Claw Clippers
As I mentioned before, a cat’s claws can grow to the point of being painful to the animal. Some cat owners choose to have their animal “declawed” which is essentially cutting off the tip of a cat’s fingers so that claws will never grow. This is widely debated but is most commonly believed to be inhumane to the animal. Scratching posts will not be enough for the cat’s claws to stay short, but it will make the amount of time between clipping quite longer. If a cat’s nails or claws get too long, not only can it be painful for the animal but it can also make holding the cat difficult because you can get scratched without the cat even meaning to hurt you. You also have the option to take the cat to the vet or groomer to have the claws clipped by a professional if you are nervous about hurting your cat or you aren’t comfortable holding the cat still. (It won’t like having its nails clipped. For no reason other than the fact that it doesn’t understand why it is being held still, but for the reasons listed above, it’s very important.)
6. Cat Collar and Tag
Whether or not you want your cat to go outside, you should always have a tag and collar on your cat. They are intelligent and determined animals and if they make a run for it, there is a good chance they will go off on their own. The collar can be any color or type that you want but it needs to fit your cat’s neck in a way that is tight enough to not come off but not so tight that it hurts the cat. Tags can be made at any pet supplies store, usually by a kiosk. The information for the tag should have the cat’s name, your phone number, and even your address if you want it. This will help people know that the cat belongs to someone and doesn’t need to be taken in or taken to the pound.
These animals are highly intelligent and need stimulation. While watching the cats play with their toys is adorable and often funny, it’s also good for the animal. They need stimulation mentally and physically to keep their mind healthy as well as their body. Cats love food and sleep and without playtime, they can easily gain weight, which is difficult on their joints and causes health issues down the line. If you are lazy like me you may want to look into get a Laser Toy that will automatically rotate and keep your cat entertained for hours!
8. Cat Door
If you choose to have a cat that can come in and out of the house as he or she pleases, you should invest in a door that is specifically made for a cat to go through when it feels like it. These doors are put at the bottom of a house door and have a rubber flap that the cat pushes through to get in and out. The rubber flap helps prevent bugs from entering the home, even though there is an opening and your cat will be able to do as it pleases without meowing at you to open the door for it. Most of these cat doors have locks as well so you can prevent your cat or anything else coming in and out.
This is an obvious one, I know, but the amount of different kinds of food for cats is quite expansive. This depends on your cat’s personal preference and what you want to feed him or her. Wet food is commonly considered healthier for your cat because it has fewer preservatives and it also helps prevent the cat from getting into the food in the middle of the night. Different kinds include shredded, pate, cubed, and a few other kinds. They come with different flavors of chicken, tuna, salmon, and veggies. While there is nothing wrong with giving your cats veggie food, it is important that you not remove meat from the cat’s diet. Remember that these animals are relatives of tigers, lions, and cougars. These animals live off of meat, not because it’s the only thing that is available, but because it is what their body needs. Removing meat from your cat’s diet without the direction of a vet is only going to hurt your cat.
Cat treats are a good idea because, like yourself, they like to have something special to eat from time to time. It can also increase an animal’s affection towards a person and make the cat happier overall. Some treats even have some medication in them that can help their health as well as making them feel like they’re getting something special to eat.
Catnip is a recreational plant that can improve your cats happiness and effects about 70% of domesticated felines over the age of 6 months. There are many different ways of exposing your cat to catnip. Some people grow their own plants inside or through sprinkling it on one of their toys. You can even buy cat toys infused with catnip! The main response is seen between 5 and 15 minutes, this can be rolling, pawing or frisking.
12. Cat Brush
Cats naturally clean themselves with their tongue. Their tongue is rough and helps remove the dead skin and dirty fur from the body to keep the animal clean and keep the fur from taking over the cat’s body. Because they do this, “fur balls” are common. What a fur ball is, is an accumulation of the fur that the cat has licked off of itself and swallowed that cannot be passed in a natural way. This ball is regurgitated like vomit and is uncomfortable for your cat, because it is pretty much vomiting. You can help your cat remove fur by getting a cat brush and brushing him or her on a regular basis. The cat will enjoy the sensation and you would be surprised how much fur comes off of your cat. Brushes come in many different sizes and specialty’s and depending on your cats length of fur you may need a different type of brush. The most highly reviewed de-shedding brush for cats is this one by Furminator. It does a great job at getting to the undercoat as well.
13. Fur ball Treatment
Even if you brush your cat, fur balls are all but inevitable. Ways to help your cat are to make sure they have a supply of clean water to stay hydrated, give the cat treats that have certain ingredients in them to help with the digestion, feed your cat a proper diet. There are also natural lubricants that you can give your cat. The fur balls are regurgitated when the ball is creating a blockage in the digestive system and the lubricants can assist in keeping the intestines slick so that things go down easily. There are flavored lubricants so that your cat has no idea that what he or she is eating is technically medication.
Cats are special companions that love their humans when they are treated well. They have different personalities and different preferences but what you need is the same. Cats can live a long time and with the items above, you’re on the right track to have a happy and healthy cat for years to come.