You’ve decided to adopt a cat or kitten into your family. Congratulations! Before you bring your new feline family member home, though, you need to make sure you have some basic supplies to help your cat feel like their new home is home.
1) Food: have a good quality cat food available that is appropriate to your cat’s age and stage of life. Find out what the place or person you adopted your cat from was using, and have some of that on hand. If you want or need to switch food brands or types, try mixing the new food in with the kind your cat is used to. Have at least one bowl per cat.
For more specific advice about cat food, amounts, types, and your cat’s particular needs, consult your veterinarian.
2) Water: ideally, the water dish should be in a separate location from the food. Some cats don’t seem to mind if the water dish is close to the food, whereas others won’t touch water near food. Many cats prefer having a water source away from food to avoid cross contamination. Water should be changed regularly. As with food, have at least one bowl per cat.
3) Litter: as with food, find out what kind of litter the place or person you adopted your cat from used. You can find a variety of substrates that are tailored to your cat’s age and whether or not you have more than one cat.
The general guideline around litter boxes is to have one per cat plus an extra box. In practice, I’ve seen different situations work well; it depends on the cats involved. Some cats are happy all using one litter box. Some cats will have more than one litter box yet all use the same one. Some cats do need to have access to multiple litter boxes to be happy. In my home, I have one litter box for my cat, Tom, and that works well for him.
Make sure the litter box is in a quiet, relatively private space where the cat can look out and see what’s around them. Scoop out the waste at least once daily and disinfect the box regularly. I recommend not using cleaning products with a citrus scent for litter boxes as a lot of cats are repelled by citrus.
4) Grooming: this will depend on your cat’s coat type. Longhair kitties need a lot more brushing—ideally daily—than shorthair kitties—usually once or twice per week. Hairless cats need to be bathed about once per week. Get cat-specific nail clippers to trim your cat’s claws about once a fortnight.
5) Multiple perches and hiding spaces: cats love to observe their world from a variety of heights, so make sure your home has safe spaces that your kitty can observe their world from.
Also, cats love having cool, dark places to hang out. A popular spot for cats is under the master bedroom bed. Tom has slept on an old laptop bag under the master bedroom bed at my family’s home almost from the time we adopted him. He also enjoyed napping inside an old watering can and a box that my son made cat-comfy.
6) Play: cats are predators and love games that simulate hunting. Laser pointers and feather toys on a line are popular for this reason. You can also get puzzle feeders to pique your cat’s interest and have them hunt for their food. As you get to know your new feline family member, you’ll figure out what kinds of activities and toys will captivate their interest.
Sometimes, bringing new kitties home isn’t so straightforward. What should you do if you find an abandoned kitten who is too young to be away from their mother? Next week, I’ll be talking about caring for kittens under 8 weeks and sharing, with permission, the story of three adorable kittens friends of mine have fostered.