What to Buy Before Adopting a Cat

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
You’ve decided to go to your local shelter and adopt a kitty – congratulations! Before bringing your new addition home, here’s what you need to buy.

Have you decided that you want to save a kitty’s life by heading to your local animal shelter and adopting one? That’s great! You’re going to be someone’s hero, but before you can bring your new fur baby home, there’s a bit of shopping that needs to be done. With the right supplies and products, you’ll meet all of your new companion’s needs and help her feel more at ease in her new environment.

Whether you’re planning on adopting a kitten, an adult cat, or a senior, the following list of 10 items, in no particular order, can help you get started. Keep in mind that if you’re adopting a special needs kitty, you might need additional supplies. And, no matter what, a trip to the veterinarian for a checkup and additional advice can also help you ensure you’re giving your furry friend everything she needs to thrive.

So, what are some of the things you should buy before adopting a cat? Here’s our list of the basics, along with some product recommendations that could make your shopping experience easier.

  1. Food and Water Bowls

Of course, you’ll need to purchase cat food for your new pet, but the right food and water bowls should also be on your shopping list.

Did you know that plastic pet food bowls aren’t recommended because, even though they might be “food safe,” they might end up developing micro-abrasions that allow bacteria to grow even if you’re diligent about washing the bowls? Instead, experts recommend non-porous materials, like stainless steel, glass, and ceramic.

And did you know that cats might experience whisker fatigue if you purchase the wrong food and water bowls? Basically, if your kitty’s sensitive whiskers are constantly coming into contact with the sides of her bowl while she eats, they may become stressed.

We recommend:

Check out the Dr. Catsby Cat Food Bowl. Made of kitchen grade stainless steel, it features a patented, shallow design to help prevent whisker fatigue. Plus, it helps prevent feline acne because it won’t absorb bacteria. And it’s easy to clean and durable, it’s dishwasher safe, it comes with a food grade silicone non-slip mat, and it even comes with a money back guarantee.

  1. Cat Beds

Sure, you could let your kitty sleep with you on your bed, and you can let her lounge on your sofa. But sometimes, cats prefer having their own little bed to sleep in. The right cat bed can help your pet feel cozy, warm, and secure, and these products come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can set up a few of them around the house in areas where your pet would like to relax while still being near you.

You can even purchase a heated cat bed that felines of all ages enjoy using. These might be beneficial if you want to be sure your new kitten will be nice and warm, or if you’re adopting an older cat who has some mobility issues or stiffness. From heated beds that you plug in, to those that are self-warming and don’t require electricity to work, there are a range of options to choose from.

We recommend:

Check out the Armarkat Pet Bed Cave Shape. For a newly adopted kitty, it provides a serene, cushioned, and secure space to hide away in. And once she’s totally confident in her new home, she’ll be able to use this bed whenever she wants to relax and take a nap. It’s shaped like a little cave, which cats prefer, as it makes them feel safe, and it boasts extra-thick cushions, velvet fabric, and polyester filling for softness. This bed is also machine washable, and it has a waterproof, anti-skid base.

  1. Cat Toys

Playing with your newly adopted kitty is a wonderful way to bond with her and make her feel like she’s a part of your family. Plus, playtime is exercise time, which is important for your pet’s overall health.

With so many different toys to choose from, you can purchase various products to keep your pet happy, and to prevent boredom. For example, puzzle toys can be mentally stimulating, while interactive cat toys can give your pet something to play with even if you’re busy. And you don’t even have to spend a lot of money, as simple catnip toys, balls, and mice are typically a hit with most cats.

Tip: Be sure to store away any cat toys that might be a hazard to your pet when you aren’t supervising.

We recommend:

Feather wands are a great place to start when shopping for cat toys because they’re affordable, they can awaken your kitty’s hunting instinct, and they allow you to directly interact with your pet during playtime.

Check out the Frisco Meowgic Wands Feather & Fun Teaser Cat Toy 3-Pack, which comes with three different attachments so you can keep things fun and interesting for your cat. Wave it around to get your kitty to run after it, pounce on it, and swat at it. And don’t forget to let her hunt it down successfully to get the satisfaction of tackling her imaginary prey.

  1. Litter Box

Your adopted kitty will look for a litter box to use, so be sure to have one ready for her before you bring her home. And, like all other categories of pet products, there’s more than one type of litter box style, from the really basic litter box with or without a hood, to advanced self-cleaning litter boxes like the Litter-Robot, and even litter boxes that are designed to look like furniture.

We recommend:

Check out the Tidy Cats Breeze Hooded Cat Litter Box System. Rather than using traditional litter, this product uses pellets that help you avoid litter tracking, and absorbent pads that help control odor. The manufacturer recommends changing the pellets monthly and the pads weekly if you have one cat, so you’ll need to do so more often if you have more than one kitty. Basically, the solids stay on top so you can scoop them out, while the liquid goes beyond the pellets to the pad below. Plus, the hood gives your kitty privacy and helps prevent messes.

  1. Litter

If you’re buying a litter box system that uses a specific type of litter, you won’t need to worry about finding the right litter. But, if you’re opting to use a traditional litter box system, there are a lot of different litters out there to choose from as well.

For example, there’s clumping and non-clumping clay litter, newspaper litter, plant-based litter made from things like walnuts or corn, silica litter, and pellet litter. Each of these comes with its own set of pros and cons that are worth considering, so it’s a great idea to do your research before deciding which type of litter you think would be best for you and your pet.

We recommend:

Check out Cat’s Pride Lightweight Ultimate Care Multi-Cat Clumping Cat Litter if you’re looking for a clumping clay litter. You can choose from scented and unscented options, and whichever you choose, it will be lightweight and long-lasting. It forms tight clumps, making it easy to clean your cat’s litter box, and it can control odor for 10 days with the help of baking soda. Plus, it’s low dust and low tracking, and the unscented version is hypoallergenic.

  1. Nail clippers

Declawing is cruel, and it can even negatively impact a kitty’s behavior. Plus, it’s so easy to keep your kitty’s claws trimmed at home. All you need is an affordable pair of feline nail clippers to get the job done. By keeping the claws trimmed, they won’t be sharp, so they won’t damage your furniture or scratch you when your kitty goes to play with you or snuggle with you.

Teaching your kitten to tolerate having her nails trimmed will make the process a snap as she gets older, and older cats who are adopted from shelters might already be used to having their paws handled and their claws trimmed too. Just be patient, take your time, and be gentle with your cat, especially if she’s new to having her paws touched and her claws trimmed.

We recommend:

Check out the Pet Republique Cat Nail Clipper. It features blades made of stainless steel so they’ll be durable and long-lasting, as well as sharp enough to safely, easily, and quickly trim your pet’s claws. Plus, this product boasts an ergonomic shape and half-moon blade design, making it easy to hold and use, and its size makes it appropriate for feline companions and other small pets. Your cat, and your furniture, will thank you.

  1. Cat Brush

Another good way to bond with your cat: grooming her. Regularly brushing your kitty can help keep her coat looking beautiful and smooth. And, in addition to keeping the coat soft, brushing helps remove loose hairs that would otherwise end up on your clothes and furniture. Also, with a simple grooming routine, you can take steps towards reducing hairballs, too, and your kitty will enjoy being pampered.

Once again, there are a variety of different cat brushes to choose from. There are pet grooming gloves that let you brush and pet your cat at the same time, and there are wacky products that let you brush your cat by using your mouth to mimic how cats lick one another. But a basic grooming brush for felines will do just fine if you want to start with something simple.

We recommend:

Check out the Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush for Cats. It features a comfort grip handle, along with stainless steel pins that are gentle on your cat’s skin, yet capable of quickly removing loose fur from your pet’s coat. It even helps make keeping your brush clean super easy, as all you have to do is press a button to make the pins retract and push the hair off of them. Basically, the hair you’ve collected during your cat’s grooming session falls off the brush, and you can then wipe the pad of the brush clean. After you’re done cleaning the brush, all you need to do is reposition the button so you can use the brush all over the again.

  1. Cat Carrier

A cat carrier will be necessary to transport your new pet from the shelter to your home, as well as to the veterinarian’s office and anywhere else you want to take your cat. The right carrier will not only be the appropriate size for your feline friend, but will also provide her with comfort so that being transported in it could be less stressful. And today’s modern cat carriers come in a wide range of styles, from those that you can wear as a backpack, to those that are designed to make travel by car safer.

You can choose from carriers with hard sides or soft sides, as well as those that expand to give your pet more room. There are carriers that open from the top and the side, giving you multiple options for getting your kitty in and out comfortably. And there are even carriers that feature wheels and long handles, just like a rolling suitcase. As you browse your options, consider where you’ll be using the carrier (for example, will you be traveling with your cat or just using the carrier for vet trips).

No matter what, make sure the carrier provides plenty of space for your kitty to be comfortable and at ease. Your pet should be able to turn around while inside the carrier. It should also be large enough for her to comfortably sit and stand in it as well. And a carrier that’s easy to keep clean is always a plus.

We recommend:

Check out the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed and Carrier, which is actually three products in one: a carrier, a car seat, and a bed. Rather than going with a hard-sided carrier that might not be all that comforting to your pet, this carrier is cozy and safe. The mesh dome unzips to let your cat out, or to let her lounge in the bed when it isn’t being used as a carrier. Plus, it features a nylon exterior, foam padding, a water repellant cover, and ultra plush bedding that’s machine washable, so it’s easy to clean. And its adjustable comfort-padded shoulder strap makes carrying it easy on you as well.

  1. Scratching Post

In addition to trimming your cat’s claws, strategically placing scratching posts around your house can also be a good way to keep your furniture safe from your kitty’s claws. And cats need these products to stretch, keep their claws in shape, and leave their scent, so it’s important to get some high-quality scratchers before introducing your feline friend to her new home.

As with so many other pet products today, you can find scratching posts in various shapes, sizes, and designs. There are horizontal scratchers, as well as vertical scratchers, and there are those that are made to more easily blend in with the rest of your home décor. Purchasing more than one type of scratching post can keep your kitty happy, too, as she’ll be able to take advantage of various textures and shapes to fulfill her instinct to scratch.

We recommend:

Check out the PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge. It doesn’t look like your typical cat scratcher, and it’s large enough for your pet to lounge on it. Made of recycled cardboard, it is available in three neutral colors, and it boasts a modern design, eco-friendly construction, and ergonomic curves. If your pet is small enough, she might even have fun hanging out in its open spaces on the inside of the curved shape. Plus, it’s dual-sided, so you can flip it over when one side gets worn out.

  1. Cat Tree

Finally, a cat tree can be loads of fun for your kitty, as these often feature hideaways and scratchers, as well as areas where a cat can lounge and see everything that’s going on from a high perch. While some cat trees are really large, with multiple levels and lots of toys, there are smaller options for smaller spaces and smaller budgets.

When shopping for a cat tree, consider whether or not it has a sturdy foundation, whether it’s made of high-quality and durable materials, and whether or not it will give your cat the space that she requires.

We recommend:

Check out the GoPetClub 72-inch Cat Tree if you have the space for a large cat tree. It has multiple levels for your kitty to climb and exercise, toys and ladders for playtime, and posts covered in sisal rope for scratching. Plus, perches let your cat enjoy being up high, while hideaways provide little spots for napping in comfort. And this tree is big enough for multiple cats that want to be on it at the same time.

Shop for Your New Best Friend!

Hopefully, this list will help you get started if you aren’t sure where to begin when you’re ready to shop for your new furry companion. Before you know it, your house will be ready to welcome your rescued kitty so you can focus on spending plenty of time together.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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