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Before you bring your new kitten home, you will need to stock up on a few kitten essentials. Doing so ahead of time means that everything is ready and in place for the kitten’s arrival.
At a glance
Food and water bowls
Look for stainless steel or ceramic bowls. Avoid plastic if possible as it can cause feline acne in some cats. Bowls should be sturdy and wide enough for the cat to eat comfortably.
When you bring a new kitten or cat home, where possible, feed the same food they were eating at their previous home. If you want to switch to another type of food, do so gradually, over a few days by adding more of the new food and less of the old.
If you are bringing home a kitten, a small tray is easiest for little legs to climb in and out of. As the cat grows, you can switch to a larger tray which can have high sides (I use storage crates as litter trays), open trays, covered trays of self-cleaning trays.
A cat carrier is a must to safely transport your cat to the veterinarian. Look for a durable one which has both side and top openings and is easy to wash.
Cats need to scratch to remove the loose outer layer of the claws and stretch the shoulders and limbs. Scratching posts are available in different materials which include cardboard, sisal rope and carpet. I am not a fan of the cardboard posts just because they do tend to leave cardboard debris on the floor.
A cat tree is essentially a larger scratching post which may have shelves, cubby holes and resting areas. By nature, cats like to be up high, and a cat tree provides the cat with the opportunity to survey his environment from a safe distance, watch the world go outside or just retreat to his own quiet area for a snooze.
Cat toys come in a vast range of types from toy mice to wands, laser pointers, interactive toys, all of which offer the opportunity to stalk, chase and capture pretend prey. This provides the cat with physical and mental stimulation. Look for toys which can withstand a certain amount of chewing and throwing around, and be careful with toys that have parts which can be easily chewed off and swallowed. Never give cats long strands to play with such as tinsel or knitting wool which if swallowed, can cause a linear foreign body obstruction.
Tip: Don’t keep all toys out at the same time, but rotate, so the cat doesn’t become bored.
A soft, comfortable cat bed which should be easy to clean. Decide early on where you want the cat to sleep, on your bed or not and stick with it. The bed should be in a draft-free part of the room, especially in the cooler months.
Cats, especially those who are indoors will need to have their nails trimmed very few weeks. If this starts in kittenhood, it should be easy to do. Pet shops and veterinarians sell pet nail trimmers, but human clippers are adequate too. Just make sure they are sharp so that they don’t crush the claw and you don’t cut into the living tissue inside the claw.
All cats benefit from a regular brush to remove loose hairs; this is particularly important for longhaired cats whose coat is prone to matting. Brush shorthaired cats once a week and longhaired cats once a day. It only takes a few minutes to keep the cat’s coat tangle-free.
Cat toothbrush and toothpaste
Dental care should start in kittenhood to help prevent the development of gum disease, which not only impacts the teeth but also affect several other body systems. Only use toothpaste which is made for cats.
Speak to your veterinarian about the most suitable anti-parasitic treatments in your area. Common parasites include intestinal worms (roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm), fleas, ticks and heartworm. We recommend veterinary preparations over supermarket products.