11 Must-Have Essential Items For Your Cat

essential cat items

It is easy to get overwhelmed with what to get for your new cat. Besides showering it with lots of love, there are essential items for your cat that need to be settled first.

This guide will navigate you through these essentials, ensuring your feline friend enjoys a healthy, joyful life in its new home.

1. Litter Boxes

cat in litter box

Nothing says “This is home” better than your cat’s own litter box. Unlike dogs who usually do their business outside, our cats are happier doing it indoors.

Providing a litter box aligns with a cat’s instincts for waste elimination and helps prevent accidents around the house.

Cats have been instinctively burying their waste for various reasons:

  • Avoiding predators
  • Territorial signaling
  • Cleanliness

Types Of Litter Boxes

Cats can be very fussy about their toilets.

Open Litter Boxes

The most common and affordable type. These are easy to access and clean but they offer little privacy and can allow litter to be kicked out during use.

Covered Litter Boxes

These provide privacy for cats and help contain odors and litter inside the box. But not all cats like the enclosed space.

These can be slightly more challenging to clean due to the cover.

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

These litter boxes can automatically sift and remove waste into a separate compartment after your cat uses it.

They are more expensive but offer convenience and help keep the litter box fresh.

Some cats can be afraid to use it due to all the movement and sounds coming from the litter box.

Top-Entry Litter Boxes

Designed with an opening on the top, these boxes help reduce litter tracking and offer privacy.

However, due to the position of the opening, it may not be suitable for older or less agile cats.

Tips For Choosing A Litter Box

If you have no experience in buying litter boxes, I would strongly suggest that you start with the open litter box first before upgrading to the fancier ones.

If you have more than one cat at home, it is better to let them have their own litter box.

Cats are territorial creatures and are not fond of sharing something as personal as their litter boxes.

Sharing of litter boxes can result in conflicts between your cats.

2. Cat Litter

cat litter

We humans use water to flush our waste. Cats use cat litter to serve the same purpose.

You need cat litter to help absorb the odors and fluids in your cat’s litter box. Otherwise, your house will start to smell like an ammonia factory.

Here are some of the more commonly used types of cat litter.

Clumping Vs. Non-Clumping

Cat litter can primarily be divided into two categories: clumping and non-clumping.

Each has its pros and cons depending on the type of material used.

Clumping Cat Litter

Clumping cat litter turns into solid clumps when wet, making it easy to remove waste without having to replace all the litter.

Here are some common materials for clumping cat litter:

  • Clay
  • Corn
  • Walnut shells
  • Wheat
  • Wood shavings
  • Pinewood

I know of some cat owners that use dirt from their gardens as cat litter.

Please do not do that as dirt doesn’t clump well and can contain bacteria and parasites.

Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Non-clumping cat litter does not form clumps, requiring more frequent replacement of the entire litter box content.

Here are some common materials for non-clumping cat litter:

  • Wood pellets
  • Silica gel
  • Recycled paper pellets

Tips When Choosing Cat Litter

The most important thing that I look out for is odor control. You don’t want your home smelling like cat pee and poop every day.

I find that clumping litter tends to do a much better job of controlling bad smells.

The important point to know about clumping litter is that there’s a lot of dust involved.

My cat has feline asthma which means that these dust particles can easily enter his respiratory system and trigger his asthma.

This is why I had to make the switch to non-clumping litter.

One upside of using non-clumping litter is that there’s less tracking. Tracking refers to the amount of cat litter that your cat spreads all over the house after it’s done using its litter box.

There’s a high chance that you will need to experiment with a few types before finding one that your cat likes using.

Related Article: 13 Easy Hacks To Cat Proof Your Home

3. Big Trash Bags

black trash bag

Even if you are scooping out the soiled cat litter daily, I would still suggest that you change out the entire litter box once a week.

The majority of cat litter is biodegradable but please don’t flush the entire litter box content down the toilet or dump it in the garbage bin.

That is rather unhygienic and can stick up the area.

It would be better to dispose of the cat litter in a big trash bag, seal it up well and place it in your garbage bin outside.

Make sure to close the lid to prevent other curious roaming animals from tearing open the trash bag.

4. Cat Food

Should I Warm Up My Cats Wet Food

Cats are obligate carnivores which means that they need to eat a diet that is high in animal meat to survive.

You won’t find a tiger or lion chewing on bamboo shoots like a panda even if they are hungry.

They need special nutrients from meat that they can’t get from plants.

Cats also can’t handle eating a lot of carbs well, so it’s important to make sure they eat the right foods to avoid getting sick.

Types Of Cat Food

Dry Food (Kibble)

Dry food is the most popular choice among cat owners due to its cost, convenience and long shelf life.

You can leave out a bowl of dry food for your cat and not have to worry about your cat’s meal when you are out for a few hours.

I wouldn’t recommend you leave out your cat’s dry food in the heat as the risk of spoilage is high.

However, dry food is not without its drawbacks for cats.

Kibble typically contains a higher amount of carbohydrates which isn’t suitable for a cat’s diet. This can lead to feline obesity and other dietary issues.

Another problem with dry food is that it hardly contains any moisture due to how it’s processed.

This is bad for cats who naturally have a low thirst drive.

Cats tend to get their water from the food that they eat. The lack of moisture in dry food can further increase the risk of kidney diseases as your cat gets older.

Wet Food

Wet food or canned cat food is a great option for your new cat’s diet that’s high in moisture.

Wet food is higher in moisture which allows your cat to hydrate itself while it eats. And the ingredients used in canned food are of better quality.

This would mean more protein and less carbohydrates in your cat’s diet.

However, wet food tends to be more expensive than dry food. Furthermore, canned food tends to go bad faster in the open due to its high moisture content.

Raw Food

I know of many cat owners who balk at the idea of feeding their cats a raw meat diet.

But this diet mimics the natural diet that your spoilt domesticated cat would eat in the wild.

Every cat that I’ve had was fed the raw diet without any problems at all. Many vets might disagree with me but the raw diet is the best diet for cats if done properly.

The raw diet consists of raw animal meat, organs and bones which makes it high in protein and very low in carbs.

There are a couple of important things to take note of when feeding a raw diet to your cat.

Always prepare and store the raw food in a clean environment to prevent contamination. Once raw food is out in the open, it only takes a couple of hours to go stale.

A raw diet can also be expensive if you plan to purchase the best type of meat for your cat.

You will also need to know the amount of animal meat and organs to feed your cat based on your cat’s body weight.

Tips On Choosing The Right Diet For Your Cat

If your new cat is a kitten or a young adult, consider putting it on a wet diet. This will ensure that your cat is taking in the proper macronutrients daily.

I wouldn’t go down the route of dry food unless you have very good reason to do so.

At the very least, get the best kibble that you can afford that contains minimal fillers and by-products.

Make sure to give your cat a lot of water as well.

If you wish to start your cat on a raw diet, it would be good to find a vet who can give you some guidance.

Not all vets are supporters of the raw diet so it is important to find one that is.

5. Food And Water Bowls

cat eating and drinking from bowl

Selecting the right bowls not only ensures that your cat has access to fresh food and water but also contributes to its overall health and well-being.

Material

Bowls are available in various materials such as:

  • Plastic
  • Ceramic
  • Stainless steel
  • Glass

Stainless steel and ceramic are usually preferred due to their durability and ease of cleaning.

They are also less likely to harbor bacteria compared to plastic bowls, which can develop scratches over time.

I prefer to use stainless steel bowls for all of my pets. They are hardy and easy to clean.

Ceramic and glass bowls are pretty but you need to be sure to not chip them which can be dangerous for your cat.

Size And Depth

Choose bowls that are the right size for your cat. Shallow and wider bowls are often preferred by cats due to how long cat whiskers are.

Whisker fatigue is a condition where cats feel discomfort or stress from their whiskers constantly touching the sides of a narrow bowl.

Stability

Opt for bowls with a non-slip base to prevent them from sliding around while your cat eats or drinks. This can make meal times more comfortable and less messy.

I prefer to elevate my cat’s bowls a couple of inches up to make it easier for my cat to eat and drink.

This works well for elderly cats that don’t have to keep bending down to eat or drink.

Related Article: Guide For New Cat Owners

6. Scratching Post

cat scratching a post

Cats love to scratch and they do this to leave their scent on things and keep their claws in good condition.

Scratching is also a good way for your cat to stretch out all its muscles after a long nap.

When having a new cat around, you do not want it to start creating artwork with its claws on your furniture.

And the best way to prevent this is to get your cat a good scratching post or pad.

Types Of Scratching Post

When selecting a scratching post, you should find one that best suits your cat’s preferences and needs.

Material

Scratching posts can be made from sisal rope, cardboard, carpet and wood.

Sisal rope and corrugated cardboard are popular for their durability and texture, which most cats find appealing.

Height And Stability

Scratching posts come in many different heights and sizes.

A good scratching post should be tall enough to allow your cat to fully elongate its body while using it.

It is important to get one with a wide enough base to keep it stable while your cat is scratching.

You don’t want the post to topple over on your cat and scare the life out of it.

Tips On Getting Your Get To Use The Scratching Post

Most cats are smart enough to know what to do when they see a scratching post.

All I did was to place my cat’s paws on his post and he finally left my furniture alone.

However, there are times when you might face some resistance from your cat.

Here’s what you can do.

Sprinkle some catnip or silver vine on the scratching post to attract your cat. If your cat likes catnip, it will start to associate the scratching post with something rewarding and positive.

Place the scratching post near where your cat usually sleeps. Many cats like to give themselves a good stretch upon waking up and having the scratching post nearby will help.

Many cats are responsive to these scents and will be more inclined to approach and use the post.

Cats may take time to adjust to new items in their environment. So try not to get too frustrated if your cat still prefers your favorite armchair more.

7. Grooming Tools

cat hates grooming. what can you do about it

All cats require some form of regular grooming, some breed more than others.

Grooming helps to keep your cat in good condition and prevents health problems.

Here’s a list of essential grooming tools every cat owner should have.

Brushes And Combs

Brushing your cat helps to remove dirt and loose hair from its body.

Cats can spend up to 5 hours a day grooming themselves. You will often see your cat licking itself to groom its fur.

Its tongue acts as a natural brush to remove loose fur from its coat.

A big ball of swallowed hair can obstruct a cat’s intestines and become a life-threatening issue.

You can help prevent this by brushing your cat regularly.

Brushing also helps to prevent matting in cats with long fur which can be very painful for them.

Nail Clippers

Cats are equipped with very sharp nails which they often use for hunting and defending against predators.

But having sharp claws at home can do more harm than good.

Regular nail trimming can help prevent bad scratches if your cat happens to lash out at you.

It also prevents the anil from growing too long and embedding itself into your cat’s paw.

Shampoo

Most cats generally do a good job of keeping themselves clean but there are times when a bath is needed.

There were a few times when I had to shower my cat after coming back from the vet. The worst experience was when my cat had an enema and pooped all over himself on the way home.

Older cats might also require frequent baths as they can no longer groom themselves well.

Make sure to use a cat-friendly shampoo as human shampoos are too harsh for their delicate skin.

Ear Cleaner

Having clear ears will help prevent chronic ear infections in your cat.

After fostering and having many cats of my own, I find that many of them tend to have a bad build-up of ear wax over time.

I usually make it a point to clean out my cat’s ear with an ear-cleaning solution for cats.

You can get a bottle from the pet store or your vet.

You just need to clean the outside of the ear canal without going in too deep unless instructed by the vet.

Toothbrush And Toothpaste

Many cat owners overlook the importance of oral hygiene in their cats.

Regular brushing of your cat’s teeth can help prevent dental diseases such as:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Tooth resorption

You can use a small cat toothbrush or a finger brush which I personally prefer. Never use human-grade toothpaste as it contains Xylitol which is very toxic to cats.

Tips For Grooming Your Cat

The biggest tip that I can give you is to start grooming your cat today.

This is something that needs to be cultivated over time.

Many cats have low tolerance for grooming and the younger they are when you start grooming them, the easier your life will be as they get older.

Cats are fond of routines so having a regular grooming schedule can help your cat feel more relaxed during the session.

I like to do mine after my cat’s mealtime.

Don’t go beyond what your cat can tolerate when you first introduce grooming. Always praise your cat and give it treats to form a positive association with grooming.

8. Cat Collar

ginger cat with red collar

A cat collar plays a vital role in the safety and identification of your feline friend.

If you have a cat that is allowed to roam outdoors, a collar is a must in case it gets lost of injured.

Some collars come with a bell to warn some predators of the cat’s presence. This allows them to escape before the cat spots them.

It is a good idea to get your cat a breakaway collar for safety reasons. The breakaway catch allows the collar to come apart if your cat snags the collar on something.

This prevents the cat from suffocating itself.

Many species of wildlife are being decimated every year by roaming domesticated cats.

Not only do cats hunt them for food but also for fun.

If you have a cat that is allowed to roam outdoors, you need to know that there are many risks involved.

Your cat can get lost outside, hit by a cat or attacked by another animal.

Our cats are better left indoors only where they are safe and sound.

9. Toys

cat play with pink toy mouse

Most cats might not be as playful as dogs but having a couple of toys at home can help with mental stimulation and physical exercise.

I like getting my cats toys that tap into their natural hunting and stalking instincts. This keeps them engaged and tuned into their roots.

Interactive toys that move erratically, make sounds or look like prey are ones that I would get.

Make sure to get a few different ones as cats tend to get bored with the same toy rather quickly.

10. Travel Carrier

cat carrier

Having a travel carrier is a must if you plan to bring your cat along on a road trip or even to the vet.

Unlike dogs that can chill in the front or back seat, most cats don’t do so well out in the open.

They tend to feel more secure in a carrier and you don’t want your cat freaking out in the car while you are driving.

11. Cat Bed

cat sleeping in cat bed

I am going to say that getting a cat bed for your cat is going to be essential for some but optional for most cat owners.

Truth be told, I have yet to have a cat that frequently used a cat bed that I have bought. They rather sleep on the sofa, my bed, or in boxes and plastic bags.

In fact, my dog uses the cat bed more than my cat!

If you do want to get a bed for your cat, get one that is on the cheaper side first.

Here are a few things to note when getting a cat bed.

Size And Shape

The bed should be large enough for your cat to stretch out comfortably.

Cats often prefer beds with sides where they can nestle and feel protected. Dome or cave-like beds are great for cats who like more privacy.

Material

Look for soft, comfortable materials that will keep your cat warm. Plush fabrics, fleece or faux fur are popular choices that offer the warmth and comfort cats crave.

Ensure the material is non-irritating and safe for your cat.

Ease of Cleaning

You will still need to wash your cat’s bed once in a while so choose a bed that’s easy to clean.

Removable and machine-washable covers are ideal for maintaining hygiene without hassle.

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