The Ultimate First-Time Cat Owner Guide

Furry Friends

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If you’ve recently decided to adopt a cat for the very first time, congratulations, and welcome to the club!

Between the toe beans, late-night crazy time, toys, and (more than) the occasional scratch, having a feline in your midst will be a big change for both of you. Right off the bat, it’s important to know that your new little friend will be scared to death in your home. Cats are naturally more withdrawn than dogs so the adjustment process is quite different.

What to Know Before Bringing Home Your New Cat

Establish a “cat room” where you can let her explore the strange surroundings without getting too overwhelmed.

Put food, water and toys in this space and slowly expand “visits” to other parts of the house. Keep extending the amount of time out and about until she’s comfortable. Make sure you cat-proof your home or apartment and check to make sure there are no small objects, cleaning products or anything else potentially hazardous laying around.

But before you officially bring your buddy home, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need. Whether you’ve adopted a tiny kitten or a full-grown cat, read on for 10 essential items and a myriad of tips to make your furry friend feel more at home.

First things first, get yourself a nice-sized litter box. You may think boxes on the market will be too big for your kitty, but she needs plenty of room to do her business and cover it up afterwards. I recommend buying one with a lid, as this blocks a lot of bad odors and generally keeps your living space smelling fresher. This Petphabet box comes with a removable jumbo lid for easy daily cleaning, and it’s roomy enough that two cats could fit at the same time. The best part? It comes in blue, teal, and green so your kitty can be stylish and fresh.

The next thing you need to fill the box with is a reliable litter brand. There are tons of brands out there to choose from, but the one I’ve had the most success with is Purina Tidy Cats LightWeight 24/7 litter. My cat Lucy drinks large amounts of water (my vet once said he drinks more than any cat she’d ever seen), so I’m always picking up big pee clumps to ensure he has enough soft litter to do his thing. This litter scoops like an absolute dream, and it doesn’t over-clump and create a rock-hard nightmare for your buddy in the box. It’s also light as a feather, just like it promises.

While you’re at it, grab a scoop to keep the litter fresh on the daily. I don’t recommend getting one from your local dollar store, as those cheaper kinds don’t work as well as the name brands and break far too easily. Introducing the DuraScoop Jumbo Cat Litter Scoop. Designed and sold in the USA, this has garnered over 16,000 reviews on Amazon – and 89 percent of those are five stars! It’s made of all metal and includes a comfy rubber grip. It’s also corrosion-resistant, meaning it won’t rust.

Dry and wet food both have their benefits, and it’s ultimately up to you which one you’d like your cat to munch on every day. You can check out Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine page to read more about these options. In the meantime, Purina One Natural Healthy Kitten Dry Food is a great starting point, and it’s even veterinarian recommended. The main ingredient is chicken, with high amounts of protein to give your kitty strong muscles. This also comes in a wet food option.

Moving to a new home is overwhelming, and your kitty’s bound to have some accidents during the adjustment period (and even sometimes after). It’s always good to have a stain remover on hand when this happens. Bissell’s Enzyme Action Cat Stain and Stink Remover gets the job done on urine, feces and vomit. It’s also pet-safe so you don’t have to worry about your cat inhaling anything dangerous.

Do you recognize this chubby gray kitty? It’s Pusheen, the cutest cartoon cat you’ll ever see! Petco has an adorable line of Pusheen products, and this double pet bowl will be perfect for mealtime. The rubber base will prevent spilling and skidding. Even better for pet parents? The removable bowls make cleaning a snap.

Next on the list is treats! You really can’t go wrong with these Temptations goodies. Though more expensive than your average container, thousands of reviews — yes, THOUSANDS — rave about how much their kitties look forward to them. According to 2019 Nielsen sales data, Temptations is America’s number one cat treat brand.

Now onto something that is arguably the most enjoyable thing to buy for your cat: a super-soft fuzzy bed! This Harmony Faux-Fur Cat Bed features an adorable quilted pattern and an entry scoop for easy access. Plus, it’s machine washable! Be warned: cats are very picky when it comes to where they lounge. Don’t be offended if your new pet doesn’t take a liking to the bed right away. Let them get used to it, and if you’re looking for something to use as an incentive, try a dash of catnip.

You’ll no doubt be showering your pet with toys, and something that they’ll love just as much is a sturdy scratch post. According to the Humane Society, cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark territory through scent glands on their paws, and sometimes, to show how plain excited they are to see you! This Serene scratch post features a plush carpet and two feather toys for stimulation, providing a much-needed outlet for all that pent-up energy (and to dissuade them from scratching your nice furniture, of course).

Last but certainly not least is meowbox! Technically this isn’t a singular item, but we had to include it. meowbox is the cutest cat subscription box out there. You have two plans to choose from, monthly or bi-monthly, and each box is filled with one-of-a-kind goodies along with a personalized note with your feline’s name. How sweet is that? There’s no commitment, meaning you can switch plans at any time, and you get free shipping. Oh, and did we mention a portion of proceeds from each box benefits an animal shelter? What more could you ask for?

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