How to Choose Kitten Essentials For Your New Cat

In recent posts, we’ve been talking a lot about steps you should take before getting your first kitten, like asking yourself whether you are ready for one, teaching you what to look for in a reputable breeder, how to make your house safe for your new kitten and several more topics.

In this article we want to guide you through a new kitten checklist of kitten essentials and accessories your new kitten will need. We don’t want to give you just a list of kitten supplies you’ll need, but we’re going to explain the details so you don’t end up buying stuff you don’t need. In some cases, we’ll explain why you need certain essentials we recommend.

Table of Contents

Gray kitten sitting in a small shopping cart
Wanna go shopping for kitten essentials?

What items do you need for your new kitten?

The first kitten essential item is a litter box. A litter box or boxes are a necessity for an indoor cat. In fact, even an outdoor cat may also benefit from having access to them.

You should consider having more than one litter box for your new kitten. There’s a general suggestion that you should have two boxes for one cat, three boxes for two cats, and so on. It’s a general guideline, but works in most cases. You may read more about number of litter boxes your cat household needs here.

If you are acquiring a new kitten, you may get them one litter box appropriate for kittens, with low edges for easy access, and one box that will suit them later in their adult cat life.

For an adult cat, we recommend a large, open litter box with higher edges (or shield) so the kitty litter is not dropped out by your cat raking it. If you want to go for a covered litter box, be aware there are some disadvantages of those. If you have only one cat that will be using it starting as a kitten and if you clean it frequently, they may not mind one all. To understand what to expect, please read our article about covered litter boxes here.

One pro tip is to get a large plastic container with high edges and cutting one of them shorter for an entrance. First, it helps to contain the kitty litter in the box. Second, your cat will benefit from a larger box. For more details, you can read more about desirable litter box sizes here.

How do you make sure your kitten uses the litter box?

Once you have a litter box, you want to make sure they use it. One key problem we consult many a new cat owner at our veterinary clinic is their cat not using their litter box. It usually comes down to the kitter litter that they put in it. Choosing the right litter may be as easy as picking the most popular brand at your pet store. It may be trying several types until you find the right for your new kitten.

We highly recommend trying at least a few different kitty litter types. The easiest way to do it is put two litter boxes together and filling the litter tray with a different type of litter. Then you can see which is preferred by your new kitten. One benefit is you can see which one suits your preferences for cleaning and odor control.

Also, you may try different types of cat litter one by one. However, switching from a litter type to another rapidly, is not recommended. Try to introduce new litter type gradually mixing it with the new one.

If you don’t want to do an experiment, we’d recommend choosing a regular, non scented litter, with fine particles. Most cats like a regular clumping litter, however it depends on individual cat preferences.

You need to give your cat food and water somehow, and what better way to do it than using a bowl?

First, don’t go for a double station with both bowls in one set. In their natural environment, cats rarely choose to drink near their hunting grounds. At some level, it may create water aversion in a household environment as well. So your new kitten should have separate bowls, placed in different locations for drinking and eating purposes.

The size of the bowls must be larger than the width of the whiskers of the cat. The reason for this is many cats don’t like their whiskers touching the edges. However, you shouldn’t go for a much larger bowl than that. This is because your cats whiskers are very sensitive and can suffer from whisker fatigue.

The depth of the bowls may vary due to individual cat preferences. It must be comfortable for your new kitten to eat or to drink so they don’t stick their head very deep in it. Your cat shouldn’t have to lick the bottom to get the last morsel of kitten food from the bottom.

Next, consider getting your cat a water fountain for drinking purposes. The reason for this is that in nature, many cats prefer drinking from running water. This is why household cats love drinking from a running faucet or toilet. It may also create a fun enjoyment for your cat.

Here's my cats water fountain. It needs an outlet to power the pump, the cord is plugged in above it. It has a spout where the water splashes into the bowl. They have fresh water all the time and it makes a nice relaxing sound.
Here’s my cats water fountain. They have fresh water all the time and it makes a nice relaxing sound. I see my cats drinking from the falling water more than out of the standing water in the bowl.

Pro tip: when choosing water and kitten food bowls, make sure they aren’t too easy to knock over accidentally.

Scratching posts for your cat’s needs

Scratching is a physiological need for cats. They use them for not only trimming their claws, but for stretching and territory marking as well.

It’s impossible to train a cat not to scratch. If you want to save your furniture and carpet, get as many cat scratching posts or pads, as possible (and, as common sense allows).

You’ll need at least one scratching area in every room your cat is allowed to enter. In many cases, you’ll need more than that. We’ve written more articles on this topic. Please see our recent post about Where to place a cat scratching post and our series on beginner cat care articles.

What to look for in a cat scratching post?

First and most importantly, a scratching post must be stable. Either a scratch pad that can be attached to a wall or a post with a larger base. As mentioned above, cats use scratching for stretching as well. If the scratching post is not able to stand firm against your cats clawing, your cat may find your couch is more appealing.

The height of the scratching post also matters. Your feline friend may want to stretch to their full length. This means the scratching post must provide this ability as well. If you have many scratching areas, not all of them have to have this feature, but the more the better. Try placing your tallest posts in spots closest to sleeping and playing locations of your cat.

A cat scratching post must be covered with a rough fabric like a rope from sisal fiber, not a nylon one which will be destroyed faster. It may also be bare, unfinished wood which many cats prefer as it’s similar to what they’d sharpen their claws out in the wild. Carpeted parts are not so that welcomed by cats in our experience. It also may give your cat the wrong idea that carpet being a good place to scratch.

Cat trees, shelves, window perches for elevation

Cat’s view the world in vertical terms. They are hunters and in some cases, prey as well. Being in a high place gives them an advantage over their prey. It also provides security from larger predators and rival cats as they can see them coming. Since it’s instinctive, they crave to being on something that lets them be elevated in a household environment.

To make your cat’s life more interesting and to raise their feeling of security, you should create as much elevated locations in your house.

The easiest solution is cat trees. There’s a huge range in sizes, forms, and features. All you have to do is choose one that fits well in your home. Besides that, cat trees can also serve as scratching posts. If you read above, you’ll understand the advantages of having a large, stable cat tree over a tiny standalone scratching post.

Cat trees also provide several sitting and sleeping options. Different heights, low, middle, and high ones. Multiple height options are also very beneficial in multicat households.

Another good option is a window perch. This is a platform that may be attached next to a window sill, which effectively enlarges it. Look for one that has a soft surface and are suitable for sleeping and sitting on. This way your cat gets two advantages, an elevated location and also an outdoor view. However, expanding your cat’s vertical territory by window perches only is not the best solution as you still need some locations that are higher than that.

Cat shelves are another option every cat parent should consider. They are a great choice for both sleeping and sitting locations while making pathways above the ground level. Have you considered two platforms in different corners of your room connected with a long shelf? It takes some planning and work from your side but your feline friend will love it.

When planning out how to provide your new kitten or existing indoor cat, we highly recommend you starting with a few cat trees in different locations. As you learn about your cat’s personality, you may plan shelves and above ground level paths for your cat with greater confidence. Just remember if you think your cat’s personality is being lazy, maybe it’s just they don’t have fun things to do in their home. Here’s a great article about environmental enrichment for cats.

IMPORTANT: You don’t need specific shelf made for cats. It must support your cat’s weight, especially when they are jumping from shelf to shelf. You may consider covering the cat shelves you install with a soft fabric.

How much exercise does your kitten need per day?

As we’ve mentioned above, cats are natural born hunters. In their natural environment, a cat would spend most of their waking hours stalking and hunting for their next meal.

In the household, the kitten food is provided on a silver platter. Eating requires no exercise at all. This means, the exercise your cat is used to and needs, is carried out in some other form, in most cases by playing. Skipping this will result in behavior problems, like waking you the cat owner at night, vocalizing, or destroying your house.

If you want to provide a full and active life for your cat, you should provide them different types of play. Your cat will be playing with you using cat toys that can be directed by you. Like a feather attached to a string on a stick type cat toy, a ball that rolls on the floor, or a treat puzzle where your cat has to play with the toy to receive a treat.

Unfortunately, you can’t be home all the time so toys that you can hang in a doorway, puzzle toys, and even electronic ones may be helpful if you want your cat to get the exercise They need.

Where will your cat sleep?

Not all cats need a specifically made cat bed. You should think of a place where your cat will want to sleep. Either it’s a simple bed bought at a pet store, or a middle shelf of the cat tree you bought for them. It also may be a blanket placed on a table or even bedding set up for your cat. Research has shown most cats usually prefer hard surface with a soft fabric over it to sleep on.

Many cats love sleeping in the bed of their owners. We think it’s allowable, but you must stick to your decision. It’s always yes, or always no. It can’t be both ways depending on your mood and the weather. That will only confuse your cat.

No matter which you choose, it is wise to provide several sleeping locations. Provide spots in different rooms, different heights, closer and further from HVAC vents, and with different surfaces. That way your cat gets to choose where they sleep.

Cat claw trimmers

If you intend to have an indoor cat, it might be a wise idea to acclimate them to trimming their nails regularly. Start at an early age and do it once a week or every other week. First, it helps to reduce the damage to your furniture and your your hands. Second, it will save them trouble if they are a bit lazy with trimming claws by using a scratching post.

Nail trimming will require training. This procedure is not particularly welcomed by kittens and adult cats. If you do it regularly and reward your cat after, your cat will learn to tolerate it. We will wrote a beginners guide on How to easily trim your cat’s nails.

If you plan to let your cat outdoors, claw trimming may reduce their ability to climb trees to evade predators and to defend themselves.

We recommend that you use a specific cat claw trimmers. Those have an opening where you can put the claw in and then trim it. They are easy to operate and may give you additional trimming speed and accuracy if your cat is not so willing to cooperate.

Of course, if you aren’t able to acclimate your cat to claw trimming, you may consider taking them to your veterinary clinic for this procedure.

Tools for brushing your cat

Brushing is a must for long haired cats, as they need brushing almost daily. There is a misconception that shorthaired cats don’t need brushing. The good news is that most cats love being brushed. No matter their fur length, having a cat brush is a wise idea and can help forming loving relationship with your cat.

For long haired cats, we recommend having several pin combs with different widths between the pins.

A shorthaired cat will benefit from a slicker brush or a bristle brush. A fine comb may be beneficial as well.

No matter what your cats hair length is, or color of your cat, you will benefit from getting a lint roller for your clothes. Trust us on this one, we have lint rollers in our closet, in the kitchen, the bathroom, and our veterinary clinic since we have multiple cats and dogs.

Toothbrush and toothpaste for cats

It’s a common misconception that cats don’t clean their teeth in the wild so they don’t need their teeth brushed.

First, cats in the wild don’t live as long as an indoor cat. This means there’s less time for their teeth to decay. Second and most importantly, diet in nature is much more teeth cleaning friendlier as it does clean their teeth. Much more so than the dry kibble most domestic cats eat.

It’s important to get a toothbrush and toothpaste that is specifically made for cats. Cats don’t spit the toothpaste out we like humans do. A human toothbrush will be too hard for your cat’s teeth.

We’d recommend starting with a toothbrush you can slip on your finger. There are also some other tooth cleaning options like sprays, wipes, chews, and more. They aren’t ideal, but are still better than doing nothing for your cat’s teeth.

Please understand that at first, it may seem impossible to clean your cat’s teeth. However, if you do it daily, your cat will soon learn to accept it and it will become easier and easier. For more details on keeping your cat’s teeth clean and healthy, here’s our article on 7 ways to keep your cat’s teeth clean without brushing.

Cat car carrier

Even though cats prefer not to travel, at some point you will need to take them somewhere. For example, when visiting your vet.

Get a carrier which is large enough for your adult cat to turn around in it, and so they can rise their head while lying . Remember that if you have a kitten, they will grow up. You can read more about the best size of the cat carrier here.

Look for a cat carrier that has the ability to remove the top part of it. If you train your cat to accept their carrier, it may make vet visits less dreadful for both of you. Also look for a cat carrier that has a lockable door. We much prefer what are called pet crates which have hard sides made of plastic which can be secured to your car which is much safer if the worst happens.

Also, when you get a carrier, don’t put it away. Leave it accessible for your cat, so they don’t associate it with vet visits only. Here’s our guide on How To Travel With A Cat In A Car: Top 16 Tips.

Identification for your cat

Identification is a critical essential in case your cat gets lost. It can be as simple as an ID tags attached to a collar or a microchip. We’d recommend having both for double security. The concern with an ID tag is that it may come off if your cat’s collar fails. But it’s available for your neighbor to read as they likely won’t have a chip reader.

Microchipping can be done at most veterinary clinics. The chip is implanted without anesthesia under the skin just like a vaccination. They are inserted under the extra skin on the scruff of their neck.

Each microchip carries its own unique identification number. It’s important that you keep your contact information up to date in the microchip’s website. Talk to your veterinarian about what different microchips are available in your area. The chip is incredibly valuable in identifying your cat in case they get lost. Chips can be scanned at most vet clinics and pet shelters. This way if your cat ends up there, their microchip will be scanned, your information will pop up, and you can reunited with your four legged fur baby. A microchip can also resolve any ownership disputes.

An ID tag is a simple label attached to your cat usually on their collar. It should be engraved with your contact information. In most cases, your phone numbers is the only necessary information. Outdoor cats may benefit from having your address as the person finding your cat may check if they are really lost or are just wandering nearby. For indoor cats, it might be a wise to statie that your cat is an indoor one. In this case, a person finding your cat will have no any doubt that your cat is lost.

It’s a common misconception that indoor cats don’t need identification. Many indoor cats get lost every year so having an ID and microchip may be instrumental in their return to you.

First aid kit for cats

In case your cat gets injured or anything bad happens, you should always turn to your veterinarian. In some instances, the situation may require a faster reaction from you.

Normally a first aid kit should consist of bandages, sterile gauze pads, cotton pads, scissors with blunt edges, antiseptic cleaner, hydrogen peroxide, and more. Just make sure the kit you get is intended for pets and not humans.

We also recommend you attend a first aid course for pets. You’ll learn not only how to help your cat in critical situations, but to recognize when your cat isn’t well and a veterinary visit might be necessary in less urgent situations.

We hope this article was beneficial for you and you enjoyed reading it, as much as we enjoyed creating it. There may be a lot more cat stuff and accessories you will need at some point or another. The above kitten essentials create a complete list of things you will initially need.

Now you are ready to bring your new kitten home. You have everything on the new kitten checklist of kitten essentials and accessories your new kitten will need. This will get you started to a long and happy life with your new kitten. And keeping your Pet Happy is what we all want.

Please read our next article in which we will explain how to introduce a kitten to their new home. This will reduce the stress on them and you as much as possible.

This article is a part of a series about getting your first cat.

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