Cat Equipment Basics: What You Need

From collars and carriers to kitty litter and toys we take a look at all the equipment essentials you’ll need to care for your feline friend.

Bringing a new kitten home soon? How exciting! There’s nothing cuter than a playful, cuddly little furball of a kitten. Your kitten will quickly grow into an adult cat, and with a bit of luck, the two of you will be best friends for many years to come.

You can get the relationship off to a great start – and ease the nerves of both human and furball! – by making sure that you have everything your kitten will need.

Here’s a look at what you’ll need to have on hand when your kitten arrives.

KITTY LITTER

One of the perks of having a cat is that they’re inclined by nature to ‘go’ in the same area each time. No poop-scooping missions in your backyard will be necessary. But that means you’ll need to have a litter box for your cat.

There’s a wide range of options available. A litter box can be as simple as a plain plastic tray, or as complex as an automated poop-handler. Whatever works best for your budget and preferences will be fine.

But when it comes to the litter that goes in the box – well, your cat might have a say in what you use. If you notice your cat exhibiting some reluctance in using the litter box, it may be because of the litter. Try another brand. It might take experimenting with a few brands before kitty is content, but then all will be well.

BEDDING

Cats like to have a place to call their own for sleeping. When you’re shopping for a bed for your cat, you’ll find yourself faced with a huge array of choices. Whatever you buy should be soft and warm. It might be as simple as a pillow, but lots of cats show a preference for nest-type beds (usually shaped somewhat like a donut).

Of course, there’s a pretty decent chance that the cat will ultimately choose to sleep elsewhere – like in your bed with you. But still, it’s a good idea to have a kitty bed available for it.

SCRATCHING POSTS

Cats love to scratch. They need to scratch. And they WILL scratch; it’s instinctive! The only question is: What will your cat scratch? The smart move is to give your cat something that it will love to scratch, and that’s made for scratching.

That’s a scratching post.

As with most of the kitty equipment you’ll be buying, you’ll be able to choose from a multitude of brands and varieties. But here are a few tips for buying a just right scratching post for your pet:

  • It should be sturdy and stable. A cat can hit a post hard in a vigorous play attack, so you want to be sure that the post will remain in place and upright. A rubber base might be helpful.
  • It should be tall. In general, something in the range of 25 to 30 inches will probably be about right. It should be at least as tall as your full-grown cat’s reach when it’s standing on its hind legs.
  • It should probably be vertical. Most cats like vertical scratching posts. But a few seem to prefer horizontal scratching posts. So if you find that your cat doesn’t seem inclined to play with its vertical post, you might need to trudge back to the store for a horizontal post.

FOOD AND WATER BOWLS

You’ll need food and water bowls for your cat, of course. Stainless steel bowls are the favorites among vets because they are easy to clean and sterilize. Glass and ceramic are also popular. Plastic bowls aren’t recommended because they may retain smells that the cat will find repellent. Plastic bowls are also more likely to be host to a kind of bacteria that can cause a type of feline acne.

Whatever the material of the bowl, make sure that it’s shallow in design – especially if your cat is still a small kitten. The cat will be more comfortable if it can easily reach the food.

TOYS, TOYS, TOYS

Kittens are playful critters, and playtime is an important component in their development. Cat toys are great playtime tools, and just about any purpose-built toy that your cat enjoys will be fine. Just be sure that the cat can’t get any small pieces off the toy. Anything smaller than a ping-pong ball should be considered a potential choking threat.

And don’t offer your hand to your kitten to swat at as a play toy. It might be cute now, but it won’t be when the cat is larger and has become conditioned to attacking your hands for fun!

GROOMING

You’ll want to keep your cat looking cute with the proper grooming equipment. At a minimum, you’ll want to have a metal-toothed comb (careful not to get one with sharp teeth), a bristle brush, and a flea comb.

If you have a longhaired cat, you’ll probably also need

  • A wire brush (you can buy a wire/bristle combo brush if you wish)
  • A metal-toothed comb with alternating long and short teeth
  • A slicker brush

A deshedder tool might also belong on your want list. Deshedders remove loose hairs before they can cause matting on the surface of the cat’s coat, and will make grooming duties considerably easier.

COLLAR AND CARRIER

While you’re not likely to be taking your cat out for a walk with a lead and collar, it’s still a good idea to have a collar for your cat. The collar should offer either ‘break away’ or ‘snap away’ features. Those safety features could prevent your cat from becoming helplessly stuck should its collar should become snagged on something. And of course you should have an identification tag on the collar.

Be sure to also buy a cat carrier. It’s the only safe way to transport your cat, even if you don’t plan any trips longer than to the nearest vet. A loose cat in a car is NOT a good thing! Again, you’ll be faced with a bewildering array of choices. Just make sure that the carrier you choose is well ventilated and sturdy.

ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME

With a little bit of planning and careful shopping, you’ll have everything you need to make your house a happy home for your new furry friend. You’ll be laying the foundation for many years of happiness.