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Fluffy kitty fur, twitching tails, cute kitty mews and attitude to boot!. Whenever I see a cat I get all gushy – even if it’s just a cute video!
As adorable as they are, though, I can tell you from experience that kitties are not low maintenance, despite what you may have heard. They need your time, your love, veterinary care, a healthy diet, and lots of supplies to ensure they live a healthy, happy life. Plus, you need to budget for their care and remember they can live anywhere from 12-18 years, (sometimes longer)! This is a serious commitment.
If you’ve just gotten your first furry little bundle of joy, or if you’re thinking of bringing a new feline home, you’re in for a treat! The bond you form with your cat will stay with you for a lifetime.
One thing my own cats, Turtle and Olivia, have taught me is the importance of the first few hours and days after adopting a new cat. Giving them a thoughtful start can set the stage for how well and how quickly they adjust to your home and lifestyle.
Before Your Cat Comes Home
Kittens and cats may be relatively small, but they need a lot of care supplies! Before you bring your new kitty home you’ll want to stock up on the essentials (and maybe a few more). Make sure that your cat has:
- Food dishes. Make sure that whatever you choose is low enough for your tiny friend to eat comfortably. If you’ve absolutely got your heart set on that raised cat dish, you may want to start out with something a little shorter first. Automated pet feeders, such as this one from PetSafe, allow you to monitor and control your cat’s meals using your smartphone!
- Water dishes. You could settle for a simple water dish, but if you want to give your kitty something healthier to drink from, try a fountain. My girls love theirs, and I don’t have to worry nearly as much about whether they’re drinking as much as they should (and I don’t have to leave the bathroom faucet dripping for them either!) A fountain appeals to kitty’s natural instinct to drink moving water, plus they’ve got filters so you know your cat will always have plenty of clean, fresh water. I love this one by PetSafe. Though it might be a little too high for a brand new kitten, it’s definitely worth bringing out once she’s big enough.
- Cat food. Find out what your kitty has been eating at the shelter or foster home. Even if you plan on feeding her something different eventually, transitioning her slowly is usually the best choice. I highly recommend you ask your veterinarian to recommend the best diet or formula for your kitten or cat that’s within your budget. I give my girls high protein, grain free food from I and love and you . They make dry kibble and canned food too.
- Collars and ID tags. Indoors is paws down the safest place for kitties, but even indoor felines should wear a collar and an ID tag at all times. You never know when your cat will discover her inner escape artist, and you want whoever finds her to know right where to bring her! PetHub’s ID tags include a unique QR code that links to your cat’s online profile. Plus, they’re super cute! Most importantly, PetHub gets lots pets home faster than any other tag, thanks to the extensive online profile for your pet, their speedy and friendly customer service, and their dedication to reuniting you with your lost pet.
- Leash and harness. Some cat parents enjoy walking with their feline friend, if she’ll tolerate it. But even if the only outing your kitty ever makes is her regular wellness visit to the vet, you’ll definitely find it easier to get her in and out of her carrier if she’s on a leash! I love these sweet collar and leashes from Blueberry Pet.
- A carrier. And speaking of vet visits, the safest way for kitty to ride anywhere in the car is in a carrier. You can make it nice and cozy for her by filling it with warm soft blankets for her to snuggle in.
- Litter box. Most cats aren’t particularly fussy about the type of litter box they use, but from a cat parent’s purr-spective, some are definitely better than others! If your budget allows, a self-cleaning litter box is paws down the most convenientway to go. My fave is the Litter-Robot. It automatically separates waste from clean litter and sends you a notification when it’s time to empty the waste drawer. Click on my Litter-Robot link here or in the sidebar of this page and you’ll get $25 off!
- Cat litter. Not all cat litters are created equal. Clay litters are not earth-friendly, and many of them contain chemicals and perfumes that aren’t the best thing for your cat either. I absolutely love World’s Best Cat Litter. It’s made from naturally absorbent corn, it’s great at controlling odor, and it clumps really well, so it’s easy to scoop and keep the litter box clean. It comes in several different formulas, but my favorite is the lavender scented.
- Scratching posts and cat trees. Cats need to scratch, and they love to survey their world from a high spot. You can lessen the chance that kitty will dig her claws into your favorite armchair or use your curtains as a path to the top of the bookcase by giving her an appropriate way to fill those needs. I love this one that combines scratching, climbing, and hiding out into one fun structure.
- Lots of toys. Toys are a great way for you to play and bond with your kitty without getting your hands scratched to death. Plus they can keep her entertained when you’re not around. Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy combines play time and scratching into one fun toy! Try buying a bunch of toys and rotating them every few days so the novelty never wears off.
- Beds and Caves. Kitty needs a soft place to land after all that play time. I’m paw over tails in love with these beds and caves from Dharma Dog Karma Cat. They’re made from pure wool and the company has partnered with women’s collectives, socially conscious artisans, and family run businesses in Nepal to created unique felted beds and caves.
- Pet Insurance. Routine wellness care is one thing, but unexpected emergencies and illnesses can come up, and they can be expensive! An insurance policy from a respected company like Petplan is one of the best ways to plan for the unexpected. Over the years, my pet insurance has literally saved me thousands of dollars. Plus it gives me the peace of mind of knowing that I’ll always be able to afford the best veterinary care for my furry friends.
Cat-Proofing Your Home
Kitties have a knack for getting into mischief, but if you take the time to cat proof, you can help her avoid cat-astrophe.
- Keep string and cords out of reach. Kitties love to play with anything long and stringy, but they can easily become tangled and choke. It’s best to stash the string and tie your blind cords up out of reach. Beware of electrical cords too – some kitties love to chew on them. Put your cords in a cord protector or coat them with something that tastes bad.
- Stow away cleaning supplies and medications. Child proof containers aren’t necessarily cat proof! Keep all potentially poisonous substances out of reach (preferably in a cabinet equipped with child-proof latches.)
- Know your plants. Kitties love to nibble on greenery, but not all plants are cat-safe. Put away or throw away anything that could make your feline friend sick.
- Pay attention to dangerous spots. Cats love to squeeze in to small, tight spaces, so recliners, sleeper sofas, and dryers are all potentially dangerous. You probably can’t get rid of these things, but it’s a good idea to know where your kitty is before you fold out the recliner or start the dryer.
- Put away breakables. Never assume that your kitty won’t find a way to that top shelf where you’ve stashed grandma’s crystal vase. Until you’ve seen your little acrobat’s capacity to climb, it’s best not to leave out anything you don’t want knocked over. You may want to put away table cloths and raise your long drapes too – many cats find them irresistible!
The First Few Days
Keep kitty in a small space. It can be a little overwhelming for a cat to come to a new home. Everything is unfamiliar, and there’s all that new space to explore. You can make the transition a little easier for your new cat by restricting her to a single room (like a laundry room or a bathroom) for the first couple of days. If you decide on the bathroom, keep the toilet seat down so kitty doesn’t fall in while she’s exploring. Make sure she’s got a nice secure place to hide out while she adjusts. When she begins to feel more comfortable, then your can expand her boundaries.
Don’t force her to socialize. Even though you’ll be dying to hold and cuddle your new kitty, you’ll want to allow her to get to know you on her own terms. The best approach is probably to sit still and let her come to you. Don’t take it purr-sonally if she retreats to a private spot and hides. She’ll come around eventually.
Once kitty is comfortable with you and with her new home, spending time together is a must. The first few days and weeks go by so fast, but if you spend time playing, snuggling, and bonding you’ll be rewarded with a special feline friend for life!