What You Need for Your First Cat
When it comes to collecting your first cat, there are a few essential items you need to have ready before they arrive. There are also some extras to consider that you may want to be part of the landscape before you collect them. Here are a few ideas of some of the main items.
So the big day rolls around. You have made the decision that a cat is the right pet for your family, you have researched breeds or shelters and selected your kitten. Now the day is coming quickly when you will collect the newest member of your family. But what essentials do you need to have ready for their arrival?Basics
The first thing you will need are food and water bowls, along with a place to put them. Cats are creatures of habit so they need to learn early on where their food is and it needs to stay in the same place, so wherever you pick, be certain it is a long term spot. It never hurts for it to be somewhere quite obvious so that the cat can find it easily and not far from where you store the cat food to save carrying bowls through the house – the cat’s anticipation of arriving food is just liable to trip you up if there’s too big a distance involved!
What goes in, must come out. The other essential cat product is the litter tray. There is a huge range of litter trays available and sometimes it may take a little trial and error to get the perfect one. Check out what type the cat has been trained with to give you an idea as this is what they will associate going to the toilet with. Many people favour open cat litter trays because cats find these less intimidating than closed in ones. Others go for automatic trays that clean themselves but remember that these can scare a cat, especially a kitten, and stop them using the tray.
Placement of the litter tray is also important – away from a high traffic area is ideal, easy to get to for cleaning purposes and the place the smell is least likely to be noticed. A downstairs toilet is a favour location.
Depending on what breed of cat you are getting, grooming tools may also be a basic piece of gear. Longhaired breeds such as Persians need regular grooming so the sooner your new cat gets used to their brush, the better. Shorthaired breeds need less grooming so this may be on the secondary list of items you buy.Making life easier
There are lots of products that work with the basics or serve their own special purpose to consider. One thing that is best to have from day one is a scratching post. Cats need to scratch and stretch and by providing them with a scratching post, they get into the habit early of using it instead of your furniture. It isn’t guaranteed that they will ignore the furniture for it, but the chances with one is far better than without.
A cat bed is another item that can be good to have when they first arrive. Some cats will use a bed and others won’t – I have four cats and only one ever sleeps in the cat bed. You can get beds that sit on the floor or ones that hang, even from a radiator. See if they had a bed in their first home to see what they prefer, otherwise perhaps start with something simple and fluffy to win them over.
Protective mats are another area worth trying from the start. You can get mats that go under the cat bowls to help collect mess and mats that work alongside the cat litter tray to collect up litter. Food mats don’t stop the mess that some cats create but make it easier to clean the area. Cat litter mats can help prevent cat litter trailing throughout the house, something most cat owners admit drives them to distraction.Fun stuff
Then it is on to the fun stuff – toys. Cat toys come in as many shapes, sizes and variations as cats do and it can be great fun buying them. It is worth selecting a few of your favourites to start with as too many may intimidate a kitten and those with catnip or catmint in can be a great starter. Around two thirds of cats are attracted to these herbs and will adopt the toy easier with traces of them present. Toys are a good substitute for the littermates they have left behind as well as for practising essential skills such as pouncing and chasing. Playing with your kitten with its toys is another great way to bond, as they will come to associate you with fun things that they enjoy.Conclusion
Don’t forget, before you depart to collect that little ball of fluff, you will need a proper carrier to bring them home in. Cat carriers are ideal because they keep the cat secure inside and have a handle on the top to allow ease of carrying. Resist all ideas of carrying them home or popping them in a cardboard box and invest in a proper carrier, which you will need in later times for vet trips as well.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a freelance writer but also owner of four cats and over 100 birds. I hope to bring both the good and bad things about having cats to people so no-one takes one home without knowing what to expect.