New Cat Checklist

By kleo

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This guide will take you through everything a cat owner needs to buy and prepare before bringing a new cat home.

We’ve carefully selected the best quality items for you at the best price to save you some research time. It’s highly recommended to take a look at our detailed information pages so that you can become experts yourselves, but this page will give you all the basics for a standard setup for a healthy, happy cat.

Cat Food Bowl and Water Bowl

All cats will need a water bowl to have constant access to fresh water to drink and a food bowl to eat out of at meal times. If you are feeding both wet and dry food, it’s a good idea to get a bowl for each type of food, because a dish used for wet food will need to be washed daily.

If you already have a cat and are adding a new cat, it’s best to get the new cat her own food bowl. That way you can closely monitor how much she is eating and what her eating habits are like. Once you are familiar with how your cats are eating and you can be sure that they will eat enough and won’t fight over it, your cats may be able to share bowls.

A good food and water bowl will be made out of stainless steel or ceramic. They are both equally good choices, but many people prefer stainless steel because ceramic can crack or break. If you buy a high quality stainless steel bowl and take proper care of it with frequent cleanings, it should not rust and will last a long time. However, some poorer quality bowls may develop rust, especially if you are not cleaning it frequently. For this reason, some people prefer the ceramic bowls. It’s up to you and it will probably depend on your cat’s eating habits (like whether your cat likes to kick the bowl around!).

Plastic is not a good material for cat food and water bowls because it’s a porous material and bacteria can get into the material easily. The bacteria in the plastic will not wash out easily, even if you wash it thoroughly with soap and water. Many cats can even have an allergic reaction to eating and drinking out of plastic bowls and can develop skin problems around their face and mouth that resembles acne. So be safe and stick to stainless steel or ceramic!

Stainless Steel Bowls

Here is a recommended stainless steel bowl for your cat. These are recommended because they are non-skid so your cat won’t move it across the floor while eating or drinking.

Ceramic Bowls

Ceramic dishes can be fun because they come in fun colors and patterns.

Cat Toys

Cats need toys to burn off all of that energy and to help exercise both their minds and bodies. It also helps them direct their energy and playfulness in appropriate ways. Many of these toys will help you interact with your cat in a way that keeps your fingers and feet at a safe distance from your cat’s claws, making play more fun for both of you. When you get a new cat, it’s a good idea to bring home a variety of toys so that you can discover what types of toys your cat really likes and enjoys. Here are some different types of toys that are good for different types of play and behavior in cats.

Remember to avoid cat toys that have pieces of material that could break off and be ingested by your cat, especially things like string and ribbon.

Balls for Cats

Many cats love chasing after balls since the movement of a ball across the ground is similar to prey like mice that cats also love to chase. Balls can be made extra fun if there is something inside, like a bell that makes noise or treats that smell good.

Food Holding Toys for Cats

Speaking of toys with treats in them, be sure to try out a food dispensing treat for your cat. Your cat will enjoy working at it and getting the reward of a tasty snack. It’s excellent mental and physical exercise for your cat, and it will keep her attention over a period of time. You can even try feeding your cat’s full meal through a food dispensing toy to provide daily enrichment.

Wand Toys / Fishing Pole Toys for Cats

Wand toys, also called fishing pole toys, are cat toys that usually look something like a fishing pole. You hold onto one end, and the other end has a string attached to it, maybe with some feathers or other interesting things hanging on the end. When you shake the wand, it moves the string around in a way that is very enjoyable for your cat. These toys are great for cats as long as their play is supervised so that they do not ingest the string or anything else attached to it. It’s also a good idea to put it away when you’re done playing because it will keep the toy new and interesting the next time you bring it out to play.

Catnip Toys

Catnip is a type of plant (in the mint family) that contains a chemical that has a strong effect on some cats. Sensitivity to catnip is determined by genetics, so not all cats will react. Kittens do not develop the sensitivity until they are about six months old. All cats have a different response to catnip. Some cats get lazy and take a nap, some cats will eat it, some cats will go crazy with energy, and some will get overexcited with aggressive play. However your cat reacts, it is completely safe for your cat to sniff and eat.

Laser Cat Toys

Some cats go crazy chasing after a laser beam. It’s usually fun for the human too, because it requires minimal effort to give your cat a great work out running around the house. When you are done playing, toss a real toy to your cat so she can fulfill her instinct of actually grabbing onto something physical, otherwise she might feel too frustrated.

Cat Scratchers

Naturally cats love to scratch, which helps keep their nails trimmed. If you don’t provide your cat with a good scratcher, you will more than likely find your furniture scratched up instead.

Cat Food

There are exceptional benefits if you choose a high quality, healthy food for your cat. Choosing a good brand of food not only means a healthier cat and fewer trips to the vet, it also means your cat will have better breath, a smoother coat, and less behavioral issues. Although good quality food is more expensive, it’s more than worth it in the long run.

There’s a lot of options out there for cat food, and a lot of research. To learn more, click here for our page on Cat Food and Nutrition.

For a summary, it’s best to choose cat food that has meat listed as the first 5 ingredients. Grain-free brands are also typically better for cats.


Cat Collar

Although it is recommended to keep your cat indoors for safety, it’s always best to keep a collar on your cat in case she slips out the door. A collar and ID will help your cat get safely back to you. The best kind of collar has a safety feature to break away if your cat gets the collar stuck on something. The collar listed below is a great option for a breakaway collar, and comes in 5 different colors.


Cat Carrier

When you need to bring your cat somewhere (like the vet), you will need a carrier to keep your cat safe during transport. The Vari kennel is recommended because cats will not be able to scratch through it and break loose. It also meets requirements for airline travel in case you ever need to bring your cat on a plane.

Cat Bed

Cat beds are not just for a comfortable place for your cat to sleep. They are important because it gives your cat her own space – a place she can relax or go to get away from the rest of the activities of the house. All of the other spaces in the house belong to humans and are subject to the rules of the people living there, but a cat bed provides a safe space where your cat doesn’t need to worry about being in the way.

Another great thing about cat beds is that it will help encourage your cat to stay off your comfortable furniture like couches and beds that you do not want to get fur/dirt on or get scratched up.

At the most basic level, you could always use old blankets/towels/comforters as a cat bed. Most cats are a bit more comfortable with the options below.  You get what you pay for with cat beds, so the more expensive ones will tend to last much longer.

There are three main types of cat beds:

  • Mats are simply a flat pad that is soft and cozy
  • Circular Cup Beds are a circular shape and have raised sides for your cat to cuddle against
  • Covered Cat Beds are beds that have a top that provides a safe cave-like space for your cat

Some recommended options are below. If you are not sure which one to pick, go to our guide for choosing a cat bed. 

Cat Litter Box

It’s extremely important to take the time to pick out a good litter and litter box for your cats. One of the most common behavioral problems in cats, and one of the top reasons cats are relinquished to shelters is due to “inappropriate elimination”, and in most cases this is due to human error of not providing a good litter box and litter situation.

Why is this such an issue with cats? Because cats have a very strong sense of smell that is much more sensitive than human sense of smell. This means that cats are very particular about having a clean bathroom space. Just think about the last time you were in a port-a-potty. It’s not pleasant, and cats don’t like it one bit if they don’t have a clean space to eliminate. Humans flush the  toilet after each and every use, and cats want that same cleanliness for their own bathroom area too, otherwise they will find a cleaner spot to eliminate. That means it’s very important that you clean the litter box 2 times every day, and have at least 2 litter boxes in the house (plus one more for each additional cat in the household).

For a new cat owner, it’s recommended to get 2 large uncovered litter boxes. Covered litter boxes can be an acceptable choice in some circumstances, but cats don’t prefer them as much because they can be more cramped and smelly, and cats can feel cornered and unsafe in them.

The larger the litter box the better it is for your cat! Many cat owners purchase litter boxes that are too small only to find out their cat refuses to use it and eliminates in other places around the house instead. Of course, you will need to make sure you plan enough space for it.

The Petmate Giant size is the biggest and therefore the highest recommended, but if the space in your house does not allow for it there are smaller sizes also available that are still acceptable to most cats.

Cat Litter

Choosing the correct cat litter for your cat is just as important as choosing the correct litter box. It’s very important that you get unscented litter because cats are so sensitive to smells that it can discourage them from using it. The other important factor is that the litter should be clumping, because this allows you to remove urine and keep the litter box clean.

Many times you can find litter that is marketed for single cat use vs. multi-cat use. Litter for multi-cat households is usually a bit stronger and clumps better, which helps cats share litter boxes.

Cleaning and Upkeep Cat Supplies

This section lists some items that are don’t necessarily need to go on your list, but should be strongly considered depending on the needs of both you and your new cat.

Cat Brush

It’s a good idea to have a brush for your cat (even short-haired cats) because it will help reduce the amount of shedding around your house, and it will help reduce hair balls. Long haired cats should be brushed daily, and short haired cats should be brushed about once a week.

An excellent brush to use is the Furminator, which comes in variations for long haired cats and short haired cats, and in small and large sizes.

Cat Nail Clippers

Although cats do love to scratch their nails on scratching posts, it’s also a good idea to trim your cats nails. Cat scratchers don’t necessarily dull your cat’s nails, so if you clip them you will be sure your cat’s sharp nails don’t accidentally dig into you or your furniture

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