Naturally, you’ll still need to select the right kitty for your home (kitten or adult, purebred or mixed breed), but before you actually bring your new pet home, you have some preparations to make. But don’t worry! We’re right here to guide you through the essentials you need to have on hand before bringing a new cat home.
It's time to bring your kitty home — and the safest way to transport a cat is in a crate or carrier. It may be tricky to get him into the carrier the first time (although, as time goes on, you can train him to tolerate or even like his carrier!), but start off by selecting the right size carrier and making it cozy. You might even sprinkle some catnip or spritz pheromones inside to help make it extra appealing. Towel wrapping your cat like a burrito is also an option for getting a feisty, frightened cat into a carrier and, eventually, into his new home.
Food and Bowls
Feeding a cat can be simple: Pour food in the bowl, let Kitty eat and that's it, right? Well, in addition to choosing the right food for your cat, you'll also want to make sure you've got a proper bowl. Some cats will eat out of any bowl, but others are a bit more finicky and may require a bowl that's flatter and doesn't bump their whiskers as they chow down. And some cats may be sensitive to plastic bowls and can develop feline acne if fed from one. Once you have the food and food dish in place, check to make sure you're not planning to make any of these common cat-feeding mistakes.
While you don't necessarily need to overload your home with cat furniture in order to be a good pet owner, you do need to provide your cat with areas where she can scratch and perch. Scratching is a natural behavior that's actually really good for your cat, and a scratching post will allow her to scratch to her heart's content ... without damaging your couch. And providing her with a perch, cat tree or climbing system will allow her to survey her territory, stretch, exercise and otherwise emulate the way she might live outdoors in a secure and enriching environment.
Collar and ID
You might worry that there are inherent risks in putting a cat in a collar but that risk is minimal compared to the risk of losing your cat forever if he manages to sneak out of the house. Put your new cat in a cat-safe collar with a slide-on ID tag and add a microchip for extra security before you head for his new home. And if you're hoping to teach your cat to walk on leash, you'll need a halter rather than a collar for that.
Grooming can be a great opportunity to bond with your cat, so make sure you have the proper tools from the get-go. You'll want a brush, especially if the kitty in question is long-haired (and no, you should not use a human hairbrush on her). This isn't just important for keeping her fur from matting; it'll also help keep cat hair under control in your house. You'll also need to pick up a nail trimmer (don't worry — you can do it). If you're planning to give her a bath soon, grab shampoo that's appropriate for your cat's age and coat. Last but not least, get some gauze, a cat toothbrush or a finger brush made for pets and some pet-safe toothpaste and prepare to start a toothbrushing habit. It's one of the best things you can do for her health!
First Aid Supplies
Do you have a first aid kit ready to go for your pets? If not, put one together and consider including Dr. Patty Khuly's suggested items: antibacterial cleanser, gauze sponges, antibacterial gel or spray, Q-tips and cotton balls, styptic powder (or liquid), any medications your cat might be on, probiotics, artificial tears and a muzzle.
Cats bring so much into our lives: love, entertainment, lots of opportunities to learn something new ... and also plenty of messes. Be prepared with the right pet-safe cleaning products. You can find some great tips for fighting carpet stains here and remember that speed is a big factor in cleaning up pet mess before stains set, so consider having the products and supplies you need available in different parts of your house. If you're dealing with some serious smells, try an enzymatic cleaner.