New Cat Checklist & Tips for Pet Owners

New Cat Checklist & Tips for Pet Owners

Bringing a new cat into your home is an exciting adventure, but preparation is key to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your feline friend.

As a new cat owner, it's essential to have everything in place to meet your cat's needs and provide a loving environment before even bringing them home. 

To help you get started, our team here at Maya Pet put together a comprehensive checklist covering all the things you need for a cat. We’ve even included a handy printable version for you to take right to the pet store with you! 

Nutrient-Rich Food

Cat food should be the first item on your shopping list. Whether opting for dry food, wet food, or a combination of both, read the ingredient lists closely and choose high-quality, natural cat food that suits your cat's age and health requirements.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require a high amount of animal-based protein in their diet. Look for cat foods with a high-quality source of protein, such as meat, poultry, or fish. It’s best to stay away from foods that have a lot of additives and fillers that can upset the sensitive balance in your cat’s gut. 

The experts at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine recommend opting for cat foods  labeled to meet the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This ensures that the food provides the essential nutrients your kitty needs.

Because the food will likely be different from what your cat was eating at the shelter or in their previous home,  make a gradual transition to avoid digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation. 

Flavorful Treats

Treats are important when it comes to bonding with your new cat and easing the adjustment to their new environment. Like food, it’s best to look for protein and nutrient-dense treats that align with your cat’s nutritional needs. 

Cats are notoriously picky. You may want to get a couple of different options — like creamy, lickable treats or single-ingredient freeze-dried treats — until you find out what they like best. Again, steer clear of treats with lots of fillers and additives that can cause digestive issues. 

Use the treats to enforce positive associations and behaviors. Keep some treats in your pocket for when your cat approaches you and hide them around cat trees and scratching posts you want your cat to use.

Gut Health Supplement

Research has shown that gut health is a crucial aspect of a cat's overall well-being, and providing a gut health supplement can be especially important for new cats undergoing the transition to a new environment. 

Here are several reasons why a gut health supplement is beneficial, particularly for new feline companions:

  • Stress from changes in environment, routine, and even diet can impact your cat’s digestive health. A gut health supplement may help support your cat’s digestive system during this transition.
  • The majority of the immune system resides in the gut. Maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora is important for new cats as they are exposed to different environments and pathogens.

If you’re looking to support your cat’s gut health during this adjustment period and beyond, Maya Pet is a must-have. Maya Pet goes beyond probiotics, boasting 10 Smart StrainsTM of good bacteria specifically chosen to help balance your cat’s microbiome and support overall wellness. 

And, unlike many common pet probiotics on the market, there are no artificial ingredients or flavorings that can cause reactions or ongoing issues. Maya Pet comes in a convenient powder form that makes it easy to sprinkle on your cat’s normal food. 

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Water and Food Bowls

Cat eats from automatic pet feeder

Your kitten is going to need somewhere to eat and drink, so pet bowls are a must. Find bowls that are easy to clean and convenient for your cat to use. 

Bowls made of stainless steel, ceramic, or glass are a great option because they’re generally dishwasher-safe and easy to wipe out. That said, you may want a second set of plastic or silicone dishes to keep in the car for travel and emergencies. 

Most cats don’t like to get their whiskers wet, so we recommend small, shallow bowls rather than large, deep ones. Many cats also love pet fountains as the moving water encourages them to stay hydrated. 

Comfortable Bed

Cat asleep in white sherpa cat bed

Your new cat will likely sleep about 15 hours per day, so they need a warm, safe bed to curl up in — especially while adjusting to their new surroundings. 

Consider plush materials like faux fur, sherpa, or fleece. Cats, especially kittens, find these comforting since they mimic the warmth and softness of a mama cat and litter mates. 

Removable, washable covers or cat beds that you can toss in the washing machine also help ensure your home stays sanitary and fresh. 

Litter Box and Cat Litter

Promote good potty habits from the get-go with a good litter box set up for your new cat. 

Choose a low-dust, natural cat litter and place the litter box in a quiet, easily accessible location. While cats like privacy, many cats can feel threatened or anxious in enclosed spaces, so it’s best to avoid covered litter boxes — at least at first. 

You may be wondering, “How many litter boxes do I need?” It depends on the number of cats in your household and the size of your home. Most pet behaviorists and vets recommend one litter box per cat, plus one extra. So, if you have three cats, you’d want four litter boxes placed throughout your house. 

If you live in a large or multi-level home, you may also want to make sure there’s at least one litter box per level to ensure your kitty does their business where they’re supposed to. 

Scratching Posts

Cats are going to scratch. If you’d prefer they don’t scratch up your nice furniture, which we’d imagine you do, it’s up to you as a cat owner to provide cat-friendly scratching posts that will satisfy their natural instincts.

Opt for scratching posts and scratchers made from natural materials like sisal rope or corrugated cardboard. These materials provide an appealing texture for scratching and are environmentally friendly. 

Vertical Spaces 

Cats are natural climbers, so vertical spaces that they can use to explore are important. Consider cat trees, shelves, or window perches that allow your cat to retreat to a safe, elevated space when needed. 

Make sure these perches are properly secured and have an appropriate weight limit for your cat. 

Cat Toys

Cat chases wand feather toy across window sill

As you get to know your cat and their preferences, invest in a variety of toys to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. 

While investing in some toys is good, don’t worry about spending too much. You may find that your new cat finds enjoyment in things you already have around the house, like empty cardboard boxes, paper bags, and even some string or yarn. 

However, if you’re looking to spoil your kitty just a bit, some good options found in the cat toy aisles include: 

  • A wand toy with string, ribbons, or feathers
  • Ping pong balls or jingle balls 
  • Crinkle or stuffed toys 
  • Catnip toys
  • Tunnels or sacks to crawl in

It’s best to use one toy at a time and rotate to maintain your cat’s interest.

Brush & Grooming Tools

Cats are pretty good at grooming themselves, but you need to brush your cat occasionally to prevent matting and reduce shedding. Grooming is also a great bonding opportunity for you and your cat. 

Depending on your cat’s needs, there are a variety of grooming tools and brushes available. Some common ones include: 

  • Slicker brushes with soft, fine bristles ideal for removing loose hair. 
  • Combs with wide and narrow teeth for detangling.
  • Grooming gloves for a gentle, hands-on approach.

Collar and ID Tag

A collar with an ID tag is your cat's first line of defense in unforeseen situations. Whether they explore a bit too far or there's an accidental escape, the ID tag provides essential information to facilitate their safe return.

Look for an adjustable collar made from soft, durable materials that won’t rub or irritate your cat's delicate skin. A snug, but not tight, fit is essential for both comfort and safety.

Breakaway or quick-release features are also recommended. They are designed to release under pressure, preventing accidental choking if the collar gets caught on an object.

Cat Carrier

Whether it's the first trip to their forever home from the shelter, a trip to the vet, or an exciting adventure, a reliable cat carrier is crucial for ensuring your cat's safety, comfort, and peace of mind.

Ensure the carrier is spacious enough for your cat to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It should also be sturdy enough to stand up to biting, clawing, and your cat’s anxious movements.

Multiple access points, such as a front door and a top-loading option, will also come in handy. Having options makes it easier to wrangle your cat inside if they are reluctant or anxious.

Enjoy Your New Best Friend

This list of cat necessities should get you started. However, each cat is unique. Pay attention to their individual preferences and adapt your toys, treats, and other cat supplies accordingly. 

Welcome to the wonderful world of feline companionship – may your home be filled with purrs, playfulness, and holistic happiness!

Have more questions? Our team is here to help. 

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