So you’ve just added a ball of furry love to your life and have no idea what the next steps are! That’s okay! While it may seem overwhelming, there’s really not that much is needed!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure here.
What Do I Need for my New Kitten?
Fortunately, kittens really don’t need too much and aren’t as high maintenance as dogs. There’s really only a few basics that are necessary: food, litter box and something to scratch. That’s it! Seriously!
To begin with, you will need some food. Now if this is your first time walking down the cat food aisle at your local pet store or Walmart, then it can certainly be a little overwhelming. There are a A LOT of options! The cat food industry is huge and as such you can find a huge selection of food of different types, prices and quality.
The breed of your cat can dictate the type of food she eats. Most cats have allergies to grains, especially those closer to their feral ancestry. As such, grain free food may be a better option. If you notice that your cat has brown goo leaking from her eyes, she likely has a grain allergy and a diet change will likely clear that up.
Another great option (and the one we use for our cats) is a raw food diet. This is literally raw meat that has been ground up (bones, cartilage and all) that cats eat uncooked. Think about undomesticated cats, what do they eat? Mice, birds, and other small critters that they catch. They eat it meat and all, including the contents of the critters’ stomachs. Since this diet best mimics what a cat would naturally eat, it is considered the best option by many cat enthusiasts!
So how do you choose? With so many options it can be overwhelming. Things to consider when choosing the food beyond breed and specific dietary needs is your budget, the frequency of feedings and the preparation involved. Raw food is the most labour intensive diet, as extra care needs to exercised to keep you and kitty healthy. A wet food diet also requires a bit more clean up and feeding frequency than simply throwing down some dry food. Think about the daily ins and outs of your life and your tolerance for extra clean up and preparation.
No matter what diet and brand of food you choose, it is incredibly helpful to find out the food kitty was eating in her prior home. This is very useful for helping her transition to a new food if you so choose. Of course, you can stick with the diet that she was previously fed.
Cats can be incredibly finicky when it comes to their food and often will reject new textures and/or flavours. Slowly introduce the new food by mixing very small amounts into the food she is used to. This will effectively “hide” the taste/texture and help her get used to it. After a few days, add a bit more, then a few days later, a bit more, and so on and so forth until she’s completely transitioned. Of course, your new baby may love her new food more than the old, and if that’s the case, simply skip the mixing and let her dive right in!
Certainly, it makes sense that there is a large selection of food choices and brands for your kitty, but you may be quite surprised by the variety of litter and litter boxes for cats!
Fortunately, so long as cats are healthy and the area is clean, they aren’t usually too particular about where they go to the bathroom! This gives their humans more control over a litter process that works best for them. After all, it is the human who will be doing the digging!
Choosing a Litter Box
There are many different types of litter boxes that can be used for kitty. From ones that clean themselves, to ones that act as a toilet seat, to traditional models with or without hoods – there is a litter box that will work for just about everyone!
Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes
I’m personally a big fan of self-cleaning litter boxes, especially the SCOOP FREE brand. This is simply because cleaning excrement is gross. Plain and simple. These litter boxes do the hard work for you and typically require an emptying every once and a while. Of course, since these litter boxes do so much work, they do come at a higher price than your run of the mill litter box. Their litter refills also tend to be much more expensive. Nevertheless, if convenience is your thing, these can be worth every single penny!
Toilet Litter Boxes
Have you seen “Meet the Fockers”? The classic 90s Ben Stiller movie stars (well, in my humble opinion) a cat named Jinx who uses the toilet. Now, if all you want to worry about is flushing your kittens “leftovers” then training them to use the toilet is a great option! The CitiKitty Toilet Training Kit is one of the most popular cat toilet training products available. Of course, you may have to be flexible on sharing the bathroom, but with a little patience, clean up will be a breeze!
Traditional Litter Boxes
Even with all the fancy options out there, cats are totally happy to use traditional litter boxes. If going the traditional (and most popular) route, you often get the choice of a litter box with or without a lid. Personally, we prefer lids on our litter boxes since our cats tend to kick up a storm afterwards. A lid helps contain the mess and avoid extra vacuuming and general clean up on the human’s part. The lid also gives kitty a bit more privacy in case she is a bit shy in the bathroom.
Regardless of the litter box that you choose, consider your kitty’s size. Cats are good jumpers and if they are old enough to be separated from mom, then they should be able to jump into a litter box of any size. So while it might be tempting to get a small box for kitten, when she grows into adulthood, that small box may not give her enough room to comfortably go. This can lead to accidents throughout your home, which is no fun. So, when choosing a litter box think about the future and how big kitty likely will be. This is will help give her a more private toileting experience and result in less clean up for you.
Once you have the litter box picked out, you will need to fill it with some sort of litter.
Typically, self-cleaning litter boxes need a particular type of litter. The SCOOP FREE, for instance, needs a crystal litter. If you are choosing a non-traditional litter box, be sure to check its specific needs.
However, for the most part the litter box you choose will be able to handle any type of litter. But, with so many options, how do you choose? As mentioned before, cats typically aren’t too picky about their litter (so long as it’s clean) and won’t put up too much of a fuss. Thus, the choice of litter is based on what works best for you!
Here are some of your kitty litter options:
Crystal cat litter is one of the more expensive options for kitty. These crystals are typically blue in colour or clear. When the blue starts to fade, then it’s time to change the litter; or when the clear take on colour, it’s time to change. The crystals are incredibly effective in absorbing odours and don’t stick to cats’ fur the same ways as traditional litter, thus reducing the amount of litter that tracks out of the box keeping the area cleaner. It is also dust free and comes in both scented or unscented varieties.
Corn cat litter is another great option for those who don’t want extra dust. Like crystal litter, corn litter tends to be more expensive, but with stronger odour control and less dust, it can be a great choice for many cat families. Not only does it hold odours well and can be up to 99% dust free, corn litter also tends to be more absorbent than traditional cat litter.
Wood Pellet Litter
For those who prefer more natural cat litter, like corn, wood pellet cat litter is another great choice. Wood cat litter is literally made with wood and as such is significantly more absorbent than traditional clay cat litter. This means, many brands are also flushable! This a great option for quick and easy disposal of kitty’s waste.
Clay cat litter is the litter that most are aware of and use. It lines the shelves of the cat aisles in stores and offers scented and unscented; clumping and non clumping; dust and dust free varieties. When shopping for clay litter consider your price point and how much you’re willing to spend for less dust and easier clean up.
Kitties need to scratch! It is how they de-stress and relieve energy. One of the best ways to save your furniture and curtains from kitty claws is by having scratching options that are easily accessible to kitty. Just like everything else, there are a ton of options for kitty scratching and it all comes down to your budget and space.
If you don’t have a lot of room or are working with a smaller budget, choosing a smaller scratching post is a good idea. There are scratchers that attach to walls and furniture and ones that stand alone. There are also many cardboard options, which while economical also tend to be much messier.
A quick search online will show you a plethora of cat trees and condos. These are great options as they not only give kitty something to scratch, but also a place to climb and rest. Cats love being able to perch and watch the world go by. A cat condo is a great option to give kitty the ultimate place to relax and de-stress.
So that’s it. While there’s a bit to consider, there really isn’t that much that kitty needs when she’s first brought home. Of course, there are many other items that can be picked up along the way and as you get to know each other and your lives evolve, you may find that other brands or products will work better. Don’t hesitate to switch things up until you find the perfect fit for your new family!