Before you welcome your furry companion into your home, there are a number of items you will need to ensure that they are properly provided for. Below is a list to help you to prepare for your new pet’s arrival.
A safe and secure carrier is essential for transporting your pet. Carriers that have a top opening option are often easier to get your pet in and out of. Make sure that the basket you purchase is large enough for your cat to comfortably sit in and turn around. Transporting your cat can be traumatic, particularly for scared cats, so getting them used to the basket beforehand, and covering the basket during transporting, can help reduce this stress. Placing a lovely soft blanket in the carrier and encouraging them to use it as a place to sleep can help. When in the car, always secure the basket with a seatbelt.
Litter tray(s), litter scoop and litter
You will need at least one litter tray per cat. They range from shallow dishes to high sided trays with lids. Make sure that the litter tray is appropriate for your cat: kittens need shallow trays to be able to get in and out of easily, while other cats need high sided or even covered trays to ensure that they go inside the box. Put the litter tray in an obvious, but quiet place so your cat has privacy when toileting. Leave the lid off the litter tray when your cat first arrives, so they can easily find their toilet.
There are many different types of litter to chose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Some cats are not fussy and will use any litter while others are very particular about the type of litter that they prefer, and if they do not like the type of litter you have provided they might not use their box. Your cat’s fosterer will be able to tell you which litter your cat is comfortable using. The litter tray should be cleaned twice a day, and more frequently if needed, and washed regularly.
Food and water bowls and food
We recommend that ceramic or metal bowls are used, especially for water, as plastic bowls can give the water a funny taste which could discourage your cat from drinking and this may cause medical issues for your beloved feline. A clean, fresh water bowl must be provided for your cat every day, and water must be available at all times.
Ask your fosterer about the type of food your new cat is eating and prefers. They may need a specific type of food for medical reasons. Cats should be fed at least two meals a day – in the morning and evening – with kittens getting smaller, more frequent meals. We recommend that you continue to feed your new cat the same food they were being fed by their fosterer so that they don’t have to deal with too many changes at once. After your cat has settled, if you want to try a different food, introduce this gradually over several days.
Scratching posts range from single vertical or horizonal sisal-covered poles to elaborate cat trees which are a delight for cats to play on and sleep in. Cats usually show a preference for either a vertical or horizontal scratching surface. These are important to cats for scent marking, enabling them to stretch and strengthen their muscles and keep their claws sharp. Make sure that the post is big enough – often posts are too short for cats to stretch out fully. It is essential to provide a scratch post, otherwise you may find your furniture or carpet is used as an alternative.
Cat basket / bedding
Some cats will regularly use a cat bed while others prefer to sleep on windowsills, the sofa or on their owner’s bed. Your cat needs a warm, quiet and comfortable place to sleep where it can feel secure. When you first introduce your cat to your home, providing a “hidey hole” or safe spot for your cat is very important. Try not to approach your cat in their safe spot. Instead, encourage interaction with your new friend with food and play.
There are many cat toys to chose from: ping pong balls, catnip mice and a feathery toy on the end of a “fishing rod” are a firm favourite for many cats. You do not need to spend lots of money – often the simplest toys are the best: a string on a stick or a scrunched up ball of newspaper can provide endless entertainment for your playful companion. Be aware that some toys can be potentially dangerous – cats and especially kittens can get tangled up in string or try to eat/swallow small toys, so make sure that these are only available to them under supervision. It is a good idea to “cat proof” your home in the same way as you would for a toddler. Some cats love a laser pointer, but be very careful not to allow the light or reflected light (off shiny surfaces) to shine directly into their eyes, as this can damage their vision.
Other things to consider
It is a good idea to register your cat with your vet and make sure you have their phone number and address details easily available if needed in a hurry. Carefully consider pet insurance, and if you decide not to take this out for your pet, make sure that you have a contingency fund in case you suddenly end up with an unexpected visit to the vet. Also think about how your cat will be looked after if you go on holiday – will you have a pet-sitter, neighbour or family member look after your pet or will you take your cat to a cattery?