My family adopted two kittens from the local humane society over the winter break. The adoption process was pretty quick, but there was a surprising amount of paperwork. We joked it was like buying a car. We haven’t owned any major pets (no shade to our hamster Kevin) for almost a decade, so I had to do some research to find the best kitten essentials. I thought I would share this list for anyone else newly adopting cats.
Kitten Essentials: Litter Box
We splurged on an automatic litter box to make the transition to cat ownership as easy and simple as possible. Cleaning and scooping poop and pee is probably the least fun thing about being a cat owner.
This automatic one will alleviate all that unpleasantness. It’s expensive (around $200) and you need electricity, but I find it 100% worth it. The instructions do not recommend it for kittens under the age of 6 months, but we started using it right away with no issues. The kittens are always very interested in the raking when it starts and watches it intently.
The litter itself has a crystal-like structure and is very rarely dragged outside the litter box compared to other litters. The kittens were using a standard litter at the shelter but made the transition seamlessly.
To change the litter, you simply remove the bottom tray and replace it with a new one. These trays are disposable, so you never really need to “dump it.” Each tray is ~$19. For two cats, the manufacturer estimates one tray will last 10 – 15 days. A single cat can use one tray for 20 – 30 days. It’s a premium product but one that I find worth it.
As a side note, I will scoop out the poop from the compartment after 5-7 days if I smell it. I also put baking soda in the compartment, too.
Kitten Essentials: Kitten Food
After some research, I bought Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Chicken and Brown Rice kitten food. I spoke to the representative at the pet store and they recommended this one. It’s one of the best sellers and has healthy ingredients and key components for a balanced diet for growth and development.
The brand clerk also recommended starting the kittens on kibble. She explained that if you give them wet food first, they’ll refuse kibble in the future.
A couple of things to keep in mind when picking food. First, consider the ingredients. The primary ingredient should be real food (chicken, seafood). In addition, try to find out where the ingredients came from. People usually recommend US-based products to ensure quality.
We also picked up some treats. We bought the smallest bag of chicken and seafood flavors. The brand clerk explained that cats usually fall into two camps when it comes to flavor preferences: chicken or seafood. She made it sound like they rarely like both. For this reason, she suggested getting a broad range of flavors to see what your kitten likes best. We picked up a couple of flavors from the Temptations brand. Guess what? The kittens do not care about the flavor and will happily eat any treat.
Kitten Essentials: Food and Water Dish
There are tons of choices for water and food dishes and lots of different things to consider. For example, you can think about materials, aesthetics, if you want it elevated or at a ground level. I picked out this faux wood double bowl with removable steel bowls.
I really liked this one for several reasons. First, the removable steel bowls are easy to clean and refill. In addition, since it’s a double, it’s less likely to get pushed all around the kitchen. It’s also slightly elevated. For now, the kittens love it. I bought each their own but they tend to eat/drink from either bowl with no real discernment.
Kitten Essentials: Cat Bed
We thought a covered cat bed would be best because it will help the kittens feel safe and secure. The one above was the only decent-looking one in the store. While the kittens do go in there. It seems they much prefer to sleep in a chair. So maybe it’s not essential but nice to have?
Our family rule is if the kittens are in their bed/ house, we leave them alone. I have no idea if this is scientifically proven, but I was told that it teaches them that they have a safe place to retreat to if needed.
Kitten Essentials: Toys
Our kitten’s favorite toys are chasers (sticks with toys attached, likes this one or this set) and soft toys that they can carry and bat around. Of course, they also love a laser pointer. Every cat has their own preference, so I would recommend buying a multipack of toys and seeing what your kitten likes.
Kitten Essentials: Scratch Boards
I would highly recommend getting a scratch board to provide your cat with a safe and acceptable place to scratch instead of your furniture or carpet.
They pretty quickly figure out what to do with it. I try to direct the cats gently to the board and away from my furniture if they start stuffing their claws into something.
Kitten Essentials: Carrying Case
Lastly, we purchased this cat carrier. It does the job but any decent size one will be fine for kittens. We plan on picking up a second one now that the cats are already getting bigger. We’ll just grab this affordable one from Wal-Mart.
There you have our list of kitten essentials. We’ve had the cats for a little over a month and they have adjusted well and seem very happy! I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on other things that we love for the babies as we learn more.
We’ll get back to our regular topics (decorating) later this week.