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New Cat Owner Guide

If you're a cat person, you understand their intelligence, independence, and general perfection. Hence you also know that cats need to feel welcome, respected, and safe in their home. We, too, are cat people—not the Nastassja Kinski kind, either—so we take kitty care seriously. That's why we've compiled a list of cat supplies to have on hand when you bring kitty home, along with some tips we swear by (and probably learned the hard way). It'll save you gas money and, even more important, will allow you more time with kitty, as you'll be prepared ahead of time. That's smart. Smart like a cat.

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1. Scratching Post/Cat Tree or Cat House/Condo

  • Like children—and definitely some adults—cats need distractions and alternatives to naughty behavior. Enter the cat tree. Teaching cats (especially kittens) to use specific items for their instinctual need to scratch and/or sharpen their claws will avert those nightmares of kitty hanging from the new silk drapes in the living room.
  • Cardboard scratchers come in several shapes that appeal to cats. These are super affordable ways to prevent super expensive damage to your furniture. Kind of a no-brainer, no?
  • Serving cats' natural curiosity, cat houses or condos offer dual purposes of providing spots to scratch as well as surfaces to climb, hide in, and play and nap on. Pick your height and complexity, then sit back and watch the gymnastics. Cat condos come adorned with sisal, faux fleece, carpet, and more.
  • Smaller than cat houses or condos but equally as enticing are cat window perches and shelves designed for kitties. Easy to install and sturdy to use, perches and shelves give your kitty a room with a view.
  • Shop Cat Trees, Cat Scratching Posts, and Cat Houses

2. Litter Box(es)

  • Cats are amazingly instinctual when it comes to training. Just plop kitty right in the litter box when she comes home, and she'll have no trouble finding it from then on.
  • We recommend you have a litter box for each kitty, and/or one on each floor of your home.
  • Today's litter boxes are amazing – from simple plastic hoods and covers to really beautiful pieces of furniture that hide a litter box inside, check out the many styles of litter boxes from which to choose.
  • Daily scooping/upkeep is a must. Kitties will let you know if you're slacking in this area and will likely reprimand you with a personal deposit right outside the box.
  • If kitty misses a clean litter box, however, do pay attention, as this could be the sign of a urinary tract infection or other disturbance.
  • Shop Litter Boxes

3. Food & Water Bowl

  • Kitties love bubbling, cool water, and our considerable selection of fountain-type water bowls includes this feature, among many others. Clean, circulating water in ceramic, plastic, or stainless steel will help keep your kitty stay happily hydrated.
  • You'll find plenty of food bowls, but take a look at the latest, which feature mazes and activities surrounding kitty's kibbles—might as well have a genius cat, right? Auto-feeders, timed feeders, and so much more are available to make kitty's feast fun.
  • Shop Food and Water Bowls

4. Grooming Utensils

  • Starting off on the right paw is crucial when it comes to grooming. If your cat is matted already, please take her to your veterinarian or groomer and ask for a lion's cut. Mats can irritate and pull skin, truly hurting kitty. And lion's cuts are adorable.
  • That said, daily brushing will help prevent mats from forming in the first place. Try a few different kinds of brushes, combs, and gloves, and you'll soon find the one that leaves kitty smooth, gleaming, and not seething with hatred for you. Kidding! She'll get used to, and eventually enjoy, being groomed gently and lovingly.
  • Claw clippers are good to have on hand, especially if your kitty is one who doesn't tend to scratch enough to keep her own claws managed. By pressing on the paw pads, each nail will pop forward. Then it's simply a matter of a quick clip on only the ends. Don't clip past the clear portion of the nail. This saves time and money, but of course a quick mani/pedi at the vet is not a bad option.
  • Shop Grooming Supplies

5. Pet Carrier

  • Kitty might be sent home in a cute cardboard box, but that is definitely a temporary vehicle. Find a cat carrier large enough that your cat can curl up inside and feel safe and with room for an additional towel or blanket. Trips to the vet are easier to manage once kitty is inside a suitable, safe carrier.
  • Check out carriers with top openings as well as front openings for optional ways to put your cat inside. Some have Sherpa-type liners, which most kitties love.
  • If your cat does freak out upon your trying to get her into the carrier, ask your vet about wipes with feline pheromones on them; these can often soothe and relax your cat.
  • Shop Cat Carriers

These top five must-haves will ensure that you're ready for your new cat. See all of these and much more at hayneedle.com, where we love our pets as much as you love yours.