Summary List Placement
- Make your cat’s transition to their new home as seamless as possible by stocking up on the essentials before their arrival.
- Cats need supplies like a litter box, food, toys, and scratchers to make them feel safe, encourage healthy habits, and provide them with stimulation.
- We consulted with two cat rescue organizations and veterinarian Dr. Andrea Moore of Pinnacle Animal Hospital in California to determine the most important supplies to have when bringing a new cat home.
The day you bring home your new cat is full of joy. But while you may be ready for snuggles and play from the moment your kitty arrives, most felines aren’t as excited about moving day. Just when they were getting used to the shelter or foster home — bam — here comes another transition. And cats, they aren’t the best at dealing with change.
Preparing for the arrival of your new cat ahead of time will help smooth their transition to your home. While it’s a no-brainer that cats require a litter box and food, new cat owners may not realize that items like scratching posts, cat trees, calming pheromones, and toys can reduce stress and provide your pet with an enriching environment.
With the help of four experts, we’ve come up with a list of essentials to have when you bring a new cat home. For a veterinary perspective, we consulted Dr. Andrea Moore, owner and medical director at Pinnacle Animal Hospital in San Jose, California. Staff at two cat rescue organizations also lent their expertise on how to transition a cat to a new home: Danielle Carr, shelter manager at Town Cats in Morgan Hill, California, and Libby Farel-Friedman and Lindsay Franušić, supervisor and assistant manager of adoption programs, respectively, at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley (HSSV) in Milpitas, California.
Here are 19 pet supplies to have on hand when you bring your new cat home:
A cozy carrier for your cat’s freedom ride and beyond
A cat carrier is mandatory for bringing your cat home from the shelter, said Franušić. We love Mr. Peanut’s refined, comfortable tote, which can unzip to expand to almost three times the size of a regular carrier, making it more comfortable for long travel days.
A calming pheromone diffuser to decrease stress
To help decrease stress and unwanted behaviors like urine spraying that go with it, both Moore and Carr recommend using a calming pheromone like Feliway during your cat’s first weeks at home. Feliway mimics the F3 facial pheromones cats deposit when rubbing their cheeks against surfaces in order to mark them as safe.
Earthquake putty to keep knickknacks, vases, and picture frames from becoming playthings
Adhering your knickknacks to shelves and tables using earthquake putty ensures that your favorite picture frame or vase won’t end up in pieces on the floor. “When you actually get a cat into your home, you find that they love to explore and get on top of things,” said Franušić, adding that putty was a lifesaver for her.
A safe place for your cat to do their business
When it comes to a litter box, all of our experts agree that simple is best. You want a box your cat can use “without having to do any tricks,” said Moore. And even though self-cleaning litter boxes are convenient, Moore advises against them because the noises they make can frighten cats. At the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, Farel-Friedman said they recommend using a simple uncovered litter box. If you prefer your box to be covered to reduce smells or prevent your dog from getting inside, buy one like Nature’s Miracle Oval Hooded Litter Box, which has a removable lid that can be added later on.
An unscented natural litter to make using the litter box appealing
Moore avoids dusty litters, which can cause respiratory issues, as well as perfumed litters with a strong scent. All three of our shelter experts like litters made of natural materials like corn or grass, and Carr’s favorite litters are made from pine wood. “I think they’re really efficient at neutralizing odors and are really easy to scoop,” she said. For more ideas, check out our guide to the best natural cat litter.
A flat, wide food dish to prevent whisker fatigue
For cats with sensitive whiskers, brushing up against the side of a food or water bowl can cause pain and make eating stressful. To prevent “whisker fatigue,” Dr. Moore suggested using a flatter dish without steep sides.
Nutritious dry and wet food that your cat will love to eat
While many cats prefer dry foods, they are high in carbohydrates and calories. Feeding a diet that includes wet food can help to maintain weight and overall health, according to Moore. “Wet food is great for cats because it provides more moisture,” she said. “It’s especially important for males because you want them producing urine so they don’t have urinary issues.”
Franušić and Farel-Friedman recommended Hill’s Science Diet, which comes in several varieties for cats with different needs. There are plenty of other high-quality options, including Nom Nom, a human-grade monthly cat food delivery service.
Irresistible treats for training and high-stress situations
“We use Churu for clicker training and it works wonders,” said Carr. Clicker training, a form of positive-reinforcement training that marks correct behaviors with a distinct clicking sound, is an excellent way to teach tricks and address behavior challenges in cats. Churu is great for stressful situations, too. “We have cats who are super stressed and we give them Churu, and it works so well to distract them from what’s going on,” said Carr. For more ideas, see our guide to the best cat treats.
Tasty dental treats to help promote a happy, healthy mouth
Keeping your cat’s mouth clean is essential to its overall health. “Ideally, you should try to teach your cat to have its teeth brushed,” said Moore. But if that proves too challenging, dental treats are the next best thing. She also recommended using a water additive for stress-free dental care. For more options, check out our guide to the best dental products for cats.
A reflective breakaway collar to hold your cat’s ID tags
If your cat goes outdoors, they need a breakaway collar that will come undone if they get caught on a tree branch or fence, said Moore. We like this durable reflective collar by Rogz, which is the top pick in our guide to the best cat collars.
Stainless steel ID tags to make sure your cat gets home safely
Even if your cat is microchipped, ID tags engraved with their name and phone number can help them make it home safe and sound. If your cat is indoor-only, Moore said they don’t need to wear a collar or ID tags. Instead, microchip your cat so that they can be easily identified if they escape.
A comfy harness and leash set for taking your cat on a walk
For indoor cats, the outdoors is a fantasy world of sights, sounds, and smells that many find delightful. According to Moore, leash training “is a safe way to have [a] cat outside and a good activity for the cat and owner to do together.” But because being on a leash is not a natural behavior for cats, guardians need to take the time to acclimate their cat to the leash.
A brush for removing excess hair and preventing hairballs
Cats are fastidious, and in the process of grooming, they consume a lot of hair. For long-haired cats, especially, “brushing is really helpful to remove the loose hair that is ready to shed that may get matted if not removed,” said Moore. A good cat brush like the Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush can help remove the excess hair and may reduce the frequency of hairballs.
A scratching post for your cat to claw
“Cats scratch as a scent marker, to help with their nails, and to relieve stress,” said Moore. Plus, your cat will be less likely to scratch your furniture if they have other options. This cat scratcher from Max & Marlow includes a 26-inch scratching post plus two attached toys. For more ideas, check out our guide to the best scratching posts.
A cat wand for chasing, pouncing, and play
“The best toys are the ones where you can interact with your cat. Playing with them helps you to bond better,” said Farel-Friedman. Cat wands are a classic kitty favorite, and Carr recommended both Da Bird and Cat Catcher by GoCat. See our guide to the best cat toys for more options.
An interactive food puzzle toy to stimulate your cat’s hunting instincts
“I think food puzzle toys are great,” said Carr. “They’re really good for cats who are overweight and for cats who are overstimulated. It’s more natural, too, because [it mimics the way] cats have to work for their food in the wild.” Moore suggested feeding kibble out of interactive food puzzle toys as well as — or instead of — treats.
Regular flea treatment to keep the itches away
Flea control is important regardless of whether a cat is indoor-only or goes outside. Most flea treatments are topical, but Seresto also makes a flea collar that many cat owners and veterinarians like. Not all cats will be comfortable wearing a flea collar, but for those that tolerate it, Moore said it’s a good option.
A cardboard floor scratcher with tracking balls to promote independent play
All of our experts agreed that there is no such thing as too many scratchers. Carr likes the Bergan Turboscratcher which has a ball in the frame. “Cats get their scratch on while playing with the balls inside,” she said. “They can play and entertain themselves so even if you’re not home they have stimulation.”
A cat tree tower for climbing, scratching, and play
“We definitely recommend cat trees,” said Farel-Friedman. “They not only provide cats with the ability of choice, but they also provide them with exercise and stress relief.” Dr. Moore agreed: “You want to have vertical space, especially people who have a small living area.” The ideal tree has built-in scratching posts and plenty of spots to snuggle up. That’s why we like the classic cat tree from Armarkat, which is the budget pick in our guide to the best cat trees.