Cat laying on its back on a couch

12 Things You Must Do Before Bringing a Home a New Cat

Finally going to adopt that cat you’ve always wanted? Or maybe you’ve been staying home during these difficult times and have been thinking about fostering.

Whatever the reason, this guide will tell you everything you need to do before bringing your new cat into your home.

Baby Proof

Safely store objects that might pose a threat to your pet like pins, pieces of string, cleaning products like laundry detergent, certain plants (which I’ll elaborate on), and of course, electrical cords.

Replace frayed cords and don’t leave cords hanging where your kitty can pull them down. Consider investing in spiral cable wrap to make it impossible for your cat to chew through your electrical cords.

Get rid of toxic plants

Curious cats might nibble on your houseplants so make sure your plants aren’t toxic to them.

A few plants that are toxic to cats are aloe vera, peace lilies, jade plants, dumb canes, snake plants, holly, sago palm, monstera deliciosa, poinsettia, pothos, mistletoe, tulips, and english ivy. The list could go on and on so always make sure to research extensively before bringing any type of plant inside the house.

Learn to recognize the symptoms of  a cat who’s eaten a poisonous plant.

Some safe plants I’d recommend getting are areca palm, bamboo palm, and lavender. These are stylish and can bring a new vibe to any room! They are also low maintenance which is a plus if you aren’t good with plants like me.

Get a cat bed. Or box?

In reality, your cat is going to sleep wherever they want. However, if you don’t want them going on your furniture, it’s wise to have a bed for them before bringing them home, whether that’s a bed you bought online or one you made yourself.

Cat laying in a cat bed inside a basket
Amadeo at his night summer bed” by Pedro Ribeiro Simões is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You can make a bed from a cardboard box by cutting off the flaps and cutting out a piece of cardboard from one side so your kitty can enter and exit easily. Then just line it with a folded blanket to make it nice and cozy.

When you first bring your feline friend home, a bed made from a box is good to have because in a new environment, your cat will want to have a place to hide. Normal cat beds don’t have high walls like a box would, so they wouldn’t make a new cat feel protected.

If your pet seems to like having its own bed you may want to consider upgrading it to an actual cat bed that you can wash since the box won’t suffice forever. You should buy a bed that’s machine washable.

As I said before, if you don’t want your cat finding comfort in your furniture, place a bed for them in every room you have furniture. That way they will have designated spots they can lay.

Get your cat a collar and/or microchip

Most owners will buy a collar for their cat or get them a microchip, which is placed just under the skin and holds the owner’s information should their cat ever go missing.

If you choose to go down the collar route, I suggest buying them at the pet store so you can look at the collar’s edges. Make sure the edges are round and not sharp or else it could cut into your pet’s skin and cause discomfort.

You should also choose a breakaway collar that will come off automatically if it’s snagged on something like a branch.

Consider choosing a color that contrasts your pet’s fur color so the collar is easily visible. As for the tag, make sure to include your cat’s name, your phone number, and your city on the tag.

You can also choose to get a microchip and a collar so that if your cat gets out, it’s easily seen that your cat has an owner. And if the break away collar comes off because it was snagged on something, your cat will still have some form of I.D. on her.

Buy a litter box

We all know that cats use litter boxes. However, it can be difficult to understand how many to get, which kind to get, where to put them.

The number of litter boxes you need depends on how many cats you have.

The Spruce Pets describes the rule of thumb for litter boxes as one box for each cat you have plus one more. The idea behind this is that if one litter box is located in the bathroom and someone in your house is in there, then your cat still has a litter box she can use without having to wait.

It’s a good idea to have one litter box on each floor of your house.

I recommend getting a litter box with higher sides because your new pet may be a high pee-er and the higher sides will keep everything in, even the litter if your cat likes to hop out of the litter box resulting in litter flying everywhere.

The litter you choose is also important. Go for a softer litter because litter with large pieces can have sharp edges that can hurt a cat’s paws which in turn can cause them to stop using their litter box and use your furniture instead!

Gray couch

Lastly, location is key when setting up a litter box. If you have a big family and the restroom is being used frequently, this may not be the best place to set up a litter box. But if you are living by yourself or there are few people in your home, the restroom may be an ideal location for a litter box.

On the other hand, you may have limited space and have to put the litter box in a closet. If you use this closet for clothes, the litter odor may cling to them which isn’t ideal. But if you’re storing something else, this is a good option.

But as with any room you place the litter box, keep the door open so that your kitty can access it.

Never place a litter box in the kitchen because of obvious hygiene reasons.

And yes, if you have more than one cat, you can place two litter boxes next to each other.

Finding two reasonable locations for your new cat’s litter boxes is no easy task. Just remember to find places that aren’t too crowded or loud, and to keep the door to these places open so your cat can easily get in and out.

And don’t stray from a location just because the litter box will be visible to guests. There are loads of disguisable litter boxes out there that will make you forget the litter box is there at all!

Buy food and water bowls

You’ll of course need to purchase a food and a water bowl before bringing your new friend home.

You may be wondering: is there a difference between a food bowl and a water bowl? And the answer is yes and no. You can totally purchase two of the same bowl to use as food and water bowls.

Cat food and water bowls
a pet’s food and water bowl” by franchise opportunities is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

However, another option is replacing a normal water bowl with a cat fountain which may make your kitty more interested in drinking the water you set out for her.

cat drinking from a cat fountain

Many cat owners go this route because cats naturally prefer running water because in the wild, it is seen as cleaner than still water.

As for food bowls and plain water bowls, shallow, wide bowls are ideal because deep bowls can bother a cat’s whiskers and cause whisker fatigue.

Ceramic, stainless steel, and glass bowls are the easiest to clean so keep this in mind when choosing the perfect bowls for your pet.

You may want to opt for bowls with rubber pieces on the bottom to keep them from sliding on the floor. Alternatively, it may be a good idea to put mats under the bowls to catch spills as well as prevent them from sliding around.

Also, it’s said that cats prefer to have both of their bowls some distance from each other.

And of course, wash the bowls before letting your four-legged friend use them for the first time.

What water will you give your cat?

Regular tap has too many contaminants which aren’t good for pets.

Some people prefer giving their pets bottled water.

I like giving mine filtered water because it’s a healthy option while also being convenient in the sense that I don’t have to keep going out and buying more water. It also saves plastic which is a plus for me.

Instead of buying a normal filter, you could instead opt for a cat fountain which is a water bowl and filter in one. Simply fill it up with tap water and it will filter it for you, no hassle!

Buy cat food

The easiest way to find out what food to feed your new cat is to simply ask her previous owners what they gave her. Or ask your vet for some good recommendations.

But you may have to choose on your own, and that’s okay. Yet it may seem impossible when there are so many things to consider: brands, flavors, your pet’s age, and any medical issues she may have.

But the hardest decision for pet owners is choosing between wet and dry food. There are pros and cons to both of these options.

Wet food may be more suitable for animals with health conditions due to the water consistency that makes it easy to digest. It’s also good for older cats who have trouble eating dry food. However, it is more expensive than dry food which can be easily stored once opened.

However, if you plan on feeding your pet wet food, free feeding is not an option because wet food can’t be left out for more than thirty minutes. Free feeding is when you leave out a bowl of dry food for your pet to eat throughout the day, refilling it until they have eaten the amount their diet calls for.

In a meal feeding diet, both wet food and dry food are good options. Meal feeding is when you feed your pet at set times every day.

Or you can give your cat the best of both worlds by giving her wet food for some meals and letting her eat dry food throughout the day, in correct quantities, of course.

But in the end, it all comes down to preference. You can try out different brands and flavors to give your new cat and see what she likes best.

Get treats!

When buying your cat treats for the first time, buy an assortment of different flavors and brands so you can see what she likes.

If your pet has any health problems, consider purchasing treats that target those issues.

Catnip is popular among cat owners.

If you’re ever unsure what treats may be best for your pet, ask their vet.

Get a cat tree and toys

Cat trees with a built in scratching post are best to save space and money. As for toys, there are so many toys to choose from. Wands, laser pointers, and rattling toys will all keep your kitty active and give you a chance to bond with her.

Cat playing with a stuffed fish
Pablo and the fish” by Tambako The Jaguar is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Buy a cat brush

There is a HUGE variety of cat brushes, so you should have no problem finding one that works for your pet.

You will definitely need to brush your cat regularly, even if you have a short-haired breed.

Long-haired cats should be brushed once a day whereas short-haired ones should be brushed a couple times a week.

Get a carrier

Cat in a carrier
greeting the world” by marneejill is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

You’ll need a carrier when you bring your kitty home for the first time. Hard plastic ones will keep a cat safer in a bumpy car.

Cats are amazing animals and you can easily prepare to bring one into your home by following this simple guide.

If you’re ever unsure about buying something for your cat, ask your vet. They’re there to help and your pet’s safety is always a priority.

If you’re looking to adopt a dog as well, read my guide on what to do before bringing a new dog home!

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