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Getting a Cat? Stock Up Now

By: Alex Lieber

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You went to the shelter and fell in love with a kitten. Or maybe it was a stray cat that claimed you for her own. However you came across your new family member, it is time to stock up on kitty supplies.

If your kitten was a stray, you should first have your veterinarian check her out for feline leukemia, feline AIDS and other diseases, especially if you already have cats in the home. (If you adopt from a shelter, these tests may be done as a matter of course.)

Before bringing her home, scout your neighborhood for the best and most convenient pet supply store, and learn the store's hours. It's wise to get your shopping done before you bring your cat home. There are few differences in what you need for a kitten versus an adult cat, but most of the items are the same.

  • An approved cat carrier. You will need this to bring her home from the shelter and for trips to your veterinarian. Make sure the carrier is large enough to allow her to stretch.

  • Bowls for food and water. Choose metal. Besides being more sturdy, metal is easier to clean and does not break like glass or ceramic. Avoid plastic – it will fray when chewed and is not as sanitary as metal.

  • A bed and accessories. If your cat isn't going to cuddle up next to you at night, you'll want to buy a washable plastic bed padded with washable towels or blankets. For comfort, give your kitten a tee shirt or old bathrobe that has your scent on it. Even if she does sleep with you, she may use the bed for her frequent power naps.

  • Litter box. There are many varieties to choose from, but any box should have a lip to prevent litter from scattering on the floor. Your cat should be able to get in and out easily, as well as turn around.

  • Soft collar and ID tags. You may want to consider having your veterinarian implant a microchip with your information on it, even if she's an indoor cat. In a flash, a cat can dart out an open door. If you use ID tags, you may want to include a note that says, "If I'm outside, I'm lost."

  • Leash and harness. Many cats are loathe to accept walking on a leash. If you start them early enough on it, however, you may be able to persuade them otherwise. Make sure you supervise your cat at all times and prohibit exposure to unknown outside cats that may carry infectious diseases.

  • Scratching post. This is imperative for your furniture and sanity. No matter how many cats you have, keep one extra in your home. (In other words, if you have three cats, buy four posts.)

  • Safe toys. A mouse with catnip inside it and balls large enough to prevent her from swallowing are good toys. Paddleballs make excellent toys because the rubber string makes the ball act unpredictably when batted. Only let her play with it while supervised, however. In fact, beware of all stringed toys. Your cat can swallow a broken string, which will cause intestinal problems.

  • Check the labels and look for quality in toys, just as you would when buying for children. Be sure that parts won't break off. Buttons, plastic shards and small balls can lodge in her throat and block air passages.

  • Pet insurance. A kitten can be very expensive. The routine veterinary care to keep him healthy will add up, not to mention the expenses involved if he gets sick or injured. Pet insurance allows you to do what's best for your cat if he has an accident or falls ill. There are even options to help pay for routine care. Embrace Pet Insurance offers policies that cover up to 90% of your vet bills. They also have "Wellness Rewards", a program that helps you pay for vaccines, spaying/neutering, and more. The best time to get a pet insurance policy is now, before your kitten gets sick or injured.

  • Grooming tools. Find a groomer who meets your needs. He can advise you on which tools are best for grooming your particular breed of cat. You will need a cat brush and nail trimmers.

  • Flea comb. Start off right to make sure she's free of fleas. Combing is good for the skin as well.

  • Pet specific household cleaning products.

  • Kitten food. Ask your breeder or shelter what brand your kitten is used to eating. Changing her diet abruptly may cause stomach distress. If you want to change foods, phase them in by mixing them with her old brand for several weeks.

    Your kitten is like a child – she will roam and explore without worrying about her safety. Always kitten proof your home by putting dangerous items, like chemicals, safely out of reach. Don't forget that some plants are toxic as well, and that she will try to climb and jump from areas that an older cat may think better of.

    I hope this lists helps you shop and get ready for your new cat or kitten.



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