New Kitten Checklist: 13 Essential Supplies You Need When Bringing a Kitten Home
Kittens are adorable balls of mischief and fun. And if you've recently adopted one—you're in for many years of feline shenanigans and companionship. To start your relationship on the right paw, you're going to want to gather all the supplies your kitten needs for a warm welcome home.
Shopping for your new kitten can feel overwhelming. But with this handy new kitten checklist, preparing your home for your bundle of joy will be a breeze.
How to Kitten-Proof Your Home
Julie Liu, DVM, Elite Fear Free Certified Professional and Cat-Friendly Veterinarian in Austin, Texas, is all too familiar with kitten antics. That's why she says kitten-proofing is a must before filling your home with new kitten essentials. Before welcoming your kitten into your home, make sure the following tasks are complete:
- Secure the cords of blinds (and any other loose strings around the house)
- Remove breakable items from shelves
- Put away chewable cords
- Pick up any small items your kitten might try to eat
- Make sure your houseplants are cat-friendly. Cats of all ages are known for "gnawing on plants, some of which are toxic," Liu adds. Place any toxic houseplants far from your kitten's reach or give them to a friend.
What Items Do I Need for My New Kitten?
Between bouts of play and exploration, your kitten will work up an appetite, want a cozy place to nap, and will need to go potty. And she'll look to you for essential care. Here's everything to buy your new kitten to keep her feeling her best through kittenhood and beyond.
1. Cat Carrier
Bringing your new family member home requires a carrier that will keep your kitten safe during travel. If you have more than one kitten, they should each have their own appropriately sized carrier.
2. Kitten Food
Your kitten has a lot of growing to do, and they'll need nutrient-packed kitten food that can support their rapid growth spurt. "Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats, so they should be fed kitten food," Liu says. Specifically, she adds, one labeled for growth.
When choosing kitten food, reach for kitten wet food in addition to or in place of kitten kibble. "Canned food is higher in water intake, keeping them hydrated and feel full," Liu explains.
3. Food and Water Bowls
Food and water bowls come in all shapes, sizes, and even heights. When deciding between an elevated bowl, slow feeder, or automatic feeder, consider your lifestyle, the size of your kitten, and their eating habits. If your kitten loves trickling water, consider spoiling her with a cat water fountain.
Liu says crunchy, pea-sized treats will make any kitten purr. Plus, she adds, grab some high-value treats like the widely loved Churu. "Smearing some Churu onto a Lickimat to distract your kitten during brushing or nail trim training works like a charm for most kittens," she says.
5. Nail Trimmer
Trimming your cat's nails won't just protect your furniture—routine nail trims protect your cat from painful ingrown nails and nasty infections. Getting into the habitat of nail trims when your cat is just a kitten will make the task easier throughout life, and choosing the right cat nail clippers will help ease the job.
6. Brush or Comb
Brushing your kitten will remove loose hair, keep away mats and tangles, and promote hairball-free days—plus grooming sessions are the perfect opportunity to bond with your new feline friend.
7. Toothbrush and Kitty Toothpaste
You read that right! Liu says a small toothbrush and kitty toothpaste should be on your list of items to get for a new kitten. Your kitten will shed her baby teeth by the time she's four months old, replacing them with a mouthful of adult pearly whites. To keep her teeth healthy and prevent bad breath, a sore mouth, and periodontal disease, you'll want to introduce your kitten to teeth brushing as early as possible.
There are a wide variety of kitten toys on the market, and your playful companion will love a rotating selection of soft toys to carry around, toy mice to swat, and catnip toys to bunny kick. Interactive wands will drive your frisky feline crazy, plus they promote human-kitten bonding. "Two of my favorites are Da Bird wand toy and the Cat Dancer," Liu says. "Just make sure that your kitten isn't left alone with anything they could potentially swallow."
9. Scratching Post
"Beds, trees, and scratching posts all create an enriched environment for kittens," Liu says. "If you don't provide different outlets for scratching or climbing, your kitten will be scratching where you don't want them to scratch." Luckily, there are countless scratching post options to match your aesthetic, or get creative and make your own.
10. Cat Bed
Of course, one of your kitten's favorite places to nap will be your lap—or chest, or head, or wherever she pleases, really. But your kitten will also appreciate a bed she can call her own. A cat's body temperature is a few degrees higher than ours, meaning they prefer cozy temps. So, think cozy fleece beds, caves, and cubbies.
11. Cat Tree
Liu recommends at least one cat tree or tower that is ideally six feet tall. Look for a sturdy tree with a combination of perches, cubbies, and carpet or rope. If you don't have the space for a large cat tree, don't fret! There are plenty of cat tree options for small spaces and apartment dwellers. Plus, adding cat-friendly shelving and window perches will make any space complete.
12. Litter and Litter Box
Good news: potty training a kitten is typically easier than potty training a puppy. Liu says to start with at least two kitten-sized litter boxes (one litter box per cat plus one) and increase the boxes in size as your furball grows. Kittens don't need a special kitten litter, but Liu prefers unscented clumping litter.
13. ID Tag and Collar
If your kitten sneaks out an open door or window, an ID and collar will be the first clue that she has a home and who to call. No matter your kitten's personal style, the collar should be a breakaway collar that unclips if snagged. But, Liu adds, microchips are the most "effective way of being reunited with your kitten if they accidentally escape."
RELATED: How to Introduce a Dog to a Cat
New Kitten Vet Checklist
Soon after arriving home, you'll want to schedule your kitten's first of many routine vet visits. To prepare for their lifelong vet visits and any unexpected medical costs, consider adding pet insurance to your new kitten care checklist.
Your first few vet visits will depend on your kitten's age and if they came home fixed and microchipped. Liu says you can expect their testing and vaccine schedule to look something like this:
- 8–11 weeks: Feline leukemia (FeLV) and Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) test #1, FVRCP vaccine #1, FeLV vaccine #1, deworming, fecal testing, start heartworm and flea preventative
- 12–15 weeks: FVRCP vaccine #2, FeLV vaccine #2, possibly rabies depending on the clinic, fecal testing
- 16–19 weeks: FeLV and FIV test #2, FVRCP vaccine #3, rabies if not given at 12 weeks, fecal testing
If you adopted your kitten from a shelter, they likely came home spayed or neutered and microchipped. If your kitten isn't fixed, veterinarians recommend the procedure as early as five months of age before kittens reach sexual maturity. Typically, your vet will be happy to implant a microchip during the procedure.