When you bring a new cat or kitten home for the first time it's a good idea to ensure you have all the necessary equipment. After all, your pet won’t be too happy if he can’t live in the style he’d prefer to become accustomed to!
Before collecting your new kitten, invest in a sturdy cat carrier (cat basket). This should be large enough to carry a full-grown cat, yet light for ease of lifting and carrying. Organisations such as Cats Protection (formerly the Cats Protection League) recommend plastic-coated wire baskets as they allow the kitten to see out and prevent unnecessary anxiety. Ideally, the basket should have a top opening as this makes it easier to get your pet in and out. Expect to pay £25-£30 for one of these cat baskets.
There are also various plastic carriers available that open at one end and cost around £15. These are airy, light and allow the occupant to see outside, but you may have problems removing a reluctant cat. Avoid cardboard carriers as they are unsanitary and tend to be claustrophobic, while wicker baskets are difficult to clean.
Believe it or not, even the most active cats and kittens do need to sleep from time to time! There are all manner of weird and wonderful beds available, ranging from a basic beanbag costing around £10 to fancy armchair beds that can cost £50 or so.
An ideal bed is raised slightly off the floor to avoid draughts, with walls to prevent side draughts and give your cat a feeling of security. Cleanliness is an important consideration, so if your kitten is going to sleep on a beanbag make sure it has a removable cover.
Even if you intend your pet to be an outdoor cat, you will still need a litter tray for the time he is acclimatising to his new home and cannot be allowed out – and also for the occasions he may be indoors. A basic plastic litter tray costs around £3-£5, while odour-controlling litter trays with lids retail at about £15.
There are even self-cleaning litter contraptions on the market that operate on a tilting mechanism, and these cost £20 or so. In addition, you'll need a cat litter scoop to remove soiled clumps from the litter tray. Disposable plastic tray liners are a great help when emptying and changing litter.
There are many different types of litter on the market and it's up to you and your cat to decide what suits him best. You have your nose and wallet to consider, while kitty has his comfort and sensibilities to think about. Some cats, for example, feel uncomfortable standing on wood-based litter, while others find scented and deodorised litter an irritant.
Traditional clay-based lightweight cat litter is effective when it comes to absorption and deodorization and costs about £3 per nine litres. Wood-based litter is a slightly more expensive alternative at around £3 per five litres, although it does have the added benefit of a fresh pine smell.
The biodegradable pellets are environmentally friendly, leaving none of the dusty residue that comes with clay-based litter. Paper-based litter has a similar feel and effect. Fuller’s earth is a heavier type of litter but offers a high degree of absorbency and odour control, making it a popular choice with cat owners. It can even be recycled and used as compost in the garden. Packets of fuller’s earth-based litter cost about £2.99 per 6kg.
Research has shown that cats prefer shallow bowls, so you should buy a specially designed cat bowl rather than using a recycled dog bowl or cereal dish. Generally it's best to get a sturdy dish with non-slip feet that proves difficult to knock over. Ceramic or stainless steel dishes are preferable, but strong plastic ones will suffice. Double bowls are handy as you can serve water and food to your feline at the same time. Prices range from £1.50 for a small stainless steel bowl to £10 for larger decorated bowls.
Twootz provides a great range of complete dry cat food
specially formulated to provide all the nutrients necessary to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet that helps promote good health and vitality. Manufactured in the UK from quality ingredients this range has something for every cat.
Cats and kittens find all sorts of objects great fun to play with. Although we enjoy giving them toys, such as the ever-popular catnip mouse, many felines gain plenty of pleasure from playing with a piece of string dangled tantalisingly above them. A paper bag also provides endless hours of fun as your cat leaps in and out of it, thrilled by its loud rustling noises.
Cardboard boxes are another favourite that cost nothing to buy. If you feel the need to create a playground paradise for your pet then you can spend well in excess of £100 on elaborate fur-covered climbing-frames and ingeniously designed tree-houses. At the end of the day, though, your pet will be more thrilled with your time and attention than with any expensive present!
A scratching-post is not an essential item as many cats will sharpen their claws outside. However, if you discover that your pet prefers to file his nails on your furniture, a scratching-post is a sound investment at around £10! Basic ones are covered with claw-friendly sisal and are attached to a firm base.
A wide selection of brushes and combs are available for under £5. If you have a short-haired kitten you will need a soft-bristled brush and a fine-toothed metal comb. For a long-haired cat you will need a stiff-bristled brush and a wide-toothed comb, as well as a fine-toothed comb.