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What You’ll Need For Your Adoptive Cat

Adopting A Kitten · What you’ll need · Behavior Issues · Grooming · Related articles
Woman hugging her new cat  

What You’ll Need When Adopting A Cat

The day you adopt, rescue, or purchase a new cat you’ll need to prepare just as though you are bringing home a baby. Food is the first item on the list because it is the most important thing you can do for your cat’s heath.

Love and attention is also very necessary in the first few days. Remember that your pet may feel ill at ease in a new place and a little scared. Make sure to comfort and reassure your new cat as much as possible during this adjustment time.

Adopting a new pet is a 10-15+ year committment to a new family member. Read more about this special relationship.



Use a premium cat food. Your cat will be healthier, and you will save money in the long run. Most cats are healthiest with moist or canned food because this is closer to their natural diet and helps prevent bladder problems. Tips on what how, , and when to feed are in the Nutrition Section.


Filtered water is best. Change daily. Because cats evolved from desert creatures, many housecats do not drink as much water as they should. Promote water consumption by providing water in a container your cat likes. Some like water in a fountain; others,, dripping faucets. Please don’t let your cat drink from the toilet.


Stainless bowls and unbreakable glass bowls are better than plastic. Plastic bowls cause some cats to develop miliary dermatitis, which is a form of acne on their faces. These cats require face washing and medications to clear up their skin. Easier to avoid the problem.


The 3 medications you need to start are for fleas, heartworms, and anxiety. Struggling with fleas after they invade is a nuisance. Treating your cat after it develops a heartworm infection is difficult and expensive. Avoid these problems. You’ll also want to prevent anxiety because it can lead to litter box problems and inappropriate elimination. Your cat will be much happier if it begins its life with you on medications it needs to prevent physical and emotional problems.

Flea medications No prescription required. Use a topical flea medication, such as Advantage II, which is applied to your cat’s skin every month to kill and repel fleas. If ticks and fleas are both a problem, use Frontline Top Spot or Frontline Plus. If your cat needs extra flea protection for a few days, it can take an oral flea medication, Capstar.

Prescription required. Revolution (Rx) is a topical medication that prevents fleas from multiplying, prevents heartworm disease, and helps control intestinal worms.

Heartworm medications Prescription required. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and live in your cat’s heart and lungs. The number of cats with heartworm infections has doubled the last ten years.

Among the oral heartworm medications for cats are Heartgard Chewables (Rx) and Interceptor (Rx). There is a topical heartworm medication, Revolution (Rx), which prevents fleas from multiplying and also helps control intestinal worms.

Calming medications for anxiety No prescription required. Use a calming medication, such as the Comfort Zone Feliway to ease your new cat through the transition to a new home. Comfort Zone Feliway will also help cats already living in your home adjust peacefully to the new addition.


Detailed information on worms and deworming medications is available at Worms in Cats and Dogs. Most wormers do not require a prescription. Interceptor (Rx), used for heartworm infections, controls 3 types of intestinal worms: rounds, hooks, and whips. Revolution (Rx) controls rounds and hooks. Heartgard (Rx) controls hooks.


If your cat has very little hair, it will appreciate a warm bed. If your cat has a thick coat, it will appreciate a cool bed. Choose something entirely washable. Many behavior problems are avoided if cats sleep in a family member’s bedroom.


Collars are necessary for outdoor cats. If your cat is wearing a collar and is lost, the rabies vaccination tag can be used to help find its family. If your cat is going to accompany you for walks and camping trips, also choose a harness and leash.

Litter box:

Most cats prefer litter boxes that are at least 1.5 times the length of their body. (The average cat is 18 inches long.) Because having an unclean litter boxes is the most common reason cats eliminate outside the box, have more than one box. Clean the boxes once or twice a day. Cats prefer clean boxes that don’t smell of disinfectant, so it’s best to clean with scalding hot water, and if using a disinfectant, sun dry the box outside for 24 hours. Use one more litter box than you have cats: 2 cats, 3 boxes. Cats want their boxes in convenient, quiet spots. Cats that need extra privacy may prefer litter boxes in a closet. Some cats will use a covered litter box, other’s won’t.


Most cats prefer fine-grained, unscented litter that clumps. Cats can like a particular type of litter one week, and dislike it the next. Don’t put too much litter in, but have enough that your pet can dig and cover its feces. Many cats dislike liners because their claws catch in the liner when they’re covering their feces.

If your new cat is unfamiliar with litter and prefers using hard surfaces, such as the bathtub, begin by using a plastic food tray or a litter box without litter, and gradually add litter.

Perfumed litter can cause asthma and respiratory allergies, and many cats hate it. Instead, clean the box more often.

Litter scoop:

Scoops make it easy to remove wastes.


Most cats often feel more secure in hard-sided than in soft-sided carriers. Hard-sided carriers are easier to clean if your cat has an accident. Ideally, the top will lift off so that your cat can rest peacefully in the bottom and you can remove the top and have full access. This is an ideal arrangement for nervous cats visiting the veterinarian.


Brushes and mitts make grooming easy. Devote at least 5 minutes a day to removing tangles and old hair. Because of your efforts, your cat will swallow less hair and have fewer problems with hairballs. Dampening your hands or the brush while grooming helps remove more hair.


Your new cat may like catnip; about 30% of the feline population does. Catnip is a plant in the mint family that can be grown in the yard or purchased as a dried herb. Toys filled with catnip are available.

Scratching Post:

Cats prefer to scratch vertically so that they can stand tall and get a full stretch. Purchase a scratching post or use a secured piece of rough bark for your cat to file her nails on. Secure the post so it doesn’t topple.


A busy cat is a happy cat, so provide toys to keep your new pet occupied. The simplest is a crunched up brown paper bag, but you may also find some irresistible manufactured toys.

Avoid giving balls of yarn or string except if you are watching that your cat doesn’t swallow any. Long linear objects like yarn and tinsel catch in the intestines and often require surgical removal.


Protect houseplants with a repellant such as Bitter Apple. Growing cat grass or offering green vegetables, such as petite peas and broccoli, gives your cat an alternative source of chlorophyll-rich material. Cover the soil in potted plants with tinfoil or gravel to prevent your cat from thinking it is ok to use the potted plant as a litter box.

The articles here were answered by a variety of pharmacists and veterinarians
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  • Living with a cat is one of life's great adventures and you'll want to prepare so you can enjoy it fully.

  • Recommended products for your new cat
  • Stainless bowls
  • Advantage II
  • Frontline Top Spot
  • Frontline Plus
  • Capstar
  • Heartgard Chewables
  • Interceptor
  • Revolution
  • Comfort Zone Feliway
  • Bitter Apple
    This information is for educational purposes only and is intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise and professional judgment of your veterinarian. The information is NOT to be used for diagnosis or treatment of your pet. You should always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the treatment of your pet.

    The information about medications is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, allergic reactions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for your pet. It is not a substitute for a veterinary exam, and it does not replace the need for services provided by your veterinarian.

    Note: Any trademarks are the property of their respective companies