Cat Supplies

What kinds of pet supplies do you need to keep your cats healthy and happy? Many people assume that cats are independent and don”t need “extras,” an opinion that leads to unhappy and unhealthy pets. Cats are fairly low maintenance pets, but in order to keep them healthy and happy (and your house clean and fresh-smelling), a number of pet supplies are essential.

Fortunately, you can find the supplies you need almost anywhere. Online pet stores offer so many products that you can easily be overwhelmed by the choices. What type of litter do you want to use? What is the right food for a new kitten? Here”s a list of the products you”ll need to keep kitty purring.

Necessary Cat Supplies

Cat Food: Cat food is available in canned, dry and semi-moist forms. You can buy it in tiny, single serving “gourmet” cans or twenty pound bags. Many cats develop preferences to specific food brands or flavors. Don”t feed a new kitten adult cat food as kittens require specially formulated, high-energy food. Kitten food is readily available through pet stores and your local veterinary clinic.

Feeding Bowls: Feeding bowls are available in ceramic, metal or plastic. Water bowls with reservoirs are very popularthey contain enough water for several days. Whenever possible, though, change the water every day. Avoid placing water reservoir bowls in direct sunlight or you may find the inside of the reservoir covered in algae. High-tech automatic feeding bowls are also available, and handy if you occasionally have to leave your cat or kitten at home for the weekend.

Litter Box: A litter box can be as simple as an open pan that”s large enough for your cat to move around in. Hooded boxes prevent contents from spilling onto the floor, and provide your cat with privacy to do her business. Some hooded pans include charcoal filters in the roof to control odors. If you do choose a hooded box and notice that your kitty is urinating or defecating outside the box, remove the hood. In some cases, even those with odor control filters can offend your kitty”s sensitive nose. Plastic liners keep the litter box clean and make it easier to dispose of used litter.

Some high-tech boxes are designed to automatically clean litter. Motorized sifters remove waste after each use, and some boxes include a mechanical arm that scoops out waste.

How Many Litter Boxes?

If you live in a multi-cat household, one litter box just isn”t going to be enough. The standard rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra box.

Cat Litter: Who”d have thought you”d be agonizing over litter choices? You”ll find scented varieties, clumping types (urine forms a solid clump with the litter and can then be removed), odor-absorbing charcoal, and dust-free paper-pellet products. You”ll even find biodegradable types that can be flushed down the toilet. No matter what type you choose, your kitty needs at least two inches worth in the box, so she can completely bury her wastes.

Odor Control: If your kitten forgets where the litter box is, or if your new sofa was sprayed, you”ll need odor or stain removers. You”ll find a wide selection of sprays that neutralize odors, and carpet treatments designed to remove pet stains. The types that are enzyme-based seem to work best.

Flea Control: Fleas aren”t usually a problem if your cat stays indoors, but they”re always a possibility. Keeping some flea control on hand is a good idea; not only are fleas an irritant, they can also cause health problems. You can buy shampoos, sprays and special collars designed to kill fleas. Or you can try an ultrasonic flea control product that plugs into your wall and repels any fleas or small insects in the area.

Collars: The best type of collar to buy is a breakaway or elasticized collar. These are designed to prevent your cat from strangling herself. If her collar gets caught on something, it can break free or slip off easily. And don”t forget a pet identification tag to go with that collar.

Grooming Supplies: Even shorthaired cats need a regular brushing to keep their fur healthy, so a grooming brush is a necessity. You”ll also need nail-clippers to trim claws when they get too long. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to safely clip your cat”s claws. While you don”t usually need to bathe a cat, shampoos are available for the day your curious kitten discovers the flour bin or decides to nap in his litter box. Cat shampoo is specifically formulated for felines. Human or dog shampoo can be irritating to a cat”s skin.

Cat Supplies: The Niceties

As a cat owner, you know that one of the most fun things about having a cat is the cat toys. Cats are playful and intelligent creatures and finding toys and treats that bring out those characteristics is a great joy for cat enthusiasts.

Catnip and Treats: Not all cats love catnip, but enough do that it”s worth trying as a treat. Catnip is available as loose herbs or in chewable form. You can even grow it in a small pot or buy a pot of it at your local florist or garden store. Other chewy or crunchy treats come in many different flavors. Remember not to overuse them as most of your cat”s nutrition should come from her food.

Toys and Comfort Items: A proper toy can be as cheap as a small spongy ball or as expensive as a four-level cat tree. Unlike dogs, cats tend to be turned off by squeaky toys, but often appreciate toys with bells attached or inside. However, make certain that the bell cannot be accidentally swallowed. Of course, some of the best cat toys are free. Paper grocery bags (not plastic) offer endless amusement, as do bottle caps, the safety ring around plastic milk jug lids, and other disposable hard plastic items.

All toys should be periodically examined for wear and tear: Those that are falling apart should be removed.