Before you bring your new cat or kitten home, there are a number of things to collect or buy, so your cat will feel like a family member rather than a visitor. Do this a few days in advance to save stress on the "big day". In the excitement of bringing your cat home, you don't want to suddenly discover at 8 p.m. that you forgot to buy cat food. Here are the minimum essentials your cat will need:
If you can talk to the care giver in the cat's last home, it's probably best to give your new pet whatever food she's accustomed to. If you acquire a cat from a breeder, more often than not, their contract will either strongly suggest or require you to feed a certain kind of food. For cats and kittens with unknown backgrounds, here are some guidelines:
- Kittens -
These babies need more fats and proteins than grown cats, so look for foods with "Complete and Balanced Nutrition" on the label as well as the AAFCO animal feeding tested statement "for all life stages". There are also foods specifically formulated for kittens. These can be identified by the words "highly digestible, nutrient-dense and uniquely designed to meet kittens' nutritional requirements. Kittens from eight weeks upward can handle dried food quite well, although canned food is really better for them.
- Adult Cats
Canned foods are better for cats, but your cat may be used to dry food only. Grown cats thrive on dry food, and any of the premium brands are acceptable. You should also supplement with canned food, because eventually you should try to move your cat over to canned only.
- Food and Water Bowls
Although your new cat can be fed on any ceramic (non-lead-glazed) or stainless steel bowls you have in your kitchen, you may feel better with providing her with her very own dishes. I do not recommend plastic dishes for cats, as some cats develop a chin rash from plastic; also, softer plastic scratches, which provides a harbor from bacteria (possibly a case of cause-and-effect here.)There are a number of non-tip stainless steel bowls available for pets. If you prefer decorated ceramic dishes, make sure the glaze is lead-free. To be safe, purchase only products made in the U.S.
Automatic food and water servers are especially nice if the humans will be gone for lengthy periods during the day. e.g., job or school. Most cats love the pure, fresh taste of running water, and automatic water dispensers ensure a constant supply of clean water.
All cats love to play, and your bonding time will begin by playing with Kitty and her toys. The "fishing pole, dangling lure" kind of toy is a big favorite for interactive play. Just make sure it is sturdy enough that small kittens won't tear off feathers, etc. from the dangling part. Catnip mice are a perennial favorite. Kitty houses and climbing posts can run the gamut from simple cardboard creations, to custom built "cat furniture" combinations running several hundred dollars.
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- Kittens -