The arrival of a new kitten is such an exciting time. With their homecoming date approaching, it’s natural to start to think about getting prepared, gathering essential equipment and accessories ready for their arrival. But we also know from experience that it’s easy to buy plenty of things for your kitten that they’ll never use!
So to help you with your preparations, our team have pooled their collective decades of kitten-care experience to create the ultimate list of what to buy for a new kitten.
In the list below you’ll find our checklist of 10 new kitten starter kit essentials that will help you give your new kitten the perfect introduction to your home:
New Kitten Checklist: The 10 Essentials
1. SHALLOW LITTER TRAY & LITTER
Little kitties need an easily accessible, simple tray with shallow sides to hop in and out of when nature calls. When you first bring your kitten home, try to use the same type and brand of litter that they have been using previously so that it’s nice and familiar for them. Once they’re settled, you can transition them to a new type of litter if you’d like to, by mixing it into the old litter gradually over a period of a few weeks.
Play is an essential part of a kitten’s daily routine. Kitten play tends to mimic hunting sequences, so it’s important to provide your kitten with toys that enable them to stalk, pounce and swipe – just like they would with real prey!
For interactive play with you, consider a wand-style or fishing rod toy which your kitten can leap and pounce after. It’s also nice to provide your kitten with some toys they can play with when they’re on their own, such as enclosed ball-runs, puzzle feeders or cat-safe bouncy balls. It’s also a really good idea to rotate your kitten’s toys, putting some out for them to play with, and keeping some on standby, to keep things fresh and avoid them getting bored!
3. SOMEWHERE TO SCRATCH
Scratching is a natural behaviour for all cats, which they perform to keep their nails in good condition, to stretch and to mark their territory. It’s really important to make sure a kitten has an outlet for their scratching needs, as it will keep them happy and make sure your furniture doesn’t become the focus of their scratching attentions!
There are lots of different types of scratching post / mat to choose from. Look for one that’s sturdy and won’t move or wobble when your kitten is mid-scratch. It’s also advisable to pick one with a vertical lengthwise grain to encourage a long scratching stroke, and try to select one that’s taller than your kitten’s height when they stand on their hind legs so that they can enjoy a good full-body stretch whilst scratching.
4. SOMEWHERE TO HIDE / EXPLORE
Give your kitten structures around the house that they can use to hide and explore. These can be repurposed items such as cardboard boxes (a cat favourite!), or you can buy dedicated kitten tunnels.
5. SOMEWHERE TO CLIMB
Cats love to explore 3D space in their environment, and kittens are no exception! Have a look around your home and think of ways that you can provide access to high places. It could be as simple as pushing an armchair near a mantelpiece, so that kitty can climb up. Or you can opt for a dedicated cat tree that provides high spaces for your kitten to climb and play.
6. SOMEWHERE TO REST
Cat are notoriously finicky about their beds – cat beds are the most common unused accessories in our experience! Having said that, cat cave-style beds which offer an enclosed cocoon for your kitten can give your kitten a space to rest in that feels cosy and safe. Alternatively, consider lining a shallow box with a blanket for your kitten. Anecdotally we find that our cats gravitate towards fleece or minky blankets – they seem to provide the optimum material for kneading with paws before settling down for a snooze!
7. A COLLAR & ID TAG
Kittens are curious creatures who love to test boundaries – including the boundaries of their new home. If they do dash for a front door or find their way out of a window, it’s essential to equip them with a visible form of identification that contains details of how to bring them home. That way, any good Samaritan who spots them can identify them and take swift action to reunite you.
As a second line of protection, it is also very important to microchip your kitten, as this will give your kitten a way to be ID-ed if they make it to a veterinary surgery or shelter where it can be scanned. But always remember that a kitten collar and visible ID is the first line of defence, as if your kitten goes missing, it’s likely to be a member of the public who comes across them first.
8. FOOD AND WATER BOWLS
You’ll want to provide your kitten with dedicated food and water bowls (that they don’t have to share with any other pets!). It’s best to keep their food and water in separate locations in the house, as many cats prefer not to eat and drink in the same place.
9. TRAVEL CARRIER
To bring your kitten home you’ll need a travel carrier, and it’s likely to get quite a bit of use over your kitten’s first few months as they visit the veterinary surgery for vaccinations, neutering and so on. The design of the carrier isn’t so important, but it is a good idea to line it with something that smells of the kitten when you pick them up (e.g. a blanket - you can ask their current home to prepare something for you in advance). Once you get home, leave the travel carrier out in the house – don’t pack it away in the garage or attic where it could pick up strange smells, as your kitten will perceive it as new and potentially scary when you later bring it out again.
10. GROOMING BRUSH
The importance of grooming for your kitten will depend on their fur length – if they are a long haired kitty then they’ll need to get in the habit of being brushed daily to prevent matting and tangles, whereas a short haired kitty may only need to be groomed once a week. Either way, you’ll want to equip yourself with a grooming brush that’s suitable for their fur type and to settle your kitten into a good routine with grooming early on.
KITTEN HARNESS & LEASH (Optional)
Harness training your kitten isn’t an essential. However, if you would like to introduce them to the outdoors for enrichment, then starting them off early in their harness and leash is the best time to begin! Kittens adapt to new things with ease, and you’re likely to find that your harness and leash training progresses quickly and easily when your kitten is still young. The training process is also a great way to introduce your kitten to core training skills – and is a fun project to embark on together!