When you first get your cat, you’ll need to spend about $20 for a litter box and $35 for a carrier. Food runs about $170 a year, plus $50 annually for toys and treats, $175 annually for litter and an average of $150 for veterinary care every year. The best place to get a cat? Your local shelter!
Cat Supply Checklist
- Premium-brand cat food
- Food dish
- Water bowl
- Interactive toys
- Break-Away cat collar with ID tag
- Scratching post or scratching pad
- Litter box
- Cat carrier
- Cat bed or box with warm blanket or towel
- An adult cat should be fed one large or two or three smaller meals each day.
- Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks must eat four times a day.
- Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day.
You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes, or keep dry food available at all times. We recommend a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food; avoid generic brands. You will need to provide fresh, clean water at all times, and wash and refill water bowls daily. Although cat owners of old were told to give their pets a saucer of milk, cats do not easily digest cow’s milk, which can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Treats are yummy for cats, but don’t go overboard. Most packaged treats contain lots of sugar and fat, which can pack on the pounds. Some cats like fresh fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, corn or cantaloupe. You can offer these once in a while. If your kitten is refusing food or isn’t eating enough, try soaking her kitten food in warm water. If that doesn’t work, kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with her regular food.
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but you should brush or comb your cat regularly. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs.
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck or by the front legs.
Your pet should have her own clean, dry place in your home to sleep and rest. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. Cats who are allowed outdoors can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, or get into fights with other free-roaming cats and dogs. Also, cats may prey on native wildlife.
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat must wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. And if your pet is indoors-only, an ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Keep in mind that cats won’t use a messy, smelly litter box, so scoop solid wastes out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent and refill at least once a week; you can do this less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use ammonia, deodorants or scents, especially lemon, when cleaning the litter box.
Cats delight in stalking imaginary prey. The best toys are those that can be made to jump and dance around and look alive. Your cat can safely act out her role as a predator by pouncing on toys instead of people’s ankles. Please don’t use your hands or fingers as play objects with kittens. This type of rough play may cause biting and scratching behaviors to develop as your kitten matures.
Cats need to scratch! When a cat scratches, the old outer nail sheath is pulled off and the sharp, smooth claws underneath are exposed. Cutting your cat’s nails every two to three weeks will keep them relatively blunt and less likely to harm the arms of both humans and furniture. Provide your cat with a sturdy scratching post, at least three feet high, which will allow her to stretch completely when scratching. The post should also be stable enough that it won’t wobble during use, and should be covered with rough material such as sisal, burlap or tree bark. Many cats also like scratching pads. A sprinkle of catnip once or twice a month will keep your cat interested in her post or pad