What you need for a new cat or kitten

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When you adopt a cat or kitten, from us or anyone else, there are some items you will need. There's often lots of choice and if you haven't had a cat or kitten before it can be bewildering. Here are our recommendations. As a minimum you will need the following:

Litter tray, litter scoop and litter

Food and water bowls

Suitable food

Cat carrier

Scratching Post

You may be surprised we don't recommend a cat bed, cats may have their favourite sleeping places, but in most cases you can be certain that will be anywhere the cat bed isn't

Litter tray, litter scoop and litter

Buy the largest litter tray you can find. Even a kitten as young as eight weeks can use a large tray and won't outgrow it. With small trays, especially shallow ones, you may have a problem with your cat messing over or onto the edge of the tray. Also, if you are not able to clean the tray straight away, they may not want to use it again, and might use the floor instead. Deep trays help prevent this, and also hold more litter without it spreading around outside the tray.

There are many types of cat litter, but the Fuller's Earth type is the cheapest and available from most supermarkets.

Don't be tempted to use a litter deodorant, as most cats don't like getting it on their paws, and it may put them off using the tray. Locate the tray away from the food - cats, like us, are not keen on eating close to their toilet, so may not use a tray that is too close to their food.

Food and water bowls

We find the best are either stainless steel or china, as plastic seems to make wet (canned) food go off quicker, especially during the summer. It helps if the bowls are shaped so they don't easily tip over, especially for kittens. Ideally, you should have three bowls - one for wet food, one for dry food and one for water. You should also keep a spoon or fork just for serving cat food, and keep and wash it separately from your own.

Food and feeding

Always buy a good-quality food - wet as well as dry. If you only have one or two cats, pouches are ideal - if you can, buy in larger quantities as it works out cheaper.

If you are out all day, the best way to feed is to give wet food in the morning, then leave dry food and water available for the day. In the evening, give wet food again. If you are feeding mostly or all dry foods (some cats won't eat wet food at all), then make sure the food is a complete diet - some cheaper biscuits are only suitable as part of a mixed diet. In this case, it is worth looking for a food that promotes a healthy urinary tract, which can avoid problems later in life.

Cat carrier

You will need a carrier to collect your cat from us - a cardboard box is not suitable. Many vets won't allow you to hold a cat in your arms when you visit, either. Don't be tempted to buy a small carrier because you are getting a kitten - they grow quickly. There are several types of carrier, which can be broadly split into front entry and top entry. It really comes down to personal choice, but the top-entry carriers are easier to get cats into and out of, especially if they aren't keen. Front-entry carriers are less open, though, and this helps to keep some cats calmer. Also, if your cat is nervous and urinates in the carrier, it is less likely to leak out into the car. Make sure it has secure closures - some of the front-opening carriers have plastic doors, and the locking lugs can get broken; metal doors are much better.

For bedding in the carrier, one of the best is a disposable baby-changing pad. They are ideally sized, and if the cat has an accident on the way to the vet, for example, they are easily disposed of.

Scratching post

A scratching post can be a great investment or a waste of money, depending on whether your cat will use it. Many people find they aren't used, because they don't understand what the cat thinks they are for. To a cat, scratching isn't just to sharpen their claws, but a way of scent-marking to let other cats know they are around. There's no point scent-marking a scratching post that's tucked away behind a door - the three-piece suite is much better! So site the scratching post at a junction or cross-roads, such as the bottom of the stairs or just inside a door the cat uses often. There are lots of variations on the market, so you should be able to find a suitable design to suit the cat, the location and your taste in decor. It's worth taking a moment to consider what it will look like when it has been well used - some don't wear well.