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Possibly getting our first cat. What do we need for him/her?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I appreciate any advice you can offer.

If we get a cat (indoor-only) for our family, what are some of the things we should already have in place before we bring him/her home besides a water and food tray? We'll probably get a kitty from a shelter and we're thinking of getting a grown male cat (at least a year or two old).

- What is the best food for a cat -- canned or dried food and what's the best brand for a grown cat?

- Is there a preferable kitty litter that we should be looking for? Also, is there a preferable litter tray we should get?

- What about a bed for the cat to sleep on, do they need/want one?

- What else should we be thinking about beforehand?

Thank you!
post #2 of 6
I would get a scratchig post and some toys.
I would get a bed also.
There are alot of good foods out there so its hard to pick what food to tell you to get.
I would get the history of the cat if you can.
I lost Frisky age 1 and Bogart age almost 3 to male blockage.
Then my last Male Yoshi I lost in Jan.
I would make sure if you get a male to watch him for that.
Ask if you can interact with him in the cage. I use Yesterday News for my Cats and Blue Buffalo for the Food.
post #3 of 6
Oh I am so happy for you! Thank you for rescuing an older cat. Keeping him indoors-only will keep him safe (plus you will probably have lower vet bills!). Here's the website where nearly all shelters and rescue groups post pictures and list the cats they have available for adoption: http://www.petfinder.com. You can search by age, sex, etc.

There are many options for food. Feeding only wet food is best because cats are not naturally huge water drinkers (their water intake comes primarily from their food). I feed dry and wet because it would just be too expensive to feed 2 cats only wet food. As for food, buy a tiny bag of what the shelter is feeding the cat just so you can slowly transition him to the new food (otherwise you will get diarrhea or he might not eat at all). You do this over about 7 days by slowly mixing in a little of the new with the old food and gradually increasing the new to old ratio. For food, go to a local independent feed store or pet store. Those usually have the best options. Petco/Petsmart is your next best bet and grocery store foods should be avoided. I really like the Wellness brand (you can find it at Petco now). Other excellent brands: Innova, Evo, California Natural, etc. You don't have to be as picky about the ingredients in wet food as in dry because any wet food is better than no wet food at all for cats. If you post a brand you had in mind, I'm sure that people on this site could help you decide. I feed Natural Balance because it's affordable and easy to find and I like the ingredients. Whatever you end up feeding, don't free-feed dry food as it can lead to obesity which leads to all sorts of problems.

As for litter, uncovered boxes are best for cats. Covered boxes are kind of like the kitty equivalent of an outhouse. We have a covered box only because of our dog. I would buy unscented clumping clay litter to start with because the cat is probably used to that. My favorite cat litter is World's Best Cat Litter and it's actually made from corn. It's just a little out of my budget at the moment. There are all kinds of litter now: crystals, clay (clumping and non-clumping), corn based, paper, etc. I use Arm & Hammer clumping litter (unscented, because their scented litter is gross smelling). I've heard good things about Fresh Step.

I would skip a kitty bed for now. My cats never use them and yours probably will hide under the bed for the first week anyway.

When you bring the cat home, keep it in a small area (like a bathroom) with water/food/etc. for the night. Then let him explore a little the next day.

Other things to consider:

- Look at water fountains. They seem silly at first, but they really encourage water consumption in cats and that can prevent UTIs and kidney issues. Cats who eat only dry food are constantly dehydrated and that's obviously not healthy. I have the Petmate one but there are all sorts of kinds available.

- Da Bird cat toy. If you buy any cat toy, this would be the toy to use. I've never met a cat that wasn't interested in it. Even my lazy cat will sometimes play with it. The cat might not be super playful right away. Try to play with your cat about 10 minutes a day with interactive toys like this to make sure that he stays in shape.

- Claws. My cat uses her scratching post and nothing else and it was easy to train her to use it. I bought plastic claw covers (Soft Paws) but never even needed them for her. You'll want a good pair of claw trimmers to keep them nice and short and blunt. If you think you are going to have a problem with claws, look for a kitty in the shelter who is already de-clawed. Having your own cat de-clawed is very controversial and I do not support it, but there are many cats who are already de-clawed who need homes. They might be more prone to litter box issues though (it's more common with de-clawed cats). You'll also want to pick up a brush if you are getting a long-haired kitty.

I hope that helps! Post pictures when you find your new kitty.
post #4 of 6
As far as a bed - I've never had a cat use one
I do know though, that all my cats have loved fleecey material...so I keep small fleece throws around for where they like to sleep (the couch, my bed, the perch under the window, etc.)

I highly recommend a perch or cat tree/cat condo of some kind. Especially for indoor cats, having a raised place for them is essential. They like to look out the window and to get away from being underfoot.

The back of your couch may be against a good kitty window. Or you can get those cat-sill thingies at Pet Smart that screw into a window sill. My cat's spot is a cabinet that comes to window height with a pillow and fleece baby blanket on it. SHe gets her 'space" and a great view.

Cat condos/trees often come in several levels with hidey-holes and each post is for scratching. It's a good all-in-one item. You don't have to get one right away if you are in the market. Just keep in mind.

Get a scooper for the cat box. I use clumping litter and scoop every other day; keeps her litter area almost entirely odor free and kitty happy with her clean box.

Many opinions abound on food. I'm rusty on this, but for males it is ash and magnesium you should avoid I believe(or only allow in small doses) because it can cause blockage problems. I havent found a grocery store brand of cat food (like Cat Chow, Meow Mix, etc) that is good enough for many reasons. I feed a dry that has the first ingredient as CHICKEN (as in real chicken, not chicken meal or soy as the first ingredient). A lot less junk and my cat is able to better maintain her weight (she is prone to chubby). I also feed her wet for the moisure benefits and the higher protein content. She won't eat much of it so the dry is there too to round it out. I feed Blue Buffalo too for dry.

And I have noticed that her poo doesnt smell much at all when I'm feeding the "good stuff"...if she gets some treat meals or I feed her a sample I received...I REALLY notice the different in her box :holdnose
post #5 of 6
Originally Posted by CDubbie View Post
As far as a bed - I've never had a cat use one
mine use theirs... sometimes. but they also use mine, plus the sofas, the reflective pads, etc. in the summer, they're often on the floor, where it's cooler [i have wall-to-wall linoleum].
i have 5 cats - 2 that won't eat wet, & 3 that like it. my dry is Royal Canin Special 33 - seems to work well for them. wet is Authority lamb & rice - the only wet i could find w/o fish [my male is prone to peeing issues]. i also supplement w/about 3 tablespoons of a homemade food w/their can [3 cats split a 6 oz can every night].
if you decide to feed wet once a day, i recommend a night feeding - keeps them from trying to wake you up on a 'sleep-in' day.
my male is an adult adoptee, declawed by a previous owner. no litterbox issues, but he does have a tendency to bite unfamiliar people who touch him anywhere back of his head. doesn't do it much to me, anymore - but he trusts me, now. i usually only have problems w/him biting or attempting to bite when i'm doing something he doesn't want me to do - like combing out a mat. i'm just careful not to give him the opportunity. my other declaw, a female, i raised from kittenhood [i declawed her before i knew better ]. again, no litterbox issues, & she also isn't a biter.
post #6 of 6
I would pick out the cat, and then decide what you need.

Don't switch the cat's food right away. I would leave it be for the first week or two and then gradually switch him over to a better food. This will lower the stress of the transition for him, as well as give you some time to look into higher quality foods for him. I would keep him on the same sort of litter as well, for the same reason. He'll be in a new place with the new litter box...don't want to give him any excuses not to use it (ie. doesn't like the kind of litter). I don't know if it matters so much as the brand, but the general type (clay, corn, crystals, pellets).

As for litter boxes, I have a covered one (with the flap removed), and while I'm sure they might enjoy it better with the lid removed, it would tip over too easily and they would track litter everywhere (the lid forces them to exit onto the litter mat). If you can, you may want to start him with the same type of litter box he has at the shelter and then switch him over once he settles in. I would recommend getting a large litter mat at some point as well.

I know a lot of people here are recommending a cat tree. I would too, but again, I would wait, at least until you meet the cat. Maybe he's not a cat tree type of cat. Get some basic toys (fur mice, small balls - mine like ping pong balls, and a wand toy) and get some cardboard boxes (cut some holes in them for him to crawl through) and see how much he plays with those things. A decent cat tree is a big investment and there are a lot of choices out there. If you get a cat with claws (some come to the shelter de-clawed), I would recommend getting some things he can scratch right away - a sisel post and perhaps a cardboard scratcher that lies on the floor.

Over time, you will get to know the cat and figure out what he needs in terms of toys and litterboxes. As for food, there are a ton of threads on the site discussing what people feed and what to look for in a quality food. There is really no objective "best" - it's all a matter of opinion. I would venture a guess and say that MOST here feed a combination of wet and dry food (wet is better for them, dry is cheaper and more convenient for us, not to mention that some cats won't eat wet) and MOST feed non-grocery premium to super premium foods, that have meat as the main ingredient. Many feed grain free, but some cats do not tolerate the richness of grain-frees well. Many avoid any type of by-products and certain grains/glutens. Some are ok with those things. http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=137404 : this thread will get you started with knowing about some of the foods people here feed and why they choose them. As you will see, there is no straight forward answer to "what is the best food." If you have questions about litter, search the care and grooming forum on this site and there are a ton of threads about people's experiences with the whole gammut of choices!

As I said, I have a covered litter box...it is filled with World's Best Cat Litter, which is made of corn. My kittens were smelly and the litter box is in the small bathroom in our small apartment...I found that clay just started to smell up the place after a few days. Corn is much less smelly, IMO.

I free-feed my girls high-quality, grain-free dry (Orijen) and they get one meal a day of so-so quality wet (usually Authority). I would like them to eat more wet, but they are picky.

I had a water fountain (Petmate Fresh Flow), but they prefer to drink out of a drinking glass I have on the bathroom floor.

They have a cat bed...that one used to sleep on once in a while. One has claimed a wicker basket that I put some blankets in for her. Right now, one is sleeping on top of my printer and the other on top of the towels on the bathroom shelf. They find places to sleep...and it usually isn't where you choose for them!

We have a couple scratching posts/toys, as well as a 4 foot tall cat tree. If you get a cat tree, I would recommend just going all out and getting one that is at least 6 feet tall. Ours isn't cutting it anymore!

All this, but I have to say - if you are getting a cat out of a cage at a shelter, feeding him the food he is on at the shelter, giving him a clean place to "do his business", getting him checked out by a vet, and giving him your love, that will be all he NEEDS for the rest of his life. As you learn more and get to know him better, there will probably be some changes you will want to make. But, there is nothing else you need to do - you are already saving his life!

One last thing...if anyone (ie. the vet) suggests switching him onto a food like Science Diet, please don't do it (unless it is for a specific, health related issue that requires special nutritional consideration). It is marketed as the best and vet-recommended, but it is over-priced and no better than some of the grocery brands out there (which are not very good!).

I hope you find a new little one to bring home and have a sucessful adoption. Good luck, and continue to visit the site so you can learn more!
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