Getting a cat

How to prepare your home for a cat

Are you all set for your new cat? Here's everything you need to know about preparing your home for your first cat(s).

How to prepare your home for a cat
Barbara September 8, 2023 • 2 minutes read

When bringing a new cat - or multiple cats - into your home, it’s essential to get your home ready for their arrival. Doing the necessary preparation will ensure your cat feels welcome and comfortable in their new home.

In this article, we’ll explore the essentials of getting your home ready for a cat and further tips for creating the perfect living environment for your feline companion.

Checklist: Cat care essentials

If you’re a new cat parent, it can be overwhelming to figure out what items you need for your cat. To make sure you’re well prepared for your cat’s arrival, here’s a checklist of essential items you’ll need:

1. Litter box

A litter box is a must-have for any cat. Choose one that’s appropriate for your cat’s size and has enough room for them to move around.

For kittens: Make sure to pick a litter box that’s not too deep and has low sides, so they can easily access it. When they’re adults, you can switch to a larger litter box.

Multiple Cats, Multiple Boxes: If you have two or more cats, it is recommended to have at least two litter boxes in your home, ideally in different rooms. 1

Cats value their privacy. So, place the litter box in a quiet spot where they can do their business without feeling observed. Hooded models can offer privacy, but not all cats like them. 2

Most cats prefer larger litter boxes. Research suggests that when given the option, cats are more likely to use larger litter boxes compared to standard ones. 3 Opt for a spacious one to ensure your cat feels comfortable.

Keep it Clean: Regular cleaning is crucial. Clean the litter box at least once a day to keep it fresh. When it’s consistently clean, most cats won’t fuss over the type of litter box you choose. 2

2. Cat litter

There are different types of litter available for cats. Each type has its own set of pros and cons.

My favorite option is the clumping type, which forms clumps when it gets wet. This makes cleanup easier and more efficient as the clumps can easily be scooped out with a litter scoop.

It’s a good idea to avoid scented cat litters, as cats can be sensitive to strong smells. Unscented varieties are gentler on their noses and also less likely to irritate their eyes and respiratory system.

On top of that, don’t forget to get a litter scoop - it’s essential for cleaning the litter box!

3. Cat carrier

You won’t use the cat carrier daily, but it’s nonetheless an essential item. You’ll need the carrier for transporting your cat to the vet or any other destination.

Select a carrier that’s large enough for your cat to stand up, turn around, and lie down in comfortably. 1 For most cats, it’s best to get a hard-sided carrier with plenty of ventilation.

If you have two cats, get two carriers - just in case. I have a spacious carrier for both of my cats. They are totally fine with sharing it for vet visits. I think it calms them down, as they are used to being together.

4. Food & water bowls

This is another obvious one, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. I recommend stainless steel or ceramic dishes. They are much harder to tip over than plastic ones. Plus, they’re more durable and easier to clean!

I personally use ceramic bowls, as they’re not only easy to clean but also come in cute designs - and who doesn’t love cute cat bowls?

For water, you can either use a water fountain or regular bowls. Especially for cats who don’t drink enough water, fountains can be a great way to get them to drink more.

Also, I recommend having multiple “drinking stations”. For example, I have one in the kitchen, one on the balcony, and another one upstairs in the living room.

5. Cat food

When it comes to feeding your cat, you have many options. In general, there’s wet and dry food, and age-specific foods for kittens, adults, and senior cats.

Wet food is high in moisture, about 80%. This helps your cat stay hydrated, as cats can be prone to dehydration. 1

Dry food is more calorie-dense and can make a good snack or complement to wet food. With only about 10% moisture content, it’s important to ensure your cat drinks enough water. 1

If you’re not sure what cat kind of food to choose, ask your vet. They can provide personalized advice tailored to your cat’s age, weight, and health condition.

6. Cat toys

Toys are important for providing your cat with mental stimulation and physical activity. Here are my top picks:

There are many more great toys out there. But the ones listed above are my cats’ favorites.

7. Cat trees & scratching posts

Cat trees are a great way to give your cats access to different levels in your home. Cats love being up high and will use the tree as an extra spot for napping, playing, and even marking their territory.

Scratching posts are also important for cats. Not only do they provide a place for them to scratch without destroying your furniture, but they also help keep their claws in good shape. 4

For scratching posts, opt for one that’s tall enough for your cat to stretch out while scratching. Also, locate them close to your cat’s favorite resting places. Cats usually stretch and scratch immediately after waking up, so it’s best to have them nearby. 4

8. Bedding

Cats spend a lot of time of their day resting and sleeping, so it’s essential to provide them with comfortable spots to do so. 5 There are lots of bedding options available, from simple blankets to more elaborate cat beds.

The most important thing is that the bedding has a comfy surface, such as pillows or fleece. 5 Your cat should feel snug and secure in their bedding - it’s their retreat from the world and a place of safety.

9. Grooming tools

Cats are very clean animals, and grooming is a huge part of their daily routine. In general, they don’t need much help with grooming. Still, there are a few essential grooming tools that are helpful to have on hand.

If your cat is an outdoor cat, having a brush and tick remover at home can come in handy. For indoor cats, a de-shedding brush and nail clipper are good items to have in your grooming kit.

8 Tips for making your space cat-friendly

Cats make wonderful companions and can bring so much joy into our lives. It’s only fair to offer them a safe and comfortable space to live in where they can truly thrive.

Here are eight tips that can help you make your home more cat-friendly:

1. Make your balcony cat-safe

If you have a balcony, it’s crucial to install a safety net around the railing so your cat can’t jump out. Believe me, it’s much better to be safe than sorry!

I’ve experienced it first hand - I live in a top-floor apartment, and the railing of my balcony is pretty high, so I never thought to worry about my cats jumping out. One day, though, I caught one of them (Kevin) sitting on the roof - it was a real heart-stopper moment!

So, make sure to install a balcony safety net for your cat’s safety and your peace of mind.

2. Keep dangerous items away

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Cats are curious creatures, so they will investigate anything and everything. So it’s important to keep items like plastic bags, cleaning products, and small objects that can be swallowed out of their reach.

3. Provide places to hide

Cats love to find cozy, hidden spots where they can relax and nap. Provide them with a few hiding spots throughout your home.

There are many options here - you can buy a cat cave, provide some boxes with a blanket inside, or even repurpose furniture where your cat can hide in.

For example, the IKEA Kallax shelf makes a great hiding spot for cats - just put a blanket inside one of the cubbies, and your cat will love it!

Hiding spots allow your cat to have some alone time and feel safe and secure in their own space. 5

4. Cats love high places

Cats love to monitor their surroundings from high places, so make sure to provide them with some shelves and cat trees. 5 This will give them an opportunity to explore their environment from different heights and can also help keep them entertained.

And you can bet that your cats will find a way to get into the highest spot in your house - no matter what it is! Whether it’s a closet, a rack, or the top of your fridge - they will find a way up.

5. Install window perches

Cats love to sit and observe the outside world, so providing them with window perches is a great way to give your cats some entertainment and mental stimulation. 5 It’s like having their own TV show!

When choosing a window perch, make sure to get one that can hold your cat’s weight without wobbling or shifting. This will keep your cats safe and secure while they watch the birds and squirrels outside.

If your window sills are wide enough for your cat to fit, you can just place a cushion for them to sit on. It’s the same principle as window perches but without needing to buy any extra furniture.

6. Check your plants

If you have any houseplants, make sure to check that they are not toxic for cats. Some plants, such as English ivy, lilies, and philodendron, are toxic if ingested by cats, so it’s best to keep these out of your home and replace them with non-toxic alternatives.

7. Bring in some cat grass

Cat grass has many benefits for cats. It helps keep their digestive system running smoothly, and it can prevent them from nibbling on your houseplants. 1 You can either buy pre-potted plants of cat grass from pet stores or supermarkets or plant some cat grass seeds yourself.

8. Catnip toys can help ease stress

When your new cat first moves in, they may feel scared and overwhelmed. Catnip toys can be a great way to help your cat relax and adjust to their new home.

Catnip has a euphoric effect on cats and can be used to improve their quality of life. Each cat reacts differently to catnip. However, there are common responses, such as rolling around, rubbing against the toy, sniffing, licking, and biting the toy, and kicking it with their hind feet. 6

Not all cats are responsive to catnip. However, there are other options available, such as valerian root, silver vine, and honeysuckle.

In a study conducted in 2017, they examined the responsiveness of 100 domestic cats to catnip and similar plants. Here are the results: 6

As you can see, cats respond differently to different plants, so it’s worth trying out a few of them and seeing what works for your cat.

Now you’re all set for your new cat(s). Wishing you and your furry family member(s) many years of love, cuddles, and purrs!

  1. Ludwig, G. (2018). Katzen - Das große Praxishandbuch. GU. ISBN 978-3-8338-28275 ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. Grigg, E. K., Pick, L., & Nibblett, B. M. D. (2012). Litter box preference in domestic cats: covered versus uncovered. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 15(4), 280–284. ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. Guy, N. C., Hopson, M., & Vanderstichel, R. (2014). Litterbox size preference in domestic cats (Felis catus). Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 9(2), 78–82. ↩︎

  4. The Cat Encyclopedia: The Definitive Visual Guide (2014). Dorling Kindersley Limited. A Penguin Random House Company. ISBN 978-1-4093-4790-3 ↩︎ ↩︎

  5. Rochlitz, I. (2005). A review of the housing requirements of domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) kept in the home. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 93(1–2), 97–109. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  6. Bol, S., Caspers, J., Buckingham, L., Anderson-Shelton, G. D., Ridgway, C., Buffington, C. T., Schulz, S., & Bunnik, E. M. (2017). Responsiveness of cats (Felidae) to silver vine (Actinidia polygama), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and catnip (Nepeta cataria). BMC Veterinary Research, 13(1). ↩︎ ↩︎

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