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Human with their cat and a food bowl.

Everything You Need For A Cat: The Must-Have Item Checklist

Do you have a new cat on the way to finding their forever home? Adopting a cat is such a rewarding adventure and we have no doubt that you’ll love every moment together! But of course, as a new cat parent, you’ll need to ask yourself one important question: what do cats actually need? Well, fear not. From scratching posts to cat carriers, we’ve put together the ultimate cat-care checklist.

Comfortable Cat Bed

First on our list of must-have cat items is a comfortable bed. There are plenty to choose from, but your main considerations should be a bed that is warm, accessible, easy to clean, and that has a lip for them to peer over. Cats usually prefer to sleep in an elevated position too, so ideally choose a bed that you can place off the ground. And on that note, as much as you can spend a fortune on a new cat bed, be prepared for your cat to also find their own places to sleep and rest.

Cat in a comfortable cat bed.

Litter Box

A litter box is a must for all cats. It should be 1.5 times the length of your cat to enable them to comfortably move around and should be placed in a quiet area away from food and water. As with cat beds, there are a wide array of litter trays to choose from, but bear in mind that some cats have an aversion to the hooded variety. If you’re adopting a kitten, you should also be prepared to need a larger tray in future as your kitty grows.

Litter Substrate and Scoop

There’s no point having a litter box if you don't have any litter to go inside it! Cat litter tends to be a soft, clumping, sand-like substrate that doesn’t have any fragrance. It’s best to find out what litter your cat has been using prior to their adoption, though you can try alternatives over time to see what works best for you both. 

When it comes to cleaning out their litter box, another important thing for cats is a cat-safe disinfectant. Likewise, you’ll need a scoop for daily removal of any dirty litter.

Water and Food Stations

We can’t put together a cat-care checklist without discussing water and food bowls. Ideally, these should be placed in separate locations from each other in your house. Some cats prefer a wide bowl filled to the brim with water as this helps to prevent their whiskers from getting wet. Others prefer to have running water such as from a fountain. Wide, flat bowls or plates made from ceramic or tough glass are often the best choice. Try to avoid plastic and stainless steel as these can either hold taste or be reflective.

Another good idea is to consider getting a few puzzle or activity feeders. These provide a more interactive way for your cat to get their food and are great for mental stimulation.


Person feeding their cat.


As with your cat litter, you should find out what food your cat is currently eating. Once they’re settled in their new home, you can slowly transition them to an alternative.

Scratching Post or Object

Scratching is a natural part of cat behavior that they’re going to do daily. So, to avoid your cat making any unwanted marks on your furniture, it’s best to get a dedicated scratching object. Many cats prefer a vertical rope scratching post but there are plenty of alternative options, and it can be fun to experiment and see which your cat prefers. For example, you could try an angled scratching pad or carpeted blocks. If you do go for a conventional scratching post, make sure it’s tall enough for your cat to fully stretch and reach up against.

  Ginger cat scratching against a scratching post.

Cat Tower or Tree

Cat towers and trees can be great for cats. These provide elevated points for resting and can also be used for scratching, dangling toys, or simply for climbing. There are plenty of options available when it comes to cat towers and cat trees so you shouldn’t have any problems finding a design that fits your home. If you have more than one cat, make sure to choose a cat tower with different levels as they may not always be keen on sharing!

Toys and Games

Another must-have cat item is toys. Playing is an important activity for cats as it provides an outlet for energy and their natural instinct to hunt. And as it happens, finding which toys your cat prefers can also be a lot of fun. Different options can include fishing rod toys, catnip mice, or simply playing fetch with a ball.

It’s a good idea to have a few different toys and to bring them out in rotation, as this is another great way of providing mental stimulation. Just make sure that any toys are safe for cats. For instance, toys with feathers or bells that could come loose shouldn’t be left out for any unsupervised play.

  Cat on a cat tower playing with a fishing rod toy.

FELIWAY® Optimum

A few days before your new cat arrives, consider plugging in a FELIWAY® Optimum diffuser in the area you expect your cat will be spending most of their time. FELIWAY® Optimum is perfect for providing a calming environment for stressed cats or for introducing a cat to a new space. 

Cat Grooming Items

The ultimate cat-care checklist should include a brush or comb, grooming glove, a set of cat-specific nail clippers, and even toothpaste and a toothbrush for cats. After all, while cats do a fabulous job of grooming themselves, there are steps we can take to help further.

Regular grooming helps to remove loose hair and means we can keep an eye on any knots or mats before they start to develop. It’s also an opportunity for cats and humans to spend some bonding time together while we check over our cats’ skin health. 

Nail clipping might not be necessary too often, as you may find that your cat’s claws are at a safe length from where they’ve been scratching on their tower or scratching post, but there may be times when it’s helpful to trim them down. As for brushing a cat’s teeth, this can also be a positive part of a cat’s routine. It’s best to introduce this when a kitten is still young, beginning with a soft finger brush, and make sure to always use cat-specific toothpaste.

 Cat being brushed by a human.

Cat Carrier

If you’re asking the question “What do cats need?”, we’ve got to mention how to choose a cat carrier. Cat carriers are essential for safe travel and any visits to the vet. Ideally you should opt for a cat carrier that is sturdy, easy to clean, and allows access to your cat without them having to leave the carrier.


Cat treats are always handy to have around. They come in several forms, from freeze-dried treats to lickable purees. Look for treats that you can give to your cat daily–  it can be a great way to build your relationship together. You can also use treats as a reward, such as during cat carrier training or grooming.

Of course, treats should be used in moderation, and you should make sure you take any treats into consideration when assessing your cat’s daily ration.

Is there anything you think we should add to our list of must-have cat items? Let us know! We always love hearing from you and discussing all things feline. You can also stay up to date with all the latest updates from FELIWAY® by signing up to our newsletter.



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