Crazy about a cat? Smitten with a kitten? Congratulations on the new addition to the family. “Cats are unique creatures,” says Chris Menges, a veterinarian in Austin, Texas, working in digital pet care delivery. “Yes, they can be more aloof than dogs, but interacting and communicating with your cat can provide one of the deepest human-animal bonds that is seen.”
Job one of cat parenthood is finding the right veterinarian. “The saying ‘You have nothing without your health’ is applicable not just to us but to our pets as well,” notes veterinarian Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture in New York City. “You need a veterinarian who you feel comfortable discussing your concerns with.”
Once you’ve got a good doctor in your back pocket, it’s time to round up the must-haves all cats need. With help from veterinarians, we’ve pinpointed what to pick up to keep your dearest friend happy and healthy. Have a dog? Check out our vet-approved dog supplies too.
Burt’s Bees Dander-Reducing Wipes ($5.99, originally $11.99; amazon.com)
If you’ve ever given a cat a bath, you know— Actually, nobody has ever successfully given a cat a bath, so never mind. “Bath wipes are great for helping with grooming,” notes Barrack.
These pH-balanced wipes not only clean away dirt, but they also condition their coat and soothe their skin with oatmeal, reducing flakes. Free of chemicals, they’re safe for kittens as well.
Y YHY Elevated Cat Bowl ($16.99; amazon.com)
In the wild, cats hunt small game like birds and rodents. “This puts a cat’s ‘normal’ feeding position into a crouch,” explains Menges. “Ideally, then, feeding bowls should be slightly raised, like this one.” Aside from being higher off the floor for your cat’s comfort, it also has a wide, flat surface. “That can help prevent the annoying or even painful whisker contact that can happen with deep bowls,” Menges adds.
Hesiry Cat Brush (starting at $11.97, originally starting at $20.97; amazon.com)
“Regular brushing reduces shedding, improves circulation, can prevent painful matting and may help you detect ticks and fleas,” asserts Heidi Cooley, veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, Washington.
The stainless steel teeth on this brush are flexible to get to the undercoat with ease, while rubber tips keep grooming gentle. Just push the button on the back to release the hair. (They should put that feature on human brushes.)
PetSafe Zoom ($24.95; amazon.com)
“Cats are notorious for lounging around all day, but they should get some play and exercise time in too,” urges Zay Satchu, veterinarian at Bond Vet in New York City. “Laser pointers are a great way to get kitty moving.”
This techy cat toy will have your pet chasing, jumping and rolling trying to “catch” the two laser beams. The lasers rotate 360 degrees, creating irresistible patterns. Thoughtful feature: It turns off automatically after 15 minutes.
Pet Republique Cat Nail Clipper ($6.98, originally $11.99; amazon.com)
“To save time and money getting manicures at the vet or groomer, a cat nail clipper definitely comes in handy,” says Barrack. “Always trim above the pink part so you don’t hurt your fur baby,” she cautions.
Small scissorlike clippers tend to be easier to use than larger squeeze-style ones. That’s especially true of this one, as it’s ergonomically designed and has strong stainless steel blades.
Arm & Hammer Fresh Breath Dental Kit for Cats ($4.44; amazon.com)
The condition of a cat’s teeth and gums impacts their overall health, says Satchu. She advocates regularly brushing a cat’s teeth in between cleanings by your vet with an enzymatic pet toothpaste and a soft brush. (Never use your own toothpaste on your cat’s teeth.)
Wielding this baking soda-based toothpaste and angled brush, you’ll make short work of unhealthy tartar. The paste is tuna flavored but somehow doesn’t smell fishy. They’ll lick their chops, and they’ll get fresh breath. Amazing.
Miss Meow Cat Bed ($28.99; amazon.com)
You may have noticed that your cat likes to cuddle up in a corner of the recliner or in another “protected” spot. Menges explains, “This lets the cat warm a sleeping area with their body heat, and it prevents sneak attacks from predators.” Even if the only predator around is your Welsh corgi that throws shade at them for taking the sunny spot on the couch, “that latter aspect is left over from evolutionary instincts. You can help them find that comfort with this hybrid bed and cave.”
Go Pet Club Cat Tree ($79.99; amazon.com)
In nature, cats are both predators and prey, so a cat tree with perches from which to pounce, as well as hiding spots, will be irresistible, says Barrack.
This feline hangout checks all the boxes, with soft, comfy surfaces, dangling fuzzy mouse toys to swat at and posts wrapped in sisal for impromptu clawing. It’s spacious enough for two cats to share.
PetSafe Drinkwell 360 Fountain ($39.95; amazon.com)
“Cats can be notoriously picky water drinkers,” says Menges. Dehydration makes cats prone to kidney disease. This PetSafe fountain will entice cats to drink. “This cat fountain has a nice open bowl to protect from that whisker fatigue, with enough storage and space for multi-cat households.” Plus, it has a filtering system that pulls cat hair out of the water (wow!) and dishwasher-safe parts.
Dmisochr Escape Proof Cat Harness and Leash Set (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
“Occasionally taking an indoor cat outside safely can help relieve stress, burn off energy and be fun for both of you,” says Menges. “This combination harness and leash is a great tool for a safe adventure in your backyard or other protected space. Some cats take a little time to get used to a harness, but it can lead to a brand-new world for them to explore.”
Litter Genie Litter Box ($19.99; amazon.com)
As far as litter boxes go, Menges’ philosophy is the bigger, the better. And if you have a big cat, like a Maine coon, a spacious litter box is more than just nice to have; it’s essential. “Imagine if you had to go in an airplane restroom for the rest of your life,” laughs Menges. “Also, using a deep litter box means less mess coming out of the sides for you to clean up.”
This modern-esque litter box from Litter Genie is plenty roomy for a larger cat, and will help keep your floor free of litter. What’s really ingenious about it, though, is the flexible handles. When it’s time to clean it out, you can just carry it off to the trash can.
Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover ($9.88, originally $11.99; amazon.com)
Any feline is apt to have an accident now and then. But regular household cleaners usually don’t work so well on them. An enzymatic pet stain cleaner will totally neutralize the odors, which will keep your cat from being able to smell their…handiwork. Otherwise, they may give you a repeat performance, says Satchu. She points to Nature’s Miracle as a “great” cleaner for the job.
Petmate Booda Dome Clean Step Litter Box ($39.95, originally $41.99; amazon.com)
Obviously, if you have a cat, you need a litter box. “One of my top picks is this Petmate model, which helps to reduce odors and tracking of litter outside the box,” says Albert Ahn, veterinarian for Myos Pet in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey.
4Claws Furry Pet Bed and Mat ($36.99; amazon.com)
Arguably, the most important purchase for a cat after a litter box is a snuggly spot for them to curl up in. “One of my favorites is this convertible furry mat that easily folds into a bed,” says Ahn. It’s great for small spaces (and traveling, which we will do again someday) and is machine-washable.
Henkelion Cat Backpack ($39.99; amazon.com)
Taylor Swift may have ignited the kitty-in-a-bubble-backpack craze, but the adorable accessory is more than just trendy. “If you want to take your cat on a plane or train, or even on a bit of a hike, this Henkelion backpack provides an entertaining view and ventilation for your cat, so they can see and smell the outside from safely behind their window,” says Menges.
Pioneer Pet SmartCat Bootsie’s Combination Scratcher ($19.99; amazon.com)
All cats will look for a place to scratch, for “lots of reasons, from marking territory to sharpening their claws to playing,” explains Ahn. Yes, even indoor cats like to mark their territory. “A good-quality scratching post is vitally important in your home to protect your furnishings and molding.” He likes this versatile scratcher, “because it can be positioned horizontally on the floor or wall mounted to accommodate your cat’s preference.”
Pet Evac Pak for Cats ($67.99; amazon.com)
Extreme weather events aren’t so surprising anymore, unfortunately. And it’s easy to forget that you need to plan for your cat’s safety in an emergency evacuation. A 2018 survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital found that 91% of pet owners are not prepared for the next natural disaster. Cooley advises thinking ahead with a disaster preparedness kit. Don’t forget to tuck in a photo of you and your pet in case you get separated, she advises.
This kit contains everything you need (except a carrier) to keep your cat safe for 72 hours, from collapsible bowls and shelf-stable food to tweezers and a blanket. It all fits inside an easy-to-grab cinch bag.
Petcube Pet Monitoring Camera ($39.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
The PetCube is a great tool to stay connected with your cat while you’re away from home. “This remote webcam allows you to see what your cat is up to, but also to interact with him with speech and by dispensing treats!” says Menges.
Best Friends by Sherri OrthoComfort Deep Dish Cuddler (starting at $21.31; amazon.com)
For cats that don’t like the sense of being inside while they sleep, Menges recommends this open-top orthopedic cuddler. “It provides spectacular joint support,” he says. That makes it extra comfy for felines of all ages, but it can be a real boon for older pets. The cover comes off for washing, and it’s big enough for two average-size cats to share.
Purina Tidy Cats Clumping Cat Litter ($28.40; amazon.com)
“Just as important as the box is the litter inside it,” insists Menges. “You want a litter that’ll cut down on dust and odors.” Because their sense of smell is keener than ours, many cats are bothered by the “fresh” scents in many litters. “I like to use an unscented, low-dust litter, such as this one by Tidy Cats. It provides excellent odor and microbial control without the added fresheners,” he says.