Happy Cat Central

What Do Cats Need? A Complete Guide to Your New Feline Friend

What do cats need

What do cats need? If you’ve adopted your first cat or kitten and are looking for a list of items you need to satisfy their basic needs then look no further. The comprehensive list of items to buy for a new cat will set you up for success when it comes to making your cat feel at home.

Adopting a new pet can be overwhelming, but with the right supplies, it can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Whether you’re adopting a kitten, adult cat, or senior cat you’ll find everything you need to make your new pet at home.

In this article we’ll be exploring the following essentials:

Food and water
Litter box
Veterinary Care
Love and Companionship
What do kittens need?
What do senior cats need?

Food and water

What do cats need- food and water

Cat food and fresh water are essential for every cat. To keep your cat hydrated and healthy it’s important to offer water at all times. You can opt for a simple water bowl or try out a more fancy cat water fountain. Either way, you’ll want to have water available at all times.

The type of food that your cat should eat is dependent on their age, weight, breed, and health status. You can either leave dry food out at all times or feed your cat on a schedule.

If you have an outdoor cat or indoor cat, it’s important to make sure your new feline family member has access to food and water.

Food and water checklist

Cat food

Food bowl

Water bowl or water fountain

Litter box

what do cats need - litter box

Your new adult cat or kitten is going to need a place to go to the bathroom. Litter boxes are most common when it comes to your new cat’s bathroom. The litter box must be in a place that your cat can easily access at all times. There are a variety of litter boxes that you can choose from to fit your home’s design and decor.

Along with a litter box, you’re also going to need to purchase cat litter. This litter will need to be changed out regularly to keep the litter box sanitary. You can do this daily with a cat litter scooper or change out the entire box entirely every few days. Once you bring your new cat home, keep track of how often they’re using the bathroom so you can stay on top of changing the litter.

If you adopt more than one cat, you may need to buy an additional litter box.

Litter box checklist

Litter box

Cat litter

Litter scoop

Litter liner(optional)


Keep your cat safe by getting them a collar and ID tag. This will help you locate your cat if they ever get out of the house or become lost. A collar lets people know that the cat is a pet and the ID tag will let them contact you.

If your cat is an indoor cat, you can include the words “if found” on the tag along with your phone number. You can also get your new cat or kitten microchipped. If your lost cat is found, most vets or pounds will scan for a microchip that is registered to you. This will help you be more easily reconnected with your lost feline friend.

Identification Checklist

Cat collar

ID tag

Microchip (can be acquired through your vet)


Happy cats are entertained cats. Having toys to keep your cat (especially indoor cats) is essential to keeping them stimulated and preventing destructive behavior.

what do cats need - toys

There are plenty of different cat toys out there geared at physical and mental stimulation. While there are fancy options out there like electronic toys, you don’t have to break the bank when buying cat toys.

Many cats prefer simple toys like toy balls or toys that that jingle. Most cats love catnip, which can be found in many toys. Some cats may prefer items found around the house instead, like toilet paper rolls or a cardboard box.

To keep your cat from scratching your furniture or carpet, you’ll want to get them a scratching post. A sturdy scratching post is a great item to invest in to keep your cat’s destructive behavior at bay. You can get a simple scratching post that lays on the ground or one that stands up.

If you’re looking to splurge on your new cat, then check out cat trees. A cat tree combines cat toys and scratching posts to keep your cat both entertained and happy. Most cats respond well to cat trees oftentimes using them as their favorite nap spot.

Cat entertainment checklist

Cat toys (include some with catnip)

Scratching post

Cat Tree


When you get a new cat, you’ll need to get a carrier to transport them outside of your home including to the vet. There are many types of cat carriers to choose from so you’ll want to pick one that fits your cat’s needs.

Transportation checklist

Cat Carrier


what do cats need - toys

Cats are clean creatures by nature, but you’ll still want a few grooming tools on hand to keep their coats shiny and healthy. Both short and long-haired cats will benefit from being brushed. Many cats will shed and keeping their coat brushed will help keep hair from accumulating on your floor and clothes.

If you have the budget, an automatic robot vacuum that runs daily can help keep up with any cat hair that accumulates on your floor.

If you have an indoor cat, you’ll also want to invest in a pair of cat nail clippers. This, along with the scratching post, will help minimize damage to your house.

Grooming checklist

Cat brush

Cat nail clippers

Robot vacuum (optional)


Every cat needs a place to sleep. You’ll find most of the time cats will sleep on the floor or the couch. As long as you have plenty of comfy places for your cat to sleep you should be fine. However, some pet owners will opt to buy a cat bed for their new pet. Most cats don’t sleep in cat beds as dogs do, but you’ll learn your cat’s preference over time.

You’ll also want to set up a “safe space” for your cat. This can be a room out of the way from all the noise and activity that the cat can retreat to if they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Comfort checklist

Cat bed or warm blanket

Safe space

Veterinary Care

what do cats need - vet

One of the most important things you can do for your new cat is regularly take them to the vet. When you first get your new kitten or cat, one of the first things you’ll want to do is schedule an appointment with your vet. They’ll do a physical examination of your cat, as well as get them up to speed on any necessary vaccinations.

Once your cat is old enough, you’ll want to get them spayed or neutered so that you don’t find yourself with an unexpected litter of kittens on your hands.

Regardless of if your new pet is an indoor or outdoor cat, you’ll want to look into flea and tick prevention medication. Speak with your vet to understand which treatment is right for your new friend.

Love and Companionship

What do cats need? Your love and companionship. While cats as a whole are thought of as more independent than other pets, they still require love and attention. You may find that your new pet disappears for hours at a time to sleep which is normal, but when they’re out and about show them affection by rubbing their chin or petting them.

What do kittens need?

For the most part, kittens need just about the same basics as adult cats. However, they’ll probably need more frequent trips to the vet for vaccinations and check-ups. Kittens also generally need more attention than older cats as they love playing and exploring their new world.

If your kitten isn’t house trained yet, you’ll need to help them find the litter box for the first few days at their new home.

Kittens also require different types of food than adult cats, geared towards their growing needs. Most pet food brands distinguish between kitten and cat food, and usually, you can find kitten food at your local store.

What do senior cats need?

Older cats may need items that are suited for their age or physical fitness levels. For example, if you have adopted an older cat you may want to consider putting the litter box on the first level of your home. Going up and down stairs can be harder for older pets, so making it as easy as possible for them to go to the bathroom is a plus.

You’ll also want to check out cat food geared towards senior cats which is typically easier for them to eat and digest.

Make sure you also have plenty of comfy areas for your senior cat to sleep in, as they may not feel as comfortable on hard surfaces as younger cats.

You’ve adopted a new cat, so what’s next?

Take your list of cat essentials to your nearest store and pick up everything you need. Adopting a cat is one of the most rewarding things you can do and it’s important to have all the essentials to keep your new pet happy.


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