Essential equipment for every cat owner

There are a few essentials that should be in place before a new cat arrives. Once you get to know your pet’s preferences and personality, you can choose more particular items and equipment.

Comfort first

Cats are good at making themselves comfortable and have an unerring eye for the best places to curl up in and snooze. They are more than willing to share your favorite armchair or cushions, or the comforter on your bed, if that is permitted. Most people delight in seeing their cat make free use of the home—and will be prepared to forgive the nest made in a pile of newly laundered towels. However, cats do need a safe and special bed that is indisputably their own.

There is a wide range of cat beds on the market, from baskets and roofed-in tent-style beds to bean bags and hammocks. From an owner’s point of view, whether the bed looks attractive and is easy to wash may be priorities. From your cat’s point of view, soft fabrics that generate warmth—such asfleece—are desirable, as are beds with soft sides to snuggle up against.

You can always add a folded blanket or a cushion for extra padding.

Do not buy your cat the equivalent of a king-sized bed under the impression that he will enjoy stretching out in it. Cats usually prefer to sleep somewhere fairly compact that gives them a sense of wrap-around security

Food and water bowls

Your cat needs separate bowls for food and water, and if you have more than one cat each should have his own set. Bowls can be either plastic or metal and should have a wide base that prevents them from being tipped over.

Buy bowls that are shallowsided and fairly wide—cats do not like having their whiskers cramped while they are eating or drinking. If you are out of the house for long periods, it may be worth buying an automatic feeder.

Such feeders have a lid to prevent the food from going stale and are set with a timer to pop open at your cat’s regular mealtime

Cat carriers

Even if you borrow a carrier just to bring a new cat home, it is wise to invest in one of your own. There are bound to be times when you will need to transport your cat safely for trips to the vet, or maybe to a cattery when you go on vacation. If your cat gets used to the look and smell of his carrier, he is less likely to be stressed when a trip becomes necessary. Let him climb in and out of it at home, and he will soon regard it as part of his personal territory. Cat carriers are made of various materials, including basketwork, rigid plastic, coated wire, and soft fabrics. Most cats object to being confined, so it is important to choose a carrier with a wide grid opening that lets your cat see out and allows you to communicate with him.

Many carriers are made in two halves, so that the top half can be unclipped and taken off and your pet easily lifted in and out. Make sure that the carrier gives your cat enough room to turn around. Line the bottom with one of his old blankets to provide a familiar smell.

Soft-sided carriers, in the style of totebags, are the easiest to carry and most comfortable for your cat. However, they can be tricky to clean and may provide less ventilation than rigid carriers.

The most economical option is a cardboard carrier, but this type may not withstand assault from a cat determined to claw his way out Cylinder tag and is best used as a temporary measure for short trips.

Something to play with

Cat toys perhaps cannot be counted as essential equipment, but most owners find them impossible to resist.

They are an amusing way of keeping an indoor pet physically and mentally fit. Cats have a natural sense of fun and even mature, sedentary cats can be persuaded to play for a few moments. Swiping at a feather on a wire or ripping up a catnip mouse is good exercise—although your cat will be just as happy with scrumpled newspaper or a cardboard box


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