Kitty-Proofing Your Home
Shopping for Your Cat
If you shop before your new feline friend's homecoming, you'll be able to spend the first few days getting to know each other instead of running off to the pet supply store. Here's a basic list for your shopping trip:
- Cat carrier. Many people get cat carriers (or crates) for their cats. When you need to take kitty somewhere, he'll be much safer traveling in a carrier than loose in a car or held in someone's arms. Plastic airline-approved crates offer the best protection in an accident. Carriers cost about $18 to $45 new and are available from pet supply stores, discount stores, and online. Unless you're willing to buy a larger carrier later, buy one that will accommodate the adult cat your kitten will become. You might want to pad the bottom of the carrier. Some people use towels, but be cautious—tiny claws can easily snag on terry cloth, and kittens and cats sometimes swallow loose strings, which can lead to serious problems. Special pads are available for carriers, or a small, tightly woven blanket might work.
- Collar. An adjustable flat nylon collar with a safety quick-release closure works well for a most cats. The safety release will open if the collar becomes caught—a feature that has saved more than one high-climbing feline from being hanged. Nylon collars come in a rainbow of colors and are inexpensive. Check the fit often, and readjust or replace the collar when your kitten outgrows it.
- Name tag or microchip. Provide your cat with an identification tag with your telephone number in case he gets lost. For more permanent identification, consider a microchip.
- Grooming supplies. The supplies you need will depend on the type of coat your cat has. (For more details, see Keeping Up with Your Cat's Hygiene.)
- Safe toys. Now we get to the fun shopping—toys! Choose good-quality toys, and throw them away when they develop sharp points or break. Plastic eyes, loose strings, and synthetic stuffing can injure or even kill your kitty if they're swallowed. Select toys in sizes appropriate to your cat so he can't swallow them. If you're not sure if a toy is safe, ask your veterinarian.
- Scratching post. A scratching post is essential not only to save your furniture, but to satisfy your cat's natural urge to scratch.
- Food. Commercial cat food ranges from cheap to very pricey, from questionably nutritious to superbly healthful. It's not necessary to feed your kitty the most expensive food available, but he will be healthier and you'll save on vet bills if you feed a good-quality food (see Feeding Your Cat).
- Treats. You may want some special treats, too, but please don't get carried away! Too many goodies will throw your kitty's nutrition out of balance and make yours a fat cat. Buy healthful treats, and hand them out sparingly. Avoid foods and treats full of dyes—color doesn't matter to your cat.
- Food and water bowls. Food and water bowls come in a vast assortment. Some cats are allergic to chemicals in plastic, so keep that in mind if your cat has a problem you can't identify. Be aware, too, that ceramic bowls made outside the United States might contain lead and other toxins that can leach into food and water.
- Litter box (or two) and litter. The options for kitty commodes are astonishing, from inexpensive simple flat litter pans to fancy self-cleaning systems with just-as-fancy prices. Litter, too, comes in a wide range of materials and prices. Often, simple is better. For more information.
More on: Pets
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Cat http://life.familyeducation.com/cats/health/45708.html 2005 by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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