19 things that make life easier with a new kitten
Keep your little kitty safe and happy with these purrfect picks.
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There is nothing in life that gives me greater joy than my cats. When I'm feeling stressed, tired, or isolated, it's comforting to share a home with two sweet kitties who are more than happy to climb onto my chest and purr my troubles away.
I adopted both my cats as kittens, a process that was exciting ... and a little terrifying. Before my Instagram could be dominated by exquisitely framed kitten pictures, I had to make sure I was giving my cats the best, safest, most loving and fun home I could possibly provide.
If you’re in that position now—congratulations! Bringing a kitten into your life will shake things up, and you should prepare for your heart to expand several times while you watch them grow. But if you aren't sure how to turn your home into a kitten's paradise, we've rounded up everything you need from pet supply retailer Chewy to make your space safe and welcoming for the furry new addition.
1. A water dish that you can set and forget
This automatically refilling water dish was one of the first upgrades I made to my kitties's space, and its not one I'll ever regret. Cat water dishes tend to get gross pretty quickly—I’m talking about spills all over the floor, and pieces of kibble drowned in the bowl. For me, this water bowl was a game changer. The dish's sturdy design discourages cats from dragging it across the floor or flipping it over, and its ability to automatically refill keeps water fresh for longer.
The three gallon tank is easy to fill and the cap does not leak much when turned over," writes a reviewer. "With no ring around the top where the tank goes it is easy to clean. I am very happy."
You’ll still want to keep your eye on the water supply, as you don’t want your kitten stuck drinking filmy old water. Especially for active young kittens, though, it's reassuring to know there's no chance they might spill their water when no one's around to refill their bowl. Wish you didn't have to worry about dinnertime, either? It might be time to check out our favorite automatic pet feeder.
2. A carrier your kitten won’t hate
Most cats like their space and independence. Depending on your kitty’s personality, they might be pretty resistant to getting into a crate or carrier bag—but if you ever want to bring him to the vet, that’s pretty much mandatory. You can make this process a lot less painful by getting them used to the carrier while they're still a kitten, and showing them that it’s nothing to be scared of. A soft, breathable carrier like this one both saves storage space, and tends to be more comfortable for its little passenger. Plus, it's airplane-safe and machine washable. We loved testing the Sherpa carrier, and although we found it wasn't ideal for small dogs, it's all you need for your new kitty.
According to buyer Ebeer, one of these carriers in size medium comfortably fits two kittens, but you may want to upgrade to a large as they grow. Ebeer likes that these carriers “are softer and therefore cozier to lay against on the sides; have entry from the top and front; have pockets for me to put vet paperwork/meds into; have a strap I can run a seatbelt through to secure them to the car; have two carrying options (shoulder strap and handles - handy when I need to take both cats at once)."
3. A cat tree to give them an alternative to the kitchen counter
Cats are hard-wired to look for high places where they can lounge...which can mean dragging their litter-covered paws all over your countertop while you try to make dinner. You might be tempted to spray them with water to discourage that behavior, but that’s a losing battle. Most cats don’t respond well to punishment, and will likely hop right back onto the counter when your back is turned. A far better solution is to offer your kitten an alternative place to climb.
A strong cat tree, like this one from the brand Frisco, offers a safe place for your kitties to climb, play, and scratch without ruining furniture. Reviewer Destiny writes, "It’s super sturdy. It came with a wall mount I won’t be using, but it’s great for the people that would like to make it even sturdier!"
4. An engaging toy they can actually play with by themselves
I got to see both my cats in the peak of their wild baby energy. From this, I learned that kittens need a lot of attention and time for play—and it’s great if you can carve out the minutes or hours to run around the house with them. There are, however, always going to be times when your kitty is ready to play, and you just aren’t (in my case, this usually occurs between 2 and 6 a.m.). During these times, you'll thank yourself for investing in an interactive toy.
Every cat has their own taste, so it might take some trial and error to figure out what type of toy keeps your kitty entertained. My cats love chasing balls around on tracks, and this multi-track toy offers plenty to keep them engaged. SpookyFox writes that their cat usually resists independent play, but this toy was an exception. "I wish all toys could engage him like this one does!” they write. “I don't know what it is about this toy that piques his interest, but I'm glad I gave this one a try. If your cat is like mine and doesn't want to do anything unless you're involved, try this toy with them to help encourage them to do something independent from you."
And because one toy is never enough, be sure to check out some of our editors' all-time faves for cats and dogs.
5. A kitten harness, to let your indoor kitten explore the outdoors
Plenty of cats live their lives without ever using a leash or harness, and that’s totally fine. Depending on where you live, and how patient or impatient your cat is, it might be a totally impractical thing to even try. But if you think you ever might use a cat harness, you can save yourself a massive headache in the future by introducing your kitten to the idea now. An adjustable bungee leash like this one is a great place to start.
For reviewers like Whiskey, this harness is completely worth it. "My cat really wants to be outside so taking him out once a day helps keep him happy,” Whiskey writes. “I really like the bungee style leash if he decides to leap forward. Be patient in getting your cat used to being on a leash—they are taking you for a walk, not the other way around. After a week of daily trips it works great—he comes running to me when I pick up the leash!"
6. A litter box that will discourage litter from spreading
I’m on my third generation of litter boxes. That’s not because my old litter boxes broke, or got too small—it’s just because my cats love to kick their litter around, and most boxes weren’t up to the task of containing them. I finally found a solution with these unobtrusive top-entry boxes. Now, when my cats decide to toss litter around like confetti, it hits a wall instead of landing under the sink. I love being able to scoop from the top, instead of digging around the back of a dark litter box.
Reviewer Meatball had a similar experience, writing that this litter box “significantly reduced the amount of litter we find outside of the litter box, and the removable top means the box is easy to clean. There is no scoop hook included, like in some the product photos, but the scoop hangs off the edge of the box with no issue."
7. A water-free cleanser to keep kitty’s coat gleaming
The idea of trying to give my cats a bath, in the traditional sense, is laughable. It simply will not happen, no matter how stinky they get in the course of their various misadventures. Cats are pretty hygienic by nature—but every now and then, a little extra grooming is in order. That’s when I pull out Burt’s Bees water-free cleanser.
This cleanser comes out as a light foam, making it an easier sell than soap and water. It has a pleasant, mild smell, and leaves my cats looking shiny and proud. Buyer Cleo writes that after trying to brush out her senior cat’s coat, this cleanser “literally transformed her! She doesn’t look her age to begin with—but now? Looks half her age! We’ve tried other products and they made her smell like a walking car deodorizer—this is all natural and no heavy scent!”
8. A comfy bed so your cat has somewhere safe to rest their head
Nowadays, my cats’ favorite place to sleep is in the middle of my chest (usually while I’m trying to work), but that wasn’t always the case. When I first adopted my sweet boy, he was so nervous he slept under my bed for a week. Even now, as a cuddler, he likes to have his own space. You can help your kitten adjust to life in a new space by offering them a safe bed that’s all their own.
This cat bed is appealingly soft and subtle—a win-win for cats looking for a cozy place to doze, and people who aren’t crazy about the appearance of more obvious pet furniture. “It doesn't look like a cat pad, so my accent chair doesn't look like it's cat territory," writes reviewer CHcat. "My cats love it and I love that I can move it and sit down without getting cat fur all over my clothes. It's soft and cozy. Glad I bought one for each cat!"
9. Tasty treats to reward good behavior and keep breath fresh
It’s a good idea to have treats on hand to help redirect your kitty’s attention and reward their good behavior. That’s not all Greenies treats can do, though—these fan favorites also clean your kitty’s teeth and freshen their breath, saving you both from the trauma of a toothbrushing session. (If only human treats helped stave off dentist appointments.)
My cats love these treats, to the point that I’ve had to invest in a better storage solution to keep them from finishing the package on their own. “I bought a package of this brand to try out with one of my cats who has a thyroid condition and really bad breath,” writes reviewer Hasmadmarp. “They really seemed to help with her breath so I started using them with my other cat with the same problem and also bought the biggest container I could find. Now all three get their teeth done every morning along with their stomach treats and plain treats for just being my companions.”
10. Healthy food that’s just right for your cat
Picking out the right diet for your kitten is an individual process, determined by their taste, your preferences, and any health conditions they might have. There's a lot to consider, and we recommend talking to your veterinarian before switching your kitty’s food. But many cat lovers claim that any wet food is better than any dry food, as the extra moisture can aid digestion and prevent issues like urinary tract infections.
If you’re looking for some basic canned food to make sure your cat is getting enough hydration in their diet, this combo pack might be what you need to figure out their personal taste. Reviewer ExcellentValue writes that their kitty “loves the Friskies! It comes in a 32 portion pack and is more food than she usually eats, so I get 2 portions per can! 1 order will last 60 days and I'm THRILLED!"
11. A custom ID tag, just to be safe
Even if your kitty lives strictly indoors, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should forgo an ID tag. It’s possible for both indoor and outdoor cats to slip away and get lost—kittens in particular are great at darting under legs undetected and running for the hills. With this super cute and cheap ID tag, you can insure that if your kitty ever does find themselves wandering through the neighborhood, whoever finds them will know who to call. For cats that aren’t microchipped, that extra security is priceless.
Reviewer Looper loves the tags, writing that they’re "really cute, and make me feel safer knowing my phone number is on each of my cats. The engraving is not scratched on like some other tags. This engraving is deeply etched and easy to read."
12. An odor eliminator, because nobody’s perfect
During kittenhood, a few messes are inevitable. Most cats learn to use the litter box from their mother, and if you’re lucky, you’ll never have any toilet training issues. Even if that’s the case, you can expect to clean up at least a few hairballs, and no one wants to live with the lingering scent of a pet’s mess.
This odor remover is great one two fronts. First of all, it stops you from smelling nasty scents whenever you walk in the door. Secondly, and even more importantly, it stops your cat from sniffing out past messes. If your kitten does have some litter training mistakes, the smell might confuse him in the long run—is this where he’s supposed to pee? Removing odors right away will help you both.
Fans of Nature’s Miracle appreciate that this odor remover does its job without leaving behind a strong scent of its own. Some people found the spray nozzle to be tricky, but one reviewer says they fixed spray issues by unscrewing the top just a little, and letting some air into the bottle. "Nature's Miracle is our "go-to" brand for pet stain issues," writes reviewer Mom2many. "We have tried several others and found their brand to be there most successful in removing odor and stains."
13. A bowl that won't let food get all over the floor
In case it isn’t already obvious, my cats can be two messy little gremlins when they want to be. It’s pretty pointless to tell a kitten not to play with their food, but there’s one thing you can do—make sure the bottom of their food bowl is non-skid, so they can’t drag it all over the kitchen floor. This cute ceramic food bowl comes with a silicone rim around the bottom, which means looks great and actually stays in place. If you’ve ever been greeted by cat food or water strewn across the floor, you’ll appreciate what a difference non-skid materials can make.
"My youngest cat loves to move the water bowl everywhere to make a huge mess, then gets mad when there’s no water," writes reviewer Feathers. "I was trying everything to keep the water bowl in place. Saw this, so thought why not give it a go. So far no water spilled!”
14. Nail clippers to keep her paws looking sharp (but not too sharp)
Clipping my kitties’s nails was one part of cat parenthood I was not looking forward to. I got lucky, though—both of my cats are surprisingly patient when it comes to getting their mani-pedis. There are all kinds of nail grinders on the market, but I’ve found that a simple clipper does the trick to carefully groom my babies’ paws.
These little clippers from Four Paws are sharp enough to make the process quick and painless, and small enough to trim with precision (you don’t want to cut too much and accidentally hurt your cat). These trimmers “do exactly what they're supposed to and feel study," writes reviewer Katie. "They don't feel cheap at all, which surprised me considering how little they cost.”
15. A soft brush to handle even the toughest snarls
If you find yourself petting your kitty and coming back with a handful of fur, that’s a sign it’s time to get a decent cat brush. Combine brushing with a general petting session and some tasty cat treats, and you’ll be able to make grooming into something you and your cat both enjoy. You can invest in one of our favorite vacuums for pet hair, but frequent brushings will also go a long way.
This Safari brush features long, soft bristles that reach to your cat’s undercoat—that’s the layer of fur where all those fine, shedding hairs come from. Even better, this brush has a handy cleaning mechanism that’ll save you from digging fur out from between the bristles. These bristles are also retractable, making the brush ultra convenient to clear and clean. "This brush gets a lot of fur off of [my cat] and is sooo easy to clean," writes reviewer Msmw. "I love the push button that retracts the bristles so that the fur slides right off. Both my furbaby and I are very happy with this purchase."
16. A scratching post so your cat will leave your couch alone
Getting your cat a scratching post is a lot like getting them a cat tree: you’re not going to convince them not to scratch or not to climb, but you can give them a place all his own to satisfy the impulse. This scratching post is sturdy enough to survive daily use, and it’s tall enough to let your cat get a good stretch. For most people, this is better than that sacrificing your chair, or (if you’re me and your cats think that your legs make excellent scratching posts) your jeans.
Reviewer Jessica writes that assembly was quick and easy, and adds, “This scratching post is visually appealing, sturdy enough to not topple over and includes a fun perch up top.”
17. A litter mat to prevent mess and frustration
When it comes to preventing litter from getting everywhere, a textured litter mat is one of the MVPs. These mats capture litter stuck on your kitty’s paws, so it doesn’t get tracked around the house. I’ve been a huge fan of textured litter mats since I first adopted my cats, but this mat brings it to a new level. Not only does it catch litter, it also features a unique dual-layer design that makes it easier to clean. Instead of shaking litter from the mat (a process that can squick a lot of people out), you can just remove the top layer, and dump the residue collected at the bottom.
Reviewer CDCatLover loves this feature, noting that this mat is much easier to clean than options with a tighter rubber weave. “This one, you simply pick it up and you can empty it back into the litter box," CDCatLover writes. "The holes are big enough to capture the litter, but not so small to trap the litter."
18. Food storage to keep you kitty’s meals fresh
It only took a few weeks of keeping my cat food in a big open bag before I realized that setup was not going to work for me. It was way too easy to spill dry food all over the floor—and, on top of that, I had heard horror stories about poorly stored cat food molding in the center. Investing in some airtight storage containers took care of both these concerns.
I love that this set comes with two layers of storage. You can use them to store other pet supplies, or to keep different kinds of food separate. This is helpful if one of your kitties is on a special diet, or if you’re feeding both kittens and adult cats. "Bought this container to hold cat litter and cat accessories like brushes, pill pockets, extra toys for wands, and pill shooters," writes reviewer CrimsonKitten. "Holds a 26 pound bag of walnut litter with no problems. Love that I can wheel it out of the way when I need to clean the floor or move to a new location."
19. The Litter Genie to seal off unsavory scents
I’ve gone through a lot of my favorite products for keeping kitties happy, healthy, and clean—but if I could only recommend one item, it would be the Litter Genie. I’ve rarely had a more satisfying experience with a product completely solving an everyday problem. The idea behind the Litter Genie is simple, but brilliant: it holds a refillable tube of plastic bags inside an inconspicuous pail, sealing off the bag with an external and an internal door. After you’ve dumped litter in the Genie, the two doors keep the smell from wafting through your house. You don’t have to take the litter out of the house every time you clean the box, and you don’t have to see or smell a bag full of cat pee. It is a small miracle that makes my life better every day. If you love your kitten but hate dealing with litter, this is the one item you need.
With my two smallish cats, my Litter Genie fills up about once a week, meaning I can empty it each week on garbage day. "I empty the bag and tie off a new one about every week or week and a half, and then use a new bag refill pack about every 6 months," writes GusTheChonksMom. "Contains the smell amazing! Guests can’t believe that there is a bag of cat poo sitting in the corner! Worth it money-wise and better for the environment rather than using a plastic grocery bag for daily cleaning."
Still sounds like too much? You might prefer a self-cleaning litter box.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.