Cat Adoption Checklist – 8 Essential Supplies for Your New Cat | Lola The Rescued Cat
Monday, June 7, 2021

Cat Adoption Checklist – 8 Essential Supplies for Your New Cat

Welcome back to our Adopt-A-Cat Month series. Adoptive cat parents need to make sure they have everything ready for their new furry family member so the transition from shelter to home is smooth. If you're celebrating Adopt-A-Cat Month by adding a four-legged member to your family, we have a checklist with eight essential supplies you'll need for them. 

Black and white cat on a scratcher lounger

Cat Adoption Checklist - 8 Essential Supplies for Your New Cat

Note: Lola The Rescued Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

1. Carrier and Travel Items

The first thing you need is a good carrier to transport your new family member home in. The carrier will also ensure your cat travels safely whenever they leave the house in the future. A carrier should be sturdy, have plenty of ventilation, and provide easy access so you can get your cat in and out without difficulty. Two of my favorites are the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed and the Cabrio Multi-Functional Carrier by Catit. (You can read my in-depth reviews of the Sleepypod and the Cabrio for more information on each.) 

Tabby cat in a carrier

A break-away collar with an ID tag provides some added protection in the event your cat gets out of the carrier when you are traveling. My favorite collars are by Sweet Pickles Designs. Their Feline CEO, Pickles, named a collar after Lola, aptly named The Lola. For additional safety, make sure your cat is microchipped and the registration is up to date.

2. Food

There are hundreds of options of cat food on the market you can choose from. But when first bringing your cat home, ask the rescue or shelter what food they are currently eating and stock up on that. Cats need some time to decompress and acclimate to their new surroundings after being adopted, and eating familiar food eliminates a stressor for them (as well as gastrointestinal issues.) After your cat has settled into its new home and family life, you can have a discussion with your vet about what food is best for them.

Black and white cat with fancy feast medleys

3. Food and Water Dishes/Fountains

Stainless steel and ceramic are the best choices for food and water dishes. Plastic dishes can be very pretty, but they can harbor bacteria that can cause feline acne (black, itchy scabs on the chin.) The PetFusion Premium Brushed Stainless Steel Cat Bowl and the Dr. Catsby Whisker Relief Bowl are two quality, high-rated stainless steel bowls. The PetRageous Oval Frisky Kitty Stoneware Cat Bowl is a cute ceramic option.

Many cats prefer running water, so a fountain is a good option. Two of my favorites are the Pioneer Pet Raindrop Fountain and the Petlibro Automatic Pet Water Fountain.

black and white cat drinking from a fountain

4. Litter Accessories

The litter box is a top priority. Two boxes are ideal but if you only have room for one box, get the largest one that will fit your home so your cat has plenty of room to turn around dig in. One of my favorite litter boxes is Betterbox by PetFusion. The Quick Scoop, also by PetFusion, is a quality scoop that will last a long time. Other good options are the Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan and the Petmate Giant Litter Box.  (I created a litter box privacy area with PetFusion products, which you can read about here.)

black and white cat with petfusion litter accessories

Some cats are very particular about their litter, and a sudden change can cause litter box issues. When Lexy first came home I did a litter switch too quickly, and rather than urinating inappropriately throughout the house, she just held it in. I felt horrible!  Ask the shelter or rescue what type of litter they are using and purchase that. If you feel you need to make a change, do a gradual transition to the new litter.

5. Beds

Cats love comfy places to nap in. While your cat may take a snooze on your furniture or your bed, it’s nice for them to have their own personal space dedicated to just them. If they don’t take to their new bed right away, just give it some time. You can also try moving it to a different location (maybe a quieter area or a nice sunny spot.)

Lexy absolutely adores her MYLAP Pet Bed, which you can read all about here. f you’re adopting an older pet, there are very nice heated beds available to keep them comfortable. (Note: heating pads are not recommended because they can become too hot too quickly resulting in your cat getting burned.)

black and white cat on MYLAP pet bed

6. Scratching Posts

Cats need to scratch, and cat parents need to make sure they offer proper scratching areas. Scratching posts come in different textures including sisal, carpet, and cardboard. Every cat has their own preference and it may take some trial and error before you find your cat’s favorite.

There are also different scratching orientations. Some cats prefer a vertical scratching surface, and some like a horizontal scratching surface better.

Lola and Lexy prefer sisal and cardboard. Lexy is more of a vertical scratcher and Lola prefers a horizontal surface (although she is exploring the vertical scratcher more frequently.) The MaxScratch Cat Scratching Post & Perch is a large sisal scratcher that is a big hit with my girls. The Jackson Galaxy Constellation Scratcher is a cardboard scratcher that gets so much use I’ve had to replace it. 

Tabby cat on MaxScratch scratcher

7. Cat Trees

Cats love vertical space. Many feel secure when they are in their vertical territory watching what’s going on below. When choosing a cat tree, make sure it’s heavy enough and sturdy so it doesn’t topple over when your cat runs and jumps on it.

cats on contempo cat cat tree

A good place for your cat’s tree is in front of a window, so they can birdwatch, listen to the sounds outdoors, nap in a sun puddle, or enjoy the breeze if the window is open.

8. Toys

No matter what age your new cat is, toys are critically important. They prevent boredom, provide stimulation and enrichment, and help you bond with them. Even indoor cats must fulfill their natural instinct to hunt, and toys can help satisfy this need.

tabby cat
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Toys made from feathers and fur that can be easily tossed into the air or pounced on are just like prey to your cat. Large, soft toys that can be raked and bitten also satisfy a cat’s predatory play needs.

You can read this post for budget-friendly DIY toy ideas.

Other Important Things

Identifying a veterinarian you will be using ahead of time and having their contact information handy will be helpful in a medical emergency. You may also want to find the nearest emergency vet as well. A helpful number to have is the Animal Poison Control, run by the ASPCA (888) 426-4435.

cat adoption checklist

Print our cat adoption checklist (seen above) for easy reference. 

Make sure to catch up on our previous post in this series, five things to consider before adopting a cat. And stay tuned for the next installment to learn some tips on how to adopt a cat from a shelter. 

Are you planning on adopting a cat this month? Tell us about it in the comments. 

About the Author:
Dawn White is an award-winning writer/blogger and the author of Lola: Diary of a Rescued Cat.  Dawn has been writing in the pet industry for over seven years and has been a contributing writer for the Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive Pro Program, BlogPaws, and

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  1. Thank you Dawn. I wish I had known all of these things back when I first started adopting cats. Seriously. I mad mistakes, and didn't know it then.

  2. Great list. I want a Sleepypod for my cats, someday. XO

  3. Such a good list, all important things too!

  4. A comprehensive list of important tips, thank you!

  5. Looks like a good list--we have them all!

  6. L & L;

    noe collarz for uz; we like ta round a round nood :)


    1. oopz R furst spellin errorz oh de yeer ...that shuld bee RUN a round nood :)

  7. Lots of good advice. We had to screw the biggest cat tree to the wall with a bracket. It was stable for normal use but Eric was so hefty that when he jumped up it wobbled.

  8. Definitely a great...and complete...list!

  9. You've certainly got it covered! Hope lots of kitties get adopted this month :)

  10. Awesome list. I've learned so much over the years about what cats need and you mentioned them all.

  11. I love this! You've created such a valuable resource for new cat owners.

  12. Yes, indeed! That is a great list of stuff every new cat home should have. :)

  13. Looks like you got just about everything covered in this very helpful list for potential adopters. Wonderful post!

  14. I'd add patience, and a sense of humor!

  15. Great post and so important for new cat owners to know to make the transition easier for everyone and wish I had known more when I rescued my cats all those years ago.

  16. You have some great suggestions here. Cat trees are an important tool as well if you live in a multi-species household. While our cats and dogs love each other, sometimes they need to create space. For example, if the dogs are wrestling, the cats love being able to lay on their cat tree up and out of their reach lol

  17. People may not realise there are important 'must have's for new cat owners!

    One of the most important ones for us is cat trees. We have lots of windows and the cats LOVE watching bird TV!

  18. Good intentions are certainly a great start but knowing what adoption entails and how to make things go smoothly is essential.

  19. What a helpful checklist! For those of us that are looking to adopt again, this is great. I appreciate the printable too. The first step in a lifetime commitment. Sharing!

  20. Excellent recommendations. It's so important to have theses items ready prior to bringing your new cat home.


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