Whether the kids have been pestering you to get a kitten or cat or you are just looking for a companion for yourself, once you have made a decision to get your new furry friend, you will no doubt very quickly start wondering what essential items you need to get your hands on to welcome your new kitty into your home. In this post, we share a checklist of what we consider to be the ultimate guide to getting ready for a new furry friend in your life and ensuring they have a happy and healthy welcome home.
Both Mr Noggins and Mr Binkles are rescue cats and so, here at Noggins & Binkles, we are strong believers in giving cats a second chance by adopting your new furry friend from your local cat shelter or from a charity like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That is not to say that you should not buy a kitten from a breeder but we do recommend making sure that you do your research on the breeder that you are planning to use to make sure that they meet relevant requirements and animal welfare standards. You can find out more about this on the UK Government's Guidance Note.
Once you have worked out where you are going to find your new furry friend, the good news is that you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying accessories for your new kitten or cat. This guide focuses on our favourite luxury, hand crafted products which are made from vegan materials and with an emphasis on sustainability.
Collars and ID tags
The first thing that most people think about when it comes to cat accessories is a collar. At Noggins & Binkles, we make a beautiful range of 'breakway' safety cat collars using vegan alternatives to leather including 'cork' leather and Piñatex. These come in a range of colours so we are sure you will find something that looks purrfect on your furry friend. Our full range of beautiful breakaway safety cat collars can be seen here and includes collars made from cork 'leather', Piñatex and our innovative vegan alternative to leather. We also make matching cork ‘leather’ cat bow ties, and although we wouldn’t class them as essential on a new cat or kitten checklist, we couldn’t resist mentioning them as they are super cute!
Binkles wearing his Blue Vegan Cork 'Leather' Cat Bow Tie and Collar
As well as being a beautiful accessory for your cat, collars offer a number of practical benefits to help keep your cat safe. We always recommend choosing a breakaway safety collar for your cat. All Noggins & Binkles collars include a safety breakaway buckle that will release if your cat's collar gets caught on a branch or the neighbour's fence. Our collars are also fully adjustable to ensure the perfect, and safe, fit. If you are getting a kitten rather than an adult cat, we recommend that kittens are always supervised when wearing a collar because kittens are not usually heavy enough to ensure that the breakaway buckle releases if the collar gets caught. You can find out more about how to fit a cat collar, including details on how tight a cat collar should be by reading our post.
Cats are notoriously curious and independent so perhaps the most important role that a collar can play is as a means of identifying your cat in the event that he or she ever goes missing. There is nothing worse than your furry friend going for a wander and not knowing where he or she is. Our stylish range of engraved solid brass and chrome cat identification tags can be personalised to include your contact details so that anyone who finds your cat knows exactly who to contact so you can be reunited as soon as possible. You can find out more about what details to include on your cat ID tag by reading our post.
Cats are instinctive hunters and will not pass up on the opportunity to put those instincts to work when out and about in the garden. To protect our feathered friends from the clutches of an overzealous hunter, we include a solid brass cat bell on all of our beautiful collars. This will help any potential prey to know that your furry friend is on the prowl and give them a better chance of flying away safely. We have seen some reports that a bell can damage a cat's hearing but we have not seen any conclusive evidence of this and the RSPCA recommend attaching a bell to a cat's collar in a post that they wrote on cat welfare. However, we do understand that some cats may not be used to having a bell on their collar and we are more than happy to remove the bell from our collars upon request.
Leads, Leashes and Harnesses
Mr Noggins and Mr Binkles are indoor cats and currently live in an apartment which doesn't have access to a garden so for the time being they do not concern themselves with leads, leashes and harnesses. However, in their previous lives, they have both enjoyed spending time in the garden on their harnesses. Cat owners often choose to use a harness and lead or leash to provide supervised outdoor time to their furry friend if they live in a location which might present a danger to their cat, for example, if they live near a busy road. Our range of leads, leashes and harnesses are made of vegan cork 'leather' and are available in the same beautiful colours as our vegan cork 'leather' cat collars.
Binkles wearing his Mint Green Vegan Cork 'Leather' Cat Harness and Lead
Cats are playful creatures by nature and love having something to play with at home. Our luxury range of vegan, sustainable, interactive toys for cats offer something for every kitty.
Both the felt outer and the filling of our vegan felt cat toys are made of 100% post consumer plastic bottles and include a generous helping of organic catnip, which most kitties go absolutely wild for. With a design for every season, you are sure to find something that your cat loves, whether it is our cloud, lightning bolt, prawn, christmas tree or halloween ghost cat toy.
Noggins playing with his Organic Catnip Halloween Ghost Cat
Our range of sustainable cork ball toys offer hours of fun to kitties who love to chase things around the house. These come in sets of three and are available in natural, or hand painted spots and stripes and leopard print. The balls themselves are made from eco friendly vegan cork bark which has natural antibacterial qualities in addition to being water resistant. The spots and stripes and leopard print designs are hand painted using an eco-friendly vegan and natural paint made from organic linseed oil with natural plant pigments for the colour. All of our paints are non toxic and certified 'safe for toys'.
Our natural Cork Cat Ball Toys in a Stripes and Spots Design
For cats who couldn't possibly stoop to entertaining themselves, our cat teaser wand toys are the perfect choice for encouraging play between cats and their humans. These toys are perfect for entertaining and stimulating indoor cats, whilst at the same time making sure they get some exercise. Our cat teaser wand toys are handmade with a strong eco-friendly solid wood stick. The pine we use is made from sustainable sources and is certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). For cats who love a spot of fishing, our Blue Fish Cat Teaser Wand Toy really hits the spot but we also have teaser toys featuring an eco-friendly cork ball which is hand-painted and comes in blue, green or pink.
Our interactive Blue Fish Cat Teaser Wand Toy
The great thing about cats is that they love to play with everyday household items so if you don't want to buy new cat toys on day one along with all of the other things that you need to buy. Most cats will love you forever if you provide them with something as simple as an empty cardboard box. In fact, we recommend having a couple of empty boxes around the house on the day that you get your new furry friend because this will offer them a couple of places to hide and feel safe while they get used to their new, and often overwhelming, surroundings. You can find out more about why cats love playing in boxes by reading our post.
Cat Tree & Scratching Posts
It is important to try and provide your new kitten or cat with an environment which enables them to exhibit some of the same behaviours that cats would have exhibited in the wild but also that is stimulating and interesting. As we have already written in another post, cats love climbing and a dedicated cat tree provides the perfect opportunity for your cat to climb and find the best and safest vantage point they can. If your cat tree does not already incorporate scratching posts, it is well worth buying a separate scratching post to encourage your cat to avoid scratching the furniture. Scratching is a completely normal cat behaviour so you should provide your cat with opportunity to have a good scratch. In our experience, the most effective scratching posts are those which allow your cat to stretch to their full height.
Binkles enjoying their cat tree with scratching post
Cats are notorious at being able to fall asleep anywhere and often opt to curl up on something as simple as a piece of paper that has fallen on the floor right next to their brand new bed. However, that doesn't mean that they would not appreciate a comfortable bed in a quiet place that they can retreat to when it all gets too much. Our luxury cat beds are made with eco-friendly organic cotton upholstery fabric and feature fully removable and washable covers. The comfy inner cushions are also made with organic cotton and are generously filled with polyester fibre made from recycled PET bottles.
Noggins on his Luxury Organic Cotton Cat Bed
Litter & Litter Trays
When it comes to choosing cat litter, the possibilities really are endless and your choice will be driven by what your cat likes as much as by your own preferences. The starting point when trying to identify the best litter for cats is to know that there are three broad categories of cat litter; clumping, non-clumping and silica. A clumping cat litter is one which absorbs liquid well and forms hard clumps when it gets wet. This makes it easy to identify and remove litter that has come into contact with fluids, leaving behind clean litter. Generally a non-clumping litter is made of small pellets of compressed sawdust or recycled newspaper and will need to be completely replaced more regularly than a clumping litter, which can be topped up as and when required. Silica or 'crystal' litter is a more recent addition to the litter world and, because of its excellent absorption properties, is able to very effectively eliminate odours by 'locking' moisture and odour within the crystals.
Mr Noggins and Mr Binkles have tried a very large number of litters across the full range of clumping, non-clumping and silica options. Whilst it is very much a personal preference, the humans at Noggins & Binkles favour an eco-friendly clumping litter made of a natural vegetable material such as corn or cassava. Particular brands that Mr Noggins and Mr Binkles have tested and enjoy using are Super Benek Corn Cat Natural Clumping Litter which is made from 100% natural plant-based material without chemical additives and Almo Nature Cat Litter which is an all-natural, biodegradable, compostable, and flushable cat litter which is also made from vegetable fibres. We think that the Almo Nature litter clumps slightly more effectively than the Super Benek litter but tends to track slightly more throughout the house so it really is a matter of personal choice.
Although Mr Noggins and Mr Binkles have not yet tried Natusan's litter, we think that it is something to consider when looking at litter options, particularly if you have an eye on the environment. In addition to being able to buy Natusan's 100% natural, biodegradable and compostable clumping litter from the Natusan shop, customers in London can take advantage of their innovative zero waste "Collect & Compost" subscription service. With the subscription service, Natusan will deliver their litter to your home (there is even an option to receive a leak-proof recycled cardboard tray, a scoop and biodegradable bags), collect it from you after a month, compost it and turn it into fertiliser. Natusan work with 'Trees for Cities' to plant a tree in London on your behalf.
Once you have identified a litter, you need to think about a suitable litter tray. Again, this is very much a personal choice for your cats but after trying many "standard" cat litter trays, Mr Noggins and Mr Binkles finally settled on a large shallow storage box in the shape of a litter tray. We find that having something larger than a normal litter tray works for two cats and reduces the amount of litter that ends up getting kicked out of the tray and tracked around the house. If you have more than one cat, it is recommended that you have at least a litter tray for each cat, however, we tried this with Mr Noggins and Mr Binkles and they both used both trays, so we opted for one tray that is larger than two normal sized cat litter trays. For the very discerning cat owner, there is a comprehensive range of self-cleaning robot litter trays that require very little human interaction but we will save those for another post!
Food & Bowls
All of the products that we make at Noggins & Binkles focus on using vegan materials with an emphasis on being as sustainable and environmentally conscious as they can be. When it comes to feeding your cat, the priority should be on ensuring that your cat gets all of the nutrients they require to optimise their health. We encourage all cat owners to buy the best quality cat food that they can afford because, just like humans, the quality of a cat's diet will have a direct impact on your furry friend's health and wellbeing. More details about whether you can feed your cat a vegan diet can be found in our separate post.
Once you know what kind of food you want your cat to eat, you need to make sure that you have the right bowl on hand to serve their food in. As with many cat accessories, there is an overwhelming range of cat bowls available on the market but our preference at Noggins & Binkles is a simple dishwasher safe porcelain, ceramic or glass bowl. Porcelain, ceramic and glass bowls offer greater protection from bacteria which can build up in micro-scratches in the surface of wooden or plastic bowls and are also more likely to be able to withstand the higher temperature wash cycles of your dishwasher, ensuring that your furry friend only eats what you want him or her to eat without needing to worry about any hidden nasties lurking in the surface of their bowl.
Choosing a Vet
All responsible pet owners will see the health of their furry friend as their top priority and there are a few things that you should look into prior to getting your new cat that will help you to ensure that they stay healthy.
The first thing to do is to identify a suitable vet that you can take your cat to for their regular check-ups and treatments but also if they fall ill or are injured. There are a number of factors to think about when choosing a suitable vet. Nothing quite compares to getting recommendations from friends and family who are already pet owners. They will be able to share real life experiences of a particular vet practice. If you are not able to get recommendations from friends and family, you can also look to see whether your local vet practice has any reviews online. Remember that reviews will be subjective, but if a vet practice has a large number of reviews, you should be able to get a good sense of other people's experience. It is also always worth visiting local vet practices in person so that you can get a better understanding of the services and facilities that they offer, the cleanliness of the place, operating hours, whether they are available out of hours in an emergency and how friendly the staff are.
There is no hiding from the fact that vet bills can be expensive and you should take this into account when you are looking at the overall cost of getting a new kitten or cat. We recommend considering pet insurance as a way of keeping any potential vet bills manageable and within budget but make sure you do your research to properly understand what is included in any insurance policy you are considering and, more importantly, what is not.
As a final thought on health, getting your home ready for your new furry friend to arrive isn't just about buying lots of new things. You also need to see whether any adjustments need to be made to your home to ensure that it does not present any unwanted hazards to your cat. One of the first things to think about is whether the house plants that you have are safe for cats. You can find more information about which plants are safe for cats in another post that we wrote on this subject.
We hope this checklist has been helpful and will prepare you for welcoming home your new cat or kitten!
- Collars and ID tags
- Leads, Leashes and Harnesses
- Cat Tree & Scratching Posts
- Litter & Litter Trays
- Food & Bowls
- Choosing a Vet