Beyond the basics for indoor cat care, there are several other essential and nice-to-have items to provide a safe and engaging home environment. These are some of my favorite picks for our newly adopted kittens.
If you want a good pet bed, consider making one from an old sweater using these instructions.
Cat Essentials & Wish List Items
While I’m not one for going overboard with cat accessories, I do feel responsible for providing a safe, engaging, and entertaining environment for our indoor cats.
The basic essentials for cats are pretty much what humans need too: food and water, a litter box, a scratching post, sleep, play (exercise), love, companionship, and security.
They will also need ongoing veterinary care for ID chips, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, nail trimming (if you can’t do it yourself), and health check-ups.
With those things covered, I thought it would be fun to go over some other essentials and nice-to-have items.
1Cat Tree or Tower
Cat towers and trees like the beautiful one pictured above are definitely what I would rank as luxury items. Unless you can make one yourself at a fraction of the cost, it’s a big purchase for the home.
And, even if it’s in the budget, the hesitation in buying one is: will the cat use it?
Some cats are real climbers and jumpers—these also tend to be the same cats who are ‘shoulder cats’—the ones that would spend the day sitting around your neck and shoulders if they could.
Our former shoulder cat Ruby (an amazing jumper) would have loved a tower like this. Her sister cat was more of a ground snoozer and probably would have never tried it.
But we’re here to dream a little and the cat tree shown here by MauStore on Etsy is very nice.
Cat Tree Buying Check List
If you’re thinking of getting one, besides the personality test to feel confident your cat will use it, there are a few other things to check before you buy:
- How big is the unit (height, width, depth)? Is it as large as it looks in the photo? Are the sleeping surfaces actually big enough for your cat to comfortably curl up?
- Be sure the tower is really sturdy so the cat feels safe jumping on and off. I would ask the seller directly and check the product reviews.
- Check if the design is functional: if you were a cat, could you jump from A to B to C? I see a lot of these towers are so poorly thought out that entire sections would never be accessible.
- Is assembly required? If so, any special tools required?
- Are the sleeping areas washable? Do they have removable cushions or can you add some?
- Are the materials safe for you and the cat? Can the cat safely claw it without catching or injuring their nails? Sisal fabric as opposed to sisal rope is considered the better option.
If I had the cat tree in the photo and my cats didn’t use the sleep areas, I’d use it as a houseplant holder!
Other Fun Cat Accessories
While most of us while rarely use pet carriers and may just borrow one as needed for vet appointments, I consider it an essential item to have in your home.
Why? In case of emergency, either because you have to unexpectedly flee your home or the cat is suddenly ill.
I keep ours out all the time where our cats can play in it and receive their treats in it so they have a positive association with it.
This will help should we ever have to grab them and go.
It’s also smart to keep any important pet medications or special foods and water handy as well. It’s all part of a home emergency plan. Just in case.
One thing we’re also doing now is taking the cats for drives in the carrier just to get them familiar with the car. That way, when it’s vet time, they won’t panic thinking car=vet=scary.
The soft-shelled ones are used for things like air travel where the carrier can be placed under the seat (if permitted).
Ultimately, the hard-shelled carriers are considered safer in the event of a car collision or other accident.
Because our cats do not like to be picked up, we needed a carrier that opens both from the top and sides so we have several ways to get them in and out with minimal stress.
Most cats seem to have very basic taste in toys.
One of our cats had a tiny felt football that she would fetch and return like dog. She would also do this with crumbled balls of paper.
And they can spend an afternoon following a moth or fly around the house.
The important part is to understand what the cat enjoys and provide a healthy, playful environment, of course.
Fur happens, that’s for sure.
Having cats means vacuuming a lot more often.
Reviewers rate the Dyson Cyclone V10 or V11 as top picks for suctioning cat hair but not all of us want to spend that on a vacuum cleaner.
We get by with a low-end stick vacuum for floors (hardwood, tile, and carpet) but getting fur off soft surfaces like couches and blankets is another matter.
So far the solutions that have worked are:
- Damp rubber dish glove gently rubbed across the surface
- Window squeegee (thanks to readers who provided this tip)
- Lint roller
Which one works varies with the surface I’m cleaning. None are perfect but they do much better than the vacuum cleaner.
Pre-emptively, brushing cats daily is a good idea if the fur is long enough and the cat enjoys it.
Allergy Fact: It’s a protein in cat’s saliva that triggers allergies in some humans. We think of the fur or dander as the source but it’s really the saliva on the fur (from grooming) that’s the problem.
Our Cat Adoption Story
We got Molly Bird and Clara (see pics below) in the summer of 2020 and this is the backstory.
Adopting pets is such a big commitment. And, for those of us who have loved and lost pets, it can take a lot to adopt again knowing there may be more heartbreak down the road along with many joyful years in between (we hope).
Not to be too glum about it but we’ve had some wonderful pets (cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, rats, birds) over the years and we still miss them. The grief from pet loss can be profound.
But 2020 seemed the right time to fall in love again and we were lucky to adopt Molly Bird and Clara.
Found abandoned in a box at the side of a road, their sibling cats had run off before animal rescue found these two who had stayed behind. Their age at the time was estimated at 7 to 10 months old.
They were small for their age, terrified of everything, and heavily sedated by the time we met them. There were wounds on Molly’s side (recently stitched up by Animal Rescue) and Clara’s tail had two breaks in it. She still has a bent tail (it looks like a wide question mark, but it causes her no pain).
Despite all of this, after a long initial visit to get to know them (which was frustrating due to their anti-anxiety meds), we decided to take a chance and adopt them, knowing they may never recover from their early traumas.
We were prepared to have two scaredy cats that lived out their days hiding in our home. But at least they would be safe, well-cared for, and loved from afar.
Day One Did Not Start Well
The first morning after we brought them home was upsetting to say the least. I got up early to check on them and could not find them anywhere.
We had set them up in their own room with all the necessities but left the door ajar in case they wanted to explore.
And I guess they did.
I knew there was no way they had left the house but darned if I could locate them.
After two hours of searching every room in the house, I eventually resorted to going through every shelf of every bookcase (there are lots) in the basement and found them sleeping behind some books in a dark corner, one cat on top of the other.
They were still coming off their anxiety medication so they were dopey and afraid of us, but I was just thankful they were okay. Who me worry?
We let them finish their sleep and carefully moved them back to the safety of their room.
Fast forward a few weeks and they were off their meds and trusting us. Not only trusting us, but affectionate. I’m sure it helped that our home is calm, peaceful, and they had safe and secure places to eat, sleep, and hide. They seemed to take me on as their Mama.
Just a few months later we’re totally bonded with one another and I can’t imagine life without these two characters.
They are still fearful of other people, and unlikely to overcome this since lockdown restrictions really limit how many other people they will encounter, but I’m thankful they have become silly, curious, playful cats for us to enjoy.
They do not like being picked up but they will readily sit on our laps to be petted and follow me around like I’m their Mama cat.
And, odd fact: they can’t meow. The only vocalizations are little chirps. I occasionally meow to them and this interests them to no end. But I’m not sure I really want to encourage them to learn how to!
Their most endearing quality of all is how they sleep hugging each other every afternoon on the chair next to my desk. You can see some of it in the photos below. Seriously cute, that is.
Molly Bird and Clara Photo Gallery
If you can’t get enough of their sweetness, Molly Bird and Clara also have their own Instagram page here.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛