New Kitten Checklist: All the Supplies, Essentials, and Health Care They Need

Published Oct. 2, 2023
orange and white kitten playing with a mouse toy

Bringing a new kitten home is exciting, but making sure you have everything they need can be stressful. Kittens need a lot to be set up for a long and happy life. But with some organization, you can make sure you have all the essentials.

Here’s a new kitten checklist compiled to make planning and shopping for your recent addition a breeze.

checklist depicting supplies, kitten-proofing, and veterinary care new kittens need


Must-Have Kitten Supplies

So, what does a kitten need? There are a few items you should stock up on before bringing your new furry friend home.

1. Kitten Food

If your new addition is less than 6 months old, make sure to buy a commercial diet made specifically for growing kittens, such as Purina ONE +Plus Kitten Formula. These youngsters need a higher calorie intake than older cats and a different balance of nutrients.

Feeding your new kitten a mix of wet food and dry food can help prevent them from developing picky eating habits as they grow older. This can be particularly important if your kitty ever requires prescription food as an adult.

Make sure to measure how much food you are feeding your kitten. This way, you and your vet can make necessary adjustments to prevent them from becoming overweight after they are spayed or neutered.

2. Food and Water Bowls

The best food and water bowls for a new kitten are those that are easy to clean and don’t tip over easily. Stainless steel bowls with a wide base, like the Frisco® Non-Skid Cat Bowl, will reduce the mess a playful or mischievous kitten can make. Be sure to clean bowls daily.

Many cats prefer to drink running water, so investing in a water fountain is a great idea. However, also provide your new kitten with a bowl of standing water in case that’s their preference.

3. Litter Box

Many cats and kittens prefer open-topped litter boxes, and using clumping litter makes them easy to clean. Kittens will snub a dirty box, so clean it daily to keep it inviting.

If you are introducing a kitten to a multi-cat household, the kitten needs their own litter box. In general, it’s best to have one litter box for each cat you have, plus one additional box, set up in different locations.

You may want to buy a smaller box at first if your kitten is very tiny, so they can get in and out with ease. But if you do buy a smaller box, replace it as your cat grows—they should always have plenty of room to move around inside the litter box.

The Frisco Senior and Kitten Cat Litter Box offers the best of both worlds: It’s easy for a kitten to climb into, but also big enough for an adult cat.

4. Toys

Nothing is cuter than a kitten playing with toys, and toys are also important for introducing your kitten to appropriate play so that they don’t decide hands and feet are fun to bite. Playful biting may be cute when they are small, but it’s decidedly less cute when they are adults.

There are a lot of great cat toys on the market. Make sure the toys you buy are durable and cannot be ripped up or eaten. Catnip toys, mouse toys, and teaser wands are all popular choices. But teaser wands should only be used in active play with you, as kittens left to their own devices with a wand may chew on the strings and potentially ingest them, resulting in a medical emergency.

Do not let your kitten or cat play with yarn, thread, rubber bands, corks, hair ties, or wire twist ties. These are all easily ingested and can become a hazard.

5. Scratching Surfaces

Scratching surfaces and cat trees are essential for reducing stress in cats and kittens. Different cats will have different preferences for scratching material and orientation, so it’s a great idea to get multiple kinds of scratching toys for your home.

Cardboard scratchers are inexpensive and can be placed horizontally or vertically in multiple locations. Standing sisal scratchers are also very popular; just be sure to get one that’s tall enough for your kitten to fully stretch from the base all the way to the top.

Cat trees provide both scratching surfaces and vertical spaces for your cat to climb and sit. Having high places to rest makes cats and kittens feel safer, so it’s great to integrate free-standing or wall-mounted cat trees if your living situation allows it.

6. Carrier

An appropriately sized carrier is extremely important for your cat’s long-term health and safety, even if you don’t plan on traveling with them frequently. Veterinarians most often recommend hard-sided plastic carriers, as they are easy to clean.

It’s also helpful to choose a carrier that can be opened from both the side and the top, as this can reduce stress when accessing your kitten.

Kitten-Proofing Your Home

A kitten’s natural curiosity will definitely get them into trouble in an unprepared home. Because they have no trouble reaching high places and squeezing into small cervices, kitten-proofing your home can be a bit more complicated than child-proofing or puppy-proofing.

1. Shut All Windows

Leaving windows even the slightest bit cracked provides easy escape routes for your new kitten. Also, kittens can shred window screens with their sharp claws, so it’s important not to leave even screened windows open if your kitten is unattended.

While you’re at the window, make sure any cords from drapes and blinds are tied up and inaccessible. Kittens can get tangled and injured while trying to play with them.

2. Remove Fall Risks

Kittens love to get up high, and shelves are extremely tempting jungle gyms. Evaluate your house for items and furniture that could fall and injure your kitten if they tried climbing them. Offer your kitten a cat tree or other safe places to perch, like window hammocks or cat shelves. You won’t be able to keep a cat on the floor!

3. Pick Up Cords

Electrical cords make a tempting toy for kittens, and chewing on them can lead to electrocution (and damage to your electronics as well!). Zip-tie and tape loose cords tightly to avoid the temptation to your kitten. Keep corded headphones well hidden—they are a popular chew toy for cats.

4. Make Houseplants and Bouquets Hard To Reach

Though they’re carnivores, most cats and kittens can’t resist chewing on house plants. For the safety of both your kitten and your plants, keep plants in rooms that are inaccessible to your new kitty.

Review the plants you have in case any of them are toxic to cats. Some, such as lilies, are particularly dangerous to cats—even small amounts of the pollen, leaves, and flowers can cause acute kidney injury. Veterinarians recommend simply not having lilies in your house or garden if you have kitties.

5. Keep Food and Medications Locked Away

Keep food in cat-proof containers or cabinets. Plastic bags are easy for kittens to chew through, and they can also be dangerous to kittens.

Kittens might also eat medications dropped on the floor or left on the counter, which can make them very sick. Make sure to keep these securely put away.

New Kitten Vet Checklist

Even if you adopted your kitten already spayed or neutered with all vaccines up to date, getting them to the vet to establish a relationship is very important.

1. Schedule a Vet Visit

Try to get an appointment for your kitten as soon as you can. You don’t even have to have their name picked out to get something scheduled! If your kitten came with any records of treatments from the rescue, shelter, or breeder, forward these to your vet to make your first visit as streamlined as possible. This way, you and your vet can focus on what your kitten doesn’t already have completed.

2. Microchip Your Kitten

Even indoor cats should be microchipped in case they ever accidentally escape. Cat collars will break easily if caught on a branch or fence, so a microchip may be the only way for your cat to be identified if the worst should happen.

Ask your vet when the right time to microchip is. If your kitten is already microchipped, make sure you have the number recorded somewhere and know how to update your contact information.

3. Get All Needed Vaccines

Kittens under 16 weeks of age will still need vaccines, even if some were administered when your kitten was with the breeder or shelter.

  • FVRCP (feline distemper) should be given every three to four weeks until your kitten is at least 16 weeks old.

  • At 12 weeks old, kittens are old enough for the rabies vaccine.

  • Discuss the feline leukemia vaccine with your veterinarian. Although leukemia is transmitted only through direct contact with other cats, many cat parents feel more comfortable having their indoor kitties at least vaccinated initially.

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4. Test for Transmissible Diseases

This is important for all kittens, but especially for kittens entering a multi-cat household. Ask your veterinarian if your kitten has been tested for feline leukemia, FIV, and heartworms through a blood test.

Bring a fecal sample to your appointment to make sure your kitten doesn’t have any intestinal parasites, as they are extremely common!

5. Begin Parasite Prevention

Indoor kittens are still at risk for fleas, which can hitchhike into your home on rodents, other pets, and even on you. Kittens who will be spending time outside, such as on a harness or inside a catio, should also have tick prevention.

There are safe and effective topical, oral, and collar options available for your cat. Always discuss with your vet to find the right option for your kitten.

Featured Image: Adobe/Elvira

Jamie Lovejoy, DVM


Jamie Lovejoy, DVM


Dr. Jamie Lovejoy graduated from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 after an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. ...

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