You may be wondering, why I chose Cats Protection? I think it stems from my childhood holidays in Devon when my sister and I would always beg to go in the Cats Protection charity shops! There would always be a picture of a black cat somewhere and it would remind me of my cat at home. In more recent years, I have heard a few stories where Cats Protection helped cats in circumstances where other charities had refused. I also like being part of the weekly lotteries and quarterly raffles the charity runs so that I can support a cause that I love with the added bonus that I might win something to spend on my two.
Once we had confirmed with the rehoming officer that we would like to rescue Charlie and Socks, I was told that the home visit could take place within the next two days. I was a little caught out by the quick turnaround as I hadn’t had chance to buy any cat supplies or furniture yet! This turned out not to be a problem since the volunteer who performed the home visit had some specific requirements to check rather than what brand of dish I had bought.
The lady who carried out the assessment was very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about cats. I found we had a lot in common due to our mutual passion for cats and we must have chatted for England! As time was flying by I started to get a little concerned, as my friends were popping over afterwards with their dog to go on a walk and I was pretty sure a dog turning up at the front door wouldn’t go down well! How do I get myself into these situations?!
The volunteer passed me a few leaflets that were created to ensure that owners had the right level of knowledge to start caring for their cat. She then checked for areas of shelter in the garden and enquired whether we would get a cat flap. I told her that while I was growing up my entire family were constantly at the beck and call of our cats, letting them in and out through the door because we couldn’t fit a cat flap. It didn’t help that my previous cat was rather whimsical and couldn’t decide whether he wanted to be in or out a lot of the time. I was sure that this reinforced the idea in his mind that we were his servants. This time, we would definitely be getting a cat flap!
The volunteer then talked through other aspects of ownership such as annual veterinary trips for vaccinations, flea and worming treatment, pet insurance and litter trays. We were also recommended not to let the cats out of the house for at least four weeks and we needed to make an appointment at the vet for booster jabs (paid for by Cats Protection) at the end of those 4 weeks. We also talked about the basic needs of the cats and looked around for obvious places for food bowls and litter trays. The advice was so helpful and although the Cats Protection staff are not allowed to make recommendations on any specific brands, I did feel like I could make a list of everything Charlie and Socks would need to help them settle in.
Luckily my friends were running late with the dog so there was no embarrassing encounter at the front door in the end! As she was leaving, the volunteer told me that she would be letting the shelter know that we would be fine to adopt Charlie and Socks. My relief and excitement suddenly turned to panic. I had two days to find everything they needed. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime! One late night later, and all the items Charlie and Socks could ever want were heading to our house next day delivery.
I have put together a helpful list below of what I bought to inspire others who may find themselves in the same situation! I have also tried to state how much of a success each product was so you can learn from both my successes and failures. Additionally, if you have any ideas to add to this list, please let me know by adding a comment! There are pictures of each item you can click on to see more details on Amazon and if you buy products via this site, I will get a small commission (at no extra cost to you) to keep Charlie and Socks in the luxurious lifestyle they are now accustomed to. Thank you!
A beginner’s guide for owners looking for cat products (in a hurry!)
Eating and Drinking
Biscuits and Pouches: Based on the cats’ reactions when I shook a treat bag at them on the first viewing, I was not surprised when the fosterer told me not to worry about what brand of food to buy. These cats eat anything! I considered this a positive, seeing as my Mum’s cat is a very fussy little lady who likes to lick the gravy off her food and leave the rest. I will write a post on food later as I have found it a very complicated subject (so far Charlie has gone grain-free to reduce flatulence!) but to tide me over for the first few weeks, I bought the same food that my previous cats ate: IAMS biscuits and Purina pouches.
Feeding bowls: Remember to purchase some nice bowls for the cats. Most websites I checked recommended ceramic or stainless steel bowls. I really liked the style of these ceramic ones on amazon. They do different colours too!
Water fountain: OK, I understand if this may be considered a little excessive but I feel it was totally worth it! I managed to convince my boyfriend that it was a necessity for two reasons:
- Cats prefer running water to water sat in a bowl. This stems back to their natural instincts as running water in the wild would be fresher.
- The fountain can hold a lot of water and contains a filter so if we went away for the weekend, or if I was being forgetful, we wouldn’t have to worry about the cats not having enough water.
In the end, the fountain was a success and both the cats love to drink from the raised sections!
Feeding mat: I was keen to invest in a feeding mat as some cats are incredibly messy eaters. There are some cats in my family that leave more biscuits on the floor than in their stomachs. In our case though, Charlie turned out not to be one of those cats and it is unusual for him to even leave behind crumbs!
Food timer: We opted for a cheapy mechanical food timer for when we go away but luckily we only have to get this out for emergencies as Charlie and Socks are popular with our neighbours who are happy to look after them. It is easy to use as you set the countdown by twisting the clock timer on the front. Once the timer reaches zero, the flap it is connected to opens. This timer was only a success once my boyfriend drilled a hole in the flaps and cable-tied the two together so that both flaps lift up at the same time. Otherwise, quite a lot of food stealing goes on!
Litter and trays
Litter: My top tip for litter is to ask at the shelter exactly what the cats are used to! I optimistically chose to go for a wood based cat litter as I was hoping to go for an eco-friendly option. While Socks was open to trying something new, Charlie was not so keen to embrace his new status as an eco-warrior. He practically crossed his legs until I brought out the traditional cat litter. We found Catsan was a good choice but I would also recommend the cat litter from Aldi!
Wood based alternative: Pettex Pampuss Woodbase Cat Litter 30 Litre
Litter trays – I bought two different types of litter tray: two of the open trays and one hooded tray. They had to be suitable for a very large tabby so I chose the XL sizes. I had previously heard that cats are less likely to be comfortable with hooded trays, though at the moment I can’t remember where this is from. I will post about it when I find it again! I did go for one hooded tray and I went for the version without a flap, seeing as they may never have used a cat flap before. This turned out to be a good decision seeing how perplexed Charlie was when we bought a cat flap! You’ll hear about his cat flap training antics later. I picked open trays that had a rim to stop litter flying everywhere. Our cats love a good dig so this turned out to be a good choice.
Although the standard rule is to have one tray per cat plus one, we quickly went down to two once they started going outside as Charlie prefers to go in the garden (or my neighbour’s lavender bush – much to my embarrassment and her amusement!).
Litter tray liners: I cheat and use litter tray liners to make life a lot easier when changing the tray. I would love to use biodegradable ones but I have yet to find any on the market. Please comment if you know of any!
Scoop: I loved how pretty this scoop was!
Beds: I bought one bed per cat though in the end, Socks has claimed both of them while Charlie prefers the sofas, the landing or a double bed!
Radiator bed: Socks absolutely LOVES this bed in winter when the heating is on. The only time she has ever had a moan at me was when I had to take her bed down to wash it. She seems to really love the feeling of being suspended in a warm hammock. I don’t blame her! Worth mentioning though that this bed isn’t big enough for a large cat like Charlie.
Doughnut bed: I originally bought this for Charlie as it is the perfect size for him. He used it once or twice but now it is Socks’s ‘summer bed’ which she uses when the radiators aren’t on.
I was really impressed with the toy assortment we got from Amazon! The toys were very good quality and lasted really well. The cats absolutely destroyed the feather on a stick so we will be replacing that very soon!
Wire toys: These wire toys were great quality and also a big hit with the cats. I love the way you can add different attachments easily to change over the toys when the cats get bored. The best one so far was the wriggly worm (or carrot?! – I can’t tell!). Charlie goes crazy for it. The dragonfly’s days were also numbered as soon as it came out the packet!
Kickeroo – this has to be by far the best investment we made in terms of toys! It took a little while for the cats to realise what to do with this toy, and now they know, it is one of their absolute favourites. The toy simulates a rat or large prey in the wild and encourages the cats then kick it with their back legs. It helps them to let off a lot of steam!
Catnip spray: I sprayed everything that belongs to the cats with a little bit of catnip so that they know it is theirs. It is important not to spray too much though. I made the mistake of covering one of the scratching post and the cats were off their heads for about ten minutes. I felt so guilty!!!
Wire brush: I tried this style of brush but it was not successful at all. I don’t think either of the cats are used to being brushed and for the moment we are just using a (clean!) shoe polishing brush with soft bristles. They can just about cope with that.
Flea comb: I thought it was worth investing in a flea comb as both cats had fleas when they were brought to the shelter. Luckily they have been fine since then but I wanted to make sure myself!
Cages: When we were first buying products for the cats, I wanted to buy some second-hand bits seeing as many people probably get rid of cages every day. We contacted a local lady on gumtree who was selling a cage. We asked her if it would be suitable for a large cat and she said it was large enough for her ‘chunky monkey’. My boyfriend collected it and when he got home, I stared at it in dismay. There was no way the massive Charlie was going to fit into that. He was going to need something special. I trawled through Amazon and found a cage that, admittedly, looks like an airline crate, but is the perfect size for him. I also bought a couple of blankets to put in the cage, though Charlie has since made it clear that he much prefers towels so I’m glad I didn’t buy many!
Top tip! I went through a disappointing number of scratching posts before I found ones that work for my cats. I definitely recommend seeing if there are other customer photos before you buy anything online and looking at them in a shop is also a good idea if possible so you know how sturdy they’ll be. We ended up going for a barrel scratching post (mentioned later) and a tall scratching post, similar to the links below though they were from a shop rather than online.
Feliway: Cats Protection recommended setting up the cats in a single room first with everything they need so they get can used to the house slowly. This helps to stop the cats getting stressed. I plugged in the Feliway 24 hours before we brought the cats home. The initial introduction to the house was successful so I’d definitely recommend Feliway to others!
It’s worth investing in some good cleaning products early on. Charlie was sick on a carpet within a couple of weeks of living with us and I was very grateful to have this in the cupboard!
Phew – that is exhausting to look at and I’m dreading when my boyfriend sees this post and adds up how much I spent. It may seem a lot but those cats are worth every single penny!
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