10 Must-Have Products For a Healthy, Happy Cat

Did you know that 33% of Americans own a cat? And that there are 86 million owned cats in the U.S. (more than the 78 million owned dogs, since 52% of cat owners own more than one cat). (source) Over the years, my family has owned many cats. Combined with my own two and my experience working at a cat sanctuary, I feel well qualified to present my list of 10 products that every cat owner should own and use regularly to have happy and healthy felines.

Two cats on a cat scratching post
My two cats on their scratching post

10. Catnip Spray

I only recently discovered catnip spray and it’s changed my world. It’s much less messy than sprinkling catnip leaves and you can apply it vertically to scratching posts without the mess. And boy is it effective! It lasts long enough to give your cats a good playtime session. I like to spray it onto their scratching posts and directly onto their toys to encourage playtime sessions.  A quick search on Amazon will bring up many brands. I’ve had good luck with this one and this one, which is a more budget-friendly option.

9. Silicon Mats and Food Bowls

These mats and food bowls are great for reducing messes and are easy to clean. Whether you have carpet, hardwood or laminate flooring, these bowls and mats prevent spills, stay in place and keep food off of your floors. The Neater Feeder works really well and so does this silicone pet food and water mat.

8. Ribbon Toys and Ball Toys

I’ve tried many toys with cats and these two types of toys usually have the most success. You can also spray catnip on the ball toys and they can play on their own. Ribbon toy can get cats who don’t usually like to play like my American Bobtail. If you run it past them they will eventually begin to chase it. This toy set has a nice selection of ball toys as well as a fleece ribbon toy.

7. Treats

Just like us, cats appreciate some variety in their food. Treats can be provided between meals and/or as rewards to your cat for good behavior (such as after a walk if you’ve leash-trained your cat). If your cat has a sensitivity to corn, wheat, chicken or other foods you can find special treats just for them.

6. Cat Furniture

I highly recommend that cat owners invest in some sturdy and aesthetically pleasing cat furniture in your home where your cat can scratch, jump, play and sleep. Cats naturally like to climb and be up high so they can get a view of their environment. Cat furniture also provides them with a mechanism for sharpening their claws, something they need to do in the wild and will do on your furniture if not provided with cat furniture. If you’re not able to have cat furniture, having cardboard scratching mats is the second-best option. The prices for cat furniture ranges greatly and so do the colors and appearances. You can even make some great ones yourself. My advice is to find ones that will hold up to the scratching they will endure and with large enough platforms/beds for them to lay. My orange tabby is too big for many of the beds on traditional posts which is something I need to be cognizant of when looking at posts. Both of my cats love this post.

My orange tabby on his scratching post (the one I recommended above)
A silver cat on a cat scratching post
My silver American Bobtail exploring her new scratching post

5. Waterless Flea Shampoo and Flea Combs

Fleas can be a nuisance, yet the flea treatments prescribed at the vet’s office are full of chemicals. They do work well if you need that level of protection, however, for daily flea maintenance using a flea comb to go through your cats and applying waterless foaming flea repellent cat shampoo can also help to control fleas. The waterless shampoo has natural peppermint essential oil to keep the fleas away. You simply wipe down your cat with a few pumps of the foam and you’re good to go.

4. Cat Brushes and Nail Trimmers

All cats can benefit from being brushed, whether the are long-haired or short-haired. Cats lick themselves in order to keep their coat and skin clean. From doing this they can develop hairballs which can eventually block their digestion tracts and cause real issues. Grooming them prevents hairballs and is a good overall practice for a healthy cat. Grooming your cat can also provide some nice relaxation and social bonding time for you and them.

Trimming your cat’s nails, whether they are outdoor or indoors, can also help them to stay at a healthy length. However, it’s very important that you learn how to do this correctly to avoid injuring them by cutting too close and cutting their quick. Here’s a great article on clipping your cat’s claws from WSU’s Veterinary School. Be sure to ask your vet before trying this at home.

3. Comfortable Cat Beds and Sleeping Places

Cats sleep the majority of their lives and having a comfortable place to sleep, nap, rest and hide is very important for them. Cats like to hide under beds and tables but also like to sit up high to patrol their environments. Having a variety of sleeping areas and cat beds or cushions around is important as they like to change up their sleeping situations often!

Cats sleeping in their beds
A table can be a great place for two cat sleeping areas

2. Unscented Cat Litter and One or More Clean Litter Boxes

There are so many cat litters available today and the truth is that you’ll need to find the best one that your cat will use. I’m always a fan of unscented, dust-free, scent-free litters made of natural materials because they’re better for you, your cat and the environment. I recommend Feline Pine, which consists of pine pellets that break down into a powder as the litter gets used and Naturally Fresh litter, which is made from walnut shells and is very low scent and dust-free. I’ve also used other unscented clumping litters (Arm and Hammer, Winco brand, etc.), which do have more dust than more natural brands but can be more cost-effective and overall are not too bad. Many natural litters do not have scents which means that you’ll need to clean your boxes more often, which is a good practice anyway as any cat owners should be scooping at least once a day, more if possible.

1. Cat Food For Your Cat’s Specific Needs

The last one can be difficult to narrow down but is an important one. Cat foods vary greatly from low-cost brands to higher-end specialty foods to raw foods. Depending on the life stage of your cat (kitten, adult to older adult), whether they are indoor or outdoor, whether they have a weight issue or other health conditions – all of these factors play a role in deciding which food to have them on. Currently, I’m using Hill’s Science Diet Weight Management dry cat food for my cats who can benefit from some weight loss. When trying to find a food that your pet enjoys and will enjoy without any health concerns (spitting up the food, etc.) have some patience as it can take some time, especially if you have a finicky cat or a cat with a sensitive digestion or other health considerations.

These are my recommendations for a healthy, happy cat. Keeping our animals healthy and happy involves much more than daily feeding and watering them, these are called forms of enrichment! The products I recommended meet all of the forms of enrichment mentioned in my linked enrichment post (above) and will contribute to the wellbeing of both you and your cat(s) for years to come!

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