Many people buy kittens quite suddenly, perhaps on impulse because a child wants one, or because they've seen a lovely little kitten which is in need of a home. But this is really not a good idea. You need to plan for a new baby cat arrival, and there are a number of items which you will need if you don't already have them. It is a good idea to obtain these in advance, although some of them can be bought at intervals after you have the kitten. Here is a list of what you are likely to need.
Of course, you can use ordinary kitchen plates and bowls, and it is not necessary to buy anything expensive, unless you want to. It is possible to buy lovely ceramic dishes wish pictures of cats on them, but your kitten really won't know the difference. However, it is a good idea to have food and water dishes specifically for your kitten, so that she gets used to them. Make sure they are of a suitable size, and that the food bowls aren't too deep. Some cats don't like drinking out of plastic, and others prefer running water, so you may find yourself replacing the water bowls with some in stainless steel and/or a water fountain in time.
This is essential for a long haired kitten, which may well need daily grooming. But even short haired cats benefit from occasional brushing and combing. A soft brush and a wide toothed cat comb should be enough for starters, and you can buy other equipment as and when you need it. It is also a good idea to have ear and eye wipes for gentle clean-ups. Later you may want to buy claw clippers to trim the tips of your cat's claws, but you won't need these immediately.
Most cats make their own decisions as to where they would like to sleep – often their owner's bed! Even so, it is a good idea to have a special place for the kitten to call her own. Again, it needn't be anything expensive; a cushion with a small blanket on it will do just fine. Try to put it somewhere quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the household, so that your new kitten knows she has somewhere to retreat to is she wishes.
This is essential, as even if you plan to let your new kitten go outside, it isn't safe to do this until after she has had all her vaccinations. And you may need to confine her at times anyway, such as the hours before a planned vet visit. So invest in a litter tray – or you can use a box or gardening seed tray if you wish. There are many types of cat litter, and any of them will do, but try to use one which the kitten is used to if you can. Don't forget to buy a litter scoop for cleaning the tray, and possibly plastic bags for used litter.
This will be necessary for vet trips, and maybe trips to a cattery later on. Don't rely on a cardboard carrier, even if your kitten came home in one of those; it really is worthwhile to buy a strong, well designed cat carrier. You really don't want to risk your cat clawing her way out of a cheaper version.
It is a good idea not to leave buying this until you already have a hungry kitten miaowing for food! Any good quality cat food is fine, either wet or dry, and many owners like to feed both. It is a good idea to have food specifically designed for kittens, as the pieces will be smaller and the nutritional content designed for a growing kitten, but ordinary cat food is OK if that's all you can find. Make sure your kitten always has water available, particularly if she is eating dry food.
Cats scratch naturally, and if you don't want your kitten to use your furniture, then buy her a scratching post. She may try to use the furniture anyway, but you will have a better chance of dissuading her if she has her own specially designed post.
There are a few items you will need to maintain your kitten's health, and it is as well to buy them in advance. Young kittens easily get worms and fleas, and you will need to buy treatment for both. Your vet can give you the best advice on what to use, and now is the time to register your kitten with a local vet. You might wish to get a Feliway or Pet Remedy diffuser – these are compounds which are used to prevent stress in cats, and are useful to use if you have a new feline addition to the family. Apart from these, kittens are usually pretty healthy, and if yours does have any health problems, it is better to take her to the vet than to attempt to treat her yourself. Never give any human medicines to cats; many of them will be harmful or even poisonous.
These are not exactly essential, but your kitten will be delighted if you buy her some tasty treats, to be fed sparingly. They may also be useful if you wish to distract her from doing things she shouldn't, such as climbing on kitchen worktops.
If you only have one kitten, she will need lots of toys to play with. If you don't buy them for her, she may well use what she can find, such as ornaments and other household items. So if you want to have a happy kitten, invest in a few toy mice, dangly items, and other cat toys
Don't give milk to your kitten; many cats are lactose intolerant and it can give them stomach upsets. You can buy special low lactose cat milk if you want to give this to her, but it isn't necessary.
Some people will say you need to buy your kitten a collar, but for many reasons this is not really a good idea. Collars, even the quick release kind, can sometimes snag on branches, and cats can get a paw stuck in them too. Nasty injuries have been caused this way. It is essential to get your kitten microchipped, so that you can be reunited with her if she gets lost, and this is far safer than a collar.