It’s been about a year and a half since I adopted my cat. I had no idea what I really needed. As it turns out, there aren’t a lot of immediate needs. I think there are maybe only 3:
I did too much reading beforehand and concluded that short of grinding my own raw meat and carefully measuring out necessary dietary additives not found in poultry, the best I could do for my cat was find her something grain-free. Things that sound tasty and healthy for humans and dogs (blueberries, whole grain) aren’t ideal for cats. At least, the first ingredient should be meat.
I tried both traditional clumping litter and pine litter. I prefer the latter. It lasts longer and is easier to clean because you only have to deal with solid waste (which can be flushed). It actually does smell better. I think I was allergic to cleaning the clumping kind. It doesn’t matter what kind of box you get, but the pine litter requires a special scoop with larger holes like this.
Nail clippers — (For an indoor cat). Nothing fancy. I hear the fancy things don’t work as well anyway. Kitten nails will get sharp within a week, so you don’t have to get these before you adopt, but you’ll need them soon.
That’s it. Here are some things I got that I didn’t need:
Carrier — When you adopt a kitten from the pound, they give you a cardboard box for transport. Later, you may need one for vet visits, or for travel, but you don’t need to have one before your meowface comes home.
Bed — Your kitten will find something she likes. Maybe your bed, or a fuzzy couch blanket. Or in the case of my cat, a plastic bag on the kitchen table. Or an empty shipping box. I bought her a bed and she liked it for a few weeks, but soon moved on to bigger, better things.
Toys — I got my kitten one of these ball track things, half a dozen jingle balls and feathered mice, a dangly stick toy with 3 interchangeable dangly parts and most of this just ended up underneath the couch. The most popular items have not been from the store. At least, not purchased from the store. She was best friends with a rubber band for a week. She’s spent half her life in discarded cardboard boxes. She loves the bits of plastic guarding the tops of pill bottles.
Bowls — You don’t need specialized pet bowls. Just opt for stainless steel or ceramic rather than plastic. Plastic harbors more bacteria so a cat rubbing his chin on a food or water bowl is more prone to getting an infection from a plastic bowl.
Collars — Unnecessary for an indoor-only cat, especially if also microchipped. You can get one eventually for trips outside the house. I guess they’re good if you let your cat outside — so no one else thinks they’re homeless and tries to catnap them. Of course, a safety collar is recommended.
Okay, I hope that helps. I spent way more than I needed to and all the shopping made it feel more daunting than it needed to be. You’ll see that you don’t need much to keep a kitten happy. Your trash, your hair, and whatever you’re doing in the kitchen will be endlessly amusing. Good luck!