National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day: 40 essentials for new pet owners

Adopt, don’t shop.

That’s the motto when looking to add a new furry friend to your family, as there are so many cats and dogs awaiting fur-ever homes that are currently in shelters across America.

National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day comes around every April 30, bringing awareness to the fact that a whopping 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters every year, according to the ASPCA website. Only about 3.2 million of those shelter animals are adopted each year, with the remaining half waiting for families to rescue them.

If that family happens to be yours, there are just a few more things you’ll need to get before picking up your new fur baby (after being approved by the shelter and filling out the appropriate forms, of course.)

From food and water bowls to carriers, leashes and litter boxes, don’t let any of the necessities slip your mind when prepping for your new pet. To ensure a safe and happy homecoming, we’ve created a list of the essentials you’ll need to have in order before opening the doggy door to your new pet.

See below for a roster of animal must-haves with items for both cats and dogs of any age, size and breed. While these are just the basics, we won’t stop you from adding a few extra treats and toys to the cart — who can resist spoiling a future fur baby?

Nutritious food

Ollie Dog Food Plan, prices vary, take 50% off your first box

An orange box and a dog with a plate of pet food

Call Ollie just once and he will come every time you run out of food.

Ollie is a dog food delivery service on a mission to feed your pup fresh and all-natural food while making it simple for the owner, too. The service and the food itself are tailored to your dog’s needs, taking into account age, weight, breed and other factors from a quiz you take before ordering. Choose from lamb, chicken, beef or turkey, all of which will be devoured in seconds if you’re not careful.

Cat Person Meal Plan, prices vary

A box of Cat Person brand food and measuring cups
Cat Person

If you just adopted a kitten, welcome to the official Cat Person Club.

Before welcoming your cat home, make sure you are fully stocked when it comes to food, as your kitten may look small but their stomachs say otherwise. Cat Person offers a delivery service for their Meal Plan, making it so much easier to stay fully stocked of your cat’s new favorite foods. Try it out with a $20 starter box that includes dry and wet food, as well as measuring cups and caps. Then, once your kitty is hooked, continue with a subscription.

Open Farm Cat and Dog Food, prices vary

A bag of dog food

If you have a dog, a cat or both, make this your one-stop shop for all of your food needs.

Sold on Amazon, the Open Farm brand is a great way to make sure your furry friends are full and stay healthy, as all of the food is sustainably sourced and made with natural ingredients you can track back to their origins. Shop for dry dog food and treats for your new pup, or choose to load up on dry food for the kitty, in either salmon or turkey flavors they’ll love.

A comfortable place to sleep Memory Foam Bed, $55

A cat sitting in a gray and white cat bed

Give them a comfortable place to take a cat nap and they’ll wake up purring and ready to play.

This bed is as good as it gets — for a cat or, really, anyone who loves snuggling up on memory foam. The bed is spacious enough for kittens and cats and comes with a removable weatherproof cover, should you want to set this up on the deck to bask in the sun. It comes in either gray or a denim-blue color and ships to your door for free.

Laylo Pets Dog Beds, starting at $75

A fluffy tan dog on a black and white dog bed
Laylo Pets

When your new puppy is finally tired out, your best bet is to lay low and let them sleep.

Laylo beds are the perfect way to do just that, while also serving as an adorable decoration for your space. The beds come in a variety of fun patterns and colors, including the above chevron pattern, a wood-like terracotta and a modern spotted one perfect for Spot. Choose to purchase the whole bed or just the cover, as they are easy to mix and match once you have the mattress at home.

Litter boxes and baggies for bathroom breaks

Max Bone Dog Poop Bag Holder, $25

A dark green dog poop bag holder
Max Bone

Sometimes being a dog owner stinks, but this will make it easier — and more fashionable.

Never forget your doggy bags again when going out for a walk, as this poop bag holder from Max Bone attaches easily to your leash, harness or even your keys. The bag is refillable when you run low and comes in an olive green color.

Earth Rated Poop Bags, $11.49

A box of eco-friendly dog poop bags

It’s a natural process, so why not embrace the eco-friendly aspect all the way?

These Earth Rated Poop Bags are found on Chewy’s website, with 270 bags for under $12. They are super strong to prevent leaks or tears and come in either a lavender-scented or an unscented pack, should you want your doggie’s doo to smell like flowers while you look for a trash can.

PetSafe Simply Clean Self-Cleaning Litter Box, $99.95

A cat stepping out of a circular litter box

Cats are a bit easier when it comes to doing their business, as there is no need to go for a walk. With this contraption, you won’t even need to do the bare minimum of scooping, making for a happy kitty and a happy owner, too.

The PetSafe litter box is a self-cleaning one, with a slow and quiet rotation system that sweeps through the litter every 30 minutes, scooping the used litter into the smell-proof bin, easily emptied when full. The system and refills of the carbon filters are sold at Chewy, now on sale for under $100.

Kitty Litter, prices and brands vary, save 30% off your first Autoship purchase

Two boxes of orange kitty litter

Kitty litter is a must-have item before bringing your new fur ball home. Imagine coming home yourself to no toilet!

Stock up on your favorite brands at Chewy and make sure to set up a recurring order with Autoship, as you’ll need litter on hand every step of your cat’s life. New customers can save 30% on their first Autoship order, so stock up and then forget all about it, as litter will come to your door without a second thought.

Bowls for food and water

Arf Pets Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder 16-cup, $79.97

A white automatic pet feeder

Never forget to feed the new pets — not that they’d let you, of course, with a bark and a meow at feeding time.

The Arf Pets Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder can hold 16 cups of food at a time and can be set with specific amounts to be dispensed up to four different times per day. Get one for the dog and another for the kitty, avoiding any tension or scarfing of food when they feel threatened by other animals — and confusion for you when feeding multiple pets or getting used to your new pet’s schedule.

Drinkwell Pagoda Ceramic Dog & Cat Fountain, $79.95

A cat drinking from a white fountain

Turn your home into a mini pet sanctuary with a water fountain for your fancy feline or posh pup.

Sold at Chewy, the ceramic material keeps water fresher than any plastic bowl, as does the continuous filtration when the water circulates through the fountain. It comes in a solid white as well as red, blue and taupe to match any room your cat deems their own.

Cat Person Mesa Bowl, $40

A pink tray with a white and green food bowl for a pet on top
Cat Person

Say goodbye to whisker fatigue with this elevated cat bowl and tray to catch any leftover crumbs.

The Mesa Bowl set comes in three color combinations, adding some a pop to your kitty’s feeding routine. Choose from the above pink and green, a purple and red combo or a purple and blue, each with a no-tip system to prevent spills when a hungry cat approaches.

Wild One Stainless Steel Bowl Kit, $48

A dog eating from a black food and water bowl
Wild One

Feed your wild one in a bowl personalized just for them.

Wild One has a set of two bowls, perfect for your pooch’s food and water. They are made of stainless steel to keep their contents fresh with an outer layer of silicone for a no-slip surface. They come in black, green and tan and can be personalized with your pet’s name or a food and water label, to avoid getting mixed up at feeding time.

Pet insurance and care items

Petplan Pet Insurance, prices average $35/month for dogs, $25/month for cats

A cartoon of a phone with an insurance claim on the screen for a cat

Your new pet is a member of the family but, sadly, cannot be added to your human health insurance plan.

Petplan insurance is the easiest way to make sure your new pet is well taken care of, especially when they are sick and need emergency attention. Rates run as low as $25 to $35 per month, depending on your animal and its needs. Monitor claims, create new ones and find providers for medical and dental with ease through the app, with no networks to limit which vet you can use.

Chewy Pharmacy, 20% off Your First Pharmacy Purchase with code RX20

A Heartguard medication for a dog

Keep your pet in tip-top shape, making sure they have their meds right when they need them — and never run out.

Chewy has a fully stocked pet pharmacy, making it easy to get all your pet’s prescriptions with the click of a button. New pet owners can also take 20% off your first pharmacy purchase with code RX20 at checkout.

Alpha Pets Dog Nail Trimmer, $59

A hand holding a dog nail trimmer in front of a bulldog
Alpha Pet

It’s not only cats’ claws that get sharp and need a good trim.

Make sure your dog’s nails are properly cared for and filed with this dog nail trimmer from Alpha Pets. The tool carefully grinds tough dog nails down with low vibrations and a quiet motor to not spook your pet. This tool is great when you can’t visit a groomer or just need a touch-up before your next visit.

Simply Pets Online Cat Nail Clippers, $12.85

A pair of cat nail clippers

The first thing you’ll need is patience. The second is a pair of cat nail clippers.

While having a scratching post is great, trimming a cat’s nails is a must to keep them healthy — and you free of cuts and scratches. The Simply Pets trimmer is found on Amazon and is designed by vets to be safe and easy to use on your pet’s paws.

Mr. Peanut’s Hand Gloves Dog & Cat Grooming, $9.99

A pair of gloves with blue rubber spikes for pet grooming

Get two things done at once, giving your pet some love and grooming them with these gloves.

Perfect for animals that don’t tolerate traditional brushes and combs, these gloves are great for brushing out loose fur that causes fur balls, dander and debris to make your pet itchy and uncomfortable. The set of two is sold at Chewy, on sale now for under $10.

A carrying crate

Wild One Travel Carrier, $125

A dog in a green carrying crate
Wild One

A carrier is something you’ll need before bringing your pet home, as many shelters require you to provide your own for the jouney home post-adoption.

Make sure your new pet rides in style with a padded carrier from Wild One. The Travel Carrier is also great for trips to the vet, car rides and anything else that requires your pet to be on-the-go. The crate comes in green, black and tan, recommended for animals up to 16 pounds.

Roverlund Out-of-Office Pet Carrier, $150

A woman bends over to look at her dog in a black and pink carrier

Get them a carrier they’ll never want to get out of — and, really, they don’t ever have to.

This three-in-one carrier from Roverlund is an airline-compliant crate, a car seat and a doggy bed, with a plush interior and durable sides to keep Fido feeling safe and secure. The bag comes in a variety of colors including the above hot pink and black, black and yellow, blue, and a pink or orange camouflage combination.

Henkelion Cat Backpack, $39.99

A white fluffy cat in a pink backpack case

Don’t keep you cat in the dark when taking them on a trip.

Give them the opportunity to have an adventure of their own with a clear carrier backpack that gives them peace of mind and you hands-free while on the go. Sold on Amazon, the carrier comes in an array of colors seen in the photo, each coming with plenty of holes for ventilation and adjustable backpack straps.

Lots of treats

Furbo Full HD Wifi Dog Treat Dispenser & Camera, $169.99

A Furbo automatic pet treat feeder

Reward your good boy or girl, even when you can’t be home to do it yourself.

The Furbo camera is a treat-throwing machine, easily programmed over your home Wi-Fi and connected to your smartphone, sending treats and showing you what your pet is up to with a touch of a button. The Furbo Full HD system is available at and is currently on sale for more than $75 off.

Amazon Pets Wag Training Treats for Dogs, $7.77

A bag of dog training treats
Amazon Pets

Throw your dog a bone, but only for good behavior.

When training your new pup — be it to stay off the furniture or to only potty outside and not on your new rug — you’ll need a bunch of treats to keep them on track. These training tidbits from Amazon Pets are specially formulated to tempt your dog, making it easier to train them since they are probably dreaming about their reward already. They are bite-sized to prevent overfeeding and come in a tasty chicken flavor dogs love.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Cat Treats Variety Eight-Pack, $14.99

An array of cat treats by Rachel Ray

Treats are the spice of your cat’s life, so why not keep it flavorful and different?

Rachael Ray has a line of delicious and nutritious kitten treats your pet will love. She is a chef, after all. The LoveBites treats are crunchy on the outside and filled with a creamy inside, while the SoftSpots are chewy and easy to munch on. The Wheelies are a combination of both, shaped like adorable squirrels to make treat time even more fun.

Plenty of toys

BarkBox Subscription, starting at $23/month

An array of dog toys and treats in a box
Bark Box

When in doubt, get a whole box worth of stuff for your pup. They deserve it, after all.

BarkBox is a monthly subscription box for dogs, filled to the brim with must-haves like squeaky toys, ropes, treats and snacks that are all pup-approved and made in the USA. Boxes start at $23 per box but have a value over $40, meaning you get a bang for your buck each time you bark. Each month’s box also follows a theme, so it’s fun for both your fluffy friend and you when it’s time to open the mailbox to see which treats you received.

Petstages Cat Tracks Cat Toy, $10.98

An orange spinning cat toy

Chances are when you bring your new kitty home, they’ll want to explore and play right off the bat.

Keep your cat entertained and stimulated with this ball toy you can leave on the floor and forget about. Your kitty is the only motor or battery pack needed, as they will bat the balls with their paws, and the momentum will keep them going until they pounce again.

Frisco Plush, Teaser & Ball Variety Pack Cat Toy with Catnip, 12-count, $10.98

An array of cat toys

Playing with your kitty is the best thing you can do, and keeping them interested is no small task.

Switch up your playtime routine often with a multi-pack of toys from Chewy, including 12 toys for under $11. Inside you’ll find feline favorites like wand toys, catnip mice, balls with jingles and crinkles and more.

Petco BARK Breakfast of Chompions Dog Toy, $6.99

Dog toys shaped like a coffee cup and a bagel

Especially essential for a new New York pup or kitten: Pick up your morning coffee and bodega bagel for them, too, now that they are part of the family.

This adorable set is sold at Petco and includes a foamy latte with the iconic New York City cup design and an everything bagel with fluffy, white cream cheese. While not filled with coffee or carbs, the toys contain squeaky toys to keep your pets engaged, as well as stuffed-animal fluff for a great bite every time.

Pet furniture to make them feel at home (and not destroy yours)

Litter-Robot Cat Side Table, $149

A side table with a cat hole and a cat inside

What cat?

Make your home their home — without filling it with anything you wouldn’t buy for yourself. This tasteful side table doubles as a hiding spot and bed for your new cat, with a perfectly sized cut-out cubby at the base and a shelf on top for your human belongings. The shelf comes in the above black and gray finish, complete with vegetable-dyed sisal scratch pads and a matching gray cushion for the inside cubby.

Wayfair Ginny Pet Crate, $125.06

A black pet crate that doubles as a table

Archie & Oscar have a great solution for when you need to crate your dog but don’t want to keep a huge eyesore in the living room.

Sold at Wayfair, the Ginny Pet Crate is a perfect spot for your pooch, disguised as a coffee table you can use in your living room with ease. The crate comes in four sizes, depending on how much room your dog needs, as well as four colors: white, gray, brown and dark brown.

CatsPlay Furniture Cat Trees, prices vary

A cat in a white climbing tree
CatsPlay Furniture

Make sure your cat knows that they are the king or queen of the castle, giving them a vantage point where they can watch their subjects — i.e. you.

The cat trees sold at CatsPlay Furniture are equally adorable and functional, providing height and scratching surfaces that encourage good clawing etiquette and not the bad kind that leaves your couch and rugs torn to shreds. The shop has a wide variety of colors, heights and materials to choose from, making it easy to pick one that matches your home and makes your cat feel like they own the place.

Wayfair Grinnell Litter Box Enclosure, $90.59

A black bench and litter box enclosure

No one wants to look at a litter box, and chances are your new cat wants some privacy, too.

This litter box enclosure from Wayfair is almost completely hidden, as at first glance it looks to be a normal bench or storage area for the hallway or living room. Instead, this bench doubles as a bathroom for your kitty, with a space inside for their litter tray and two doors that open for easy scooping access. The bench comes in an array of colors, including black, white, gray and brown, to name a few.

Leashes and accessories for outdoor pets

Wild One Walk Kit, $98

A set of purple dog walking items like a harness, leash and doggie bags

Before bringing your puppy home, you’ll need a properly fitting harness and leash, plus doggy bags to take him on their first walk around the block.

Wild One makes that incredibly easy, with a kit for all of the above, in matching colors no less. The Walk Kit comes with a lightweight but sturdy dog harness, a dirt-resistant and water-proof leash and a poop-bag carrier in the color of your choosing, from a lovely lilac pictured above or from seven others, easily mixed and matched as well.

Fable Magic Link, $65

A light blue leash for a pet
Fable Pets

Whether walking just one pup or your new dog alongside your other animals, having a hands-free walk is almost magical.

Fable Pets makes this dream a reality with the Magic Link. The leash clips to your pet’s harness or collar the same as any other, or it can serve as its own collar, lasso or slip-on leash with a few different configurations and some practice. On the owner’s end, hold on like a traditional leash or use as a belt, a bandolier or a wrist-strap, keeping your hands free for coffee, toys or anything else.

Max Bone Talon Raincoat, $75

A dog in a raincoat
Max Bone

If your pup hates getting wet but needs to use the outdoor bathroom —or just get some exercise when it’s raining — this is for you.

This raincoat is not only the cutest thing to put your dog in, but it also keeps their fur nice and dry while out in the rain. The coat comes in a range of sizes from small to XXL, with a helpful size guide on the Max Bone site. It comes in the classic yellow color, pictured above, as well as in a bright blue to chase away rainy days and bring back blue skies.

PetSafe Stay & Play Compact Wireless Dog & Cat Fence, $249.95

An electric fence set

If you adopt a dog or plan to have an outdoor cat, an electric fence is something to think about to avoid the panic when your animal goes missing or escapes from the yard.

PetSafe Stay and Play system is an effective way to keep them in your yard. The kit comes with everything you need for an easy installation, including the in-home unit to plug in, flags to mark your yard’s barriers, waterproof and rechargeable collars and more. Simply put on their collar when playtime starts and remove it when safely inside — and have peace of mind while outdoors.

Cleaning supplies for the inevitable accidents

Bissell Symphony All-in-One Pet Vacuum, $219.99

A purple vacuum

Chances are your new pet has fur, and unless you got a hairless cat, much of that fur ends up on your floors.

The Bissell Symphony All-in-One Pet Vacuum can handle not just pet hair but also litter, dirty paw prints and more. Sold at Chewy, the vacuum is also a steamer and a mop, removing stains from pet’s past on hardwood, carpet, furniture and more.

Rocco & Roxie Supply Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator, $19.95

A pet cleaning spray

No matter how well you train them, accidents happen, especially with new pets.

This stain and odor spray from Amazon is great to have on hand for when someone misses the litter box or decides the carpet is more fun to use than the grass outside. Simply spray the stain, let stand for five to 10 minutes and then blot away the stain— and the smell, too.

eBay Refurbished iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot, $330 (original price: $600)

a brown and black iRobot Roomba vacuum

Not only will this robot keep your floor clean, it is also a fun toy for any cat or kitten in your home.

The iRobot Roomba is a must-have for any new pet parent who values clean floors and avoiding litter remnants or leftover kibble all over the house. Better yet, with eBay’s Certified Refurbished Program, get the amazing vacuum for a fraction of the ticket price, now only $330 down from the original $600. The vacuum hooks up easily with your smartphone and can be programmed to clean on your schedule, even if you aren’t home to do so.

Evercare Pet Plus Extreme Stick Ergo Grip Pet Lint Rollers, $11.99

A two pack of green lint rollers for pet hair

One last step to make sure you and your clothes are hair-free is to use a lint roller on your way out the door.

This value pack of Evercare rollers is great to have on hand, especially if you adopted some heavy shedders. They pick up about 50% more hair per sheet and come with 70 per roll, for 140 total between the two, found at

Credit: NYPOST

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