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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My little girl passed over rainbow bridge. I think I’m ready for another cat, but I worry about bringing her home with my previous kitty’s things around. Her scratcher, bowls, carrier, toys, and litter box: won’t they smell like my other cat ? Should I destroy the old things or can I use them?

~ Mary

Siouxsie: Wow, it’s great that you asked this question, Mary! It shows you really love and care about cats and you want to make sure that any cat lucky enough to share your home  feels comfortable there.

Thomas: There are a couple of things we wouldn’t reuse — food dishes and the litter box. The reason for this is that these are a cat’s most important “possessions.” If you want to make sure your new cat feels welcomed and safe in your home, buy new dishes and a cat box.

Bella: Litter boxes should be replaced regularly, anyway. As you know, we scratch and dig in our boxes, and our claws can make marks on the plastic of the box.

Siouxsie: Combine these scratches and what ends up in the litter box, and even if you regularly clean it with bleach, those micro-scratches are going to be breeding grounds for bacteria and other yuckies.

Thomas: You certainly can reuse your cat carrier, but please be sure to clean it thoroughly before inviting your new kitty to use it.

Bella: Mama reused Dahlia’s old carrier for me, and I feel totally comfortable in it.

Siouxsie: If your cat’s beds are washable and your cat wasn’t extremely ill before she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, you can reuse the bed if you wash it first. If the bed isn’t washable, we’d recommend replacing it.

Thomas: In fact, you may even want to add a totally new bed so your new cat has some choices about where she sleeps.

Bella: As far as your previous cat’s scratcher goes, as long as it’s in good shape, there shouldn’t be a problem with reusing it. Be sure you encourage your new cat to use the scratch post; that way he or she will be able to mark it with her own scent.

Siouxsie: With toys, we’re not so sure. Interactive toys are fine to reuse, but we’d recommend getting your new cat a variety of solo play toys that he or she can baptize with her own scent. And get a few different types of toys so you can find out what kinds your new cat likes best.

Thomas: That said, Mary, Mama doesn’t throw away all our toys when she brings a new cat home. But the thing is, when one of us crosses the Bridge, there are still kitties in the house who are used to those toys and beds.

Bella: One thing we haven’t discussed is the human psychological factor. Some people feel the need to start totally fresh when they bring a new cat into their home after a former furry friend has passed away — not to forget about the cat friend who shared their lives, but to allow the new kitty to be her true self without any associations with sadness and grief.

Siouxsie: If you do decide you want to start fresh, we’d recommend that you consider donating your former cat’s beds and scratcher to an animal shelter — again, as long as your former kitty didn’t die from a potentially contagious illness.

Thomas: If you do this, please be sure that anything you give the shelter is clean, sanitized and in good shape. No shelter wants donations of broken things and garbage. And don’t donate the litter box; that’s going to have to go in the garbage or recycling.

Bella: Mary, we’re so sorry for your loss. We know how hard it is for you humans when you lose a cat friend — Thomas and Siouxsie comforted Mama after two of the most heartbreaking losses she’s ever experienced and it took all their feline powers to help her get through her grief!

Siouxsie: And congratulations on being ready to welcome a new furry friend into your home.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you kept your previous cat’s belongings for a new cat, or do you start completely fresh? Share your thoughts in the comments.