Cat owner starter kit

Claudia is getting a kitten, and knowing that I have three cats, she asked me for recommendations on things to buy. Here they are: Boxiecat Premium Clumping Clay Cat Litter is nearly dustless and not perfumed. I’ve tried many different kinds of cat litter and this is the best. PetLovers Extra Sticky Lint Rollers are a necessity. Our cats use the Ultimate Scratching Post about 50 times a day. They no longer scratch upholstery, as they find the scratching post more satisfying. Cosmic Catnip Cat Toys come in a variety of shapes. They play with them, bliss out, and roll around on the floor for about ten minutes. They will lose interest if you leave the toys out, so it’s better to hide them and give them to your cats as an infrequent treat. Cats never seem to get frustrated about not being able to catch a laser pointer dot. My cats get really excited when they hear me open the drawer where we store our laser pointer and they will run into the room and start meowing and looking around wildly for the red dot. The DuraScoop Jumbo Cat Litter Scoop is made from cast aluminum and looks like an Art Deco collectible. It’s very sturdy and makes cleaning the cat litter much less unpleasant. — MF

HouseholdClaudia Dawson
Home safety

I just purchased our fourth Nest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm for our home. As our old Home Depot smoke alarms go kaput one by one, I have replaced them with the more expensive, but superior, Nest. They seem to last longer, are smarter, less annoying, and are networked via wifi. In theory (no actual disasters yet), each Nest will broadcast a concern it detects to all the others, so a fire in my downstairs home office would be announced in a message by the Nest in our living room. It also sends alerts to my phone if I am away. — KK

HouseholdClaudia Dawson
Silverfish solution

For years we’ve had silverfish darting around our guest bathroom. I bought some silverfish traps (little cardboard boxes with sticky goo to ensnare them) and those helped, but didn’t stop them. A few weeks ago I read that lavender oil is a good silverfish repellent. It’s only $8 for a small bottle on Amazon, so I decided to give it a try. I wetted the end of a Q-Tip with the oil and ran it around the perimeter of the bathroom floor, adding a little extra to the seam between the floor and the wall. It smelled nice and we did not see a single silverfish for two weeks. When I finally saw one, I reapplied lavender oil on the perimeter of the floor and haven’t seen any since. — MF

HouseholdClaudia Dawson
Best Christmas trees

For the past decade I’ve found the place to get least expensive decent-sized real Christmas trees is at the local Home Depot. The trees are wrapped up commodities. I don’t even bother unwrapping them to inspect them before I toss one into the car; they are all extremely uniform. I haven’t been disappointed. — KK

HouseholdClaudia Dawson
DIY cleaner spray

We’ve been making our own cleaner spray for years. It’s mainly water with rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and corn starch. It cuts right through grease, smells much better than commercial cleaners, and costs less than 50 cents a gallon. The recipe is called the “Alvin Corn Homemade Glass Cleaner” and is posted here. — MF

HouseholdClaudia Dawson
Cheap bedside alarm

I bought this small $10 clock so I could avoid looking at my phone in the morning. The alarm is progressive and the ticking is as close to silent as possible. There’s a button to illuminate the time in the dark that also doubles as a snooze button. Perfectly simple and useful. — CD

HouseholdClaudia Dawson
Eternal clocks

The strange American habit of switching hours twice a year for Daylight Savings is a real bummer if you have wall clocks. Glancing at a clock, BTW, is a lot more handy than pulling out a phone. The solution to Daylight Savings hassle is to get an “atomic radio” wall clock which uses radio signals from government atomic clocks to keep perfect time and update themselves during seasonal changes. They come in analog or digital varieties. For several decades we’ve used La Crosse analog atomic clocks (about $22) in our kitchen and office for constant precise time and never need to think about them. — KK

HouseholdClaudia Dawson