You know cat adoption is in your near future. But where will you find a cat, and how will you know the cat is right for you? The last part is easy. When you find the right cat, you’ll just know. You’ll feel that almost magical connection with the cat who’s meant to be your friend for life.
But before you begin your search for that special someone, think about the qualities you want in a forever friend. Here’s a checklist.
My Perfect Cat Is
☐ A lap cat
☐ A lovebug
☐ A buddy who will sit near me and go for walks with me
☐ Indepent and self-sufficient
☐ Strictly indoors
☐ Garage or barn cat
☐ Active, a real livewire
☐ Couch potato and bed buddy
☐ Loves to be brushed
☐ Long hair
☐ Medium hair
☐ Short hair
☐ Calico or tortoiseshell
☐ Kitten (please adopt two!)
☐ Mature adult
☐ Likes dogs
☐ Likes other cats
☐ Is good with kids
If you plan on keeping your cat strictly indoors, adopt a cat who has never been outside. It’s a myth that indoor/outdoor and outdoor cats get used to living strictly indoors. Most don’t and can develop litter box and other behavior problems because they’re so frustrated and unhappy with their new lifestyle.
7 Things To Consider Before Adopting A Cat
You’ve been thinking about it for ages, and now you’re finally ready. You want to adopt a cat. But while adopting a cat should be fun, it’s also a long-term commitment. Cats form strong bonds with their family members, and rehoming a cat is always painful and sad. To avoid heartbreak for you and the cat, try to answer these questions honestly before bringing that new family member home. They’re written through the eyes of a rescuer who has had the joy of placing hundreds of cats in new homes and the sadness of trying to help even more “owner give-ups” avoid going to shelters.
- Are you prepared to make a long-term commitment? Did you know the average lifespan of a cat is 16 years, and many live even longer?
- Does everyone in your family want a cat? If not, it would be best to enjoy the company of cats as a volunteer for a rescue or shelter. The cat’s not going to be happy living with someone who hates her!
- What will you do if you fall head over heels in love with someone who doesn’t like cats or is allergic to them? Give this one serious thought. If “give up the cat” pops into your head, it would be better to foster than adopt.
- What will you do if you have to move? Cats can be good travelers and can adjust to a new home as long as their people are there, too. If you’d leave the cat behind, adoption is probably not for you. This is especially true of military families facing frequent overseas deployments. If you think you might be stationed someplace where you can’t have your cat, consider fostering instead of adopting.
- Can you afford a cat? To be healthy, a cat needs wet food as well as, or instead of, dry. And in addition to food, the cat will need medical care, especially as s/he gets older. There’s nothing sadder than having to “put a cat to sleep” because there’s no money for medical care. Investing in pet insurance or setting up a separate savings account for veterinary care could save your cat’s life someday.
- Are your furniture and carpeting right up there at the top of your list of things you care about most? It’s natural for a cat to scratch and accidents happen, especially as a cat ages. Are you willing to think of scratching pads and tall, stable scratching posts as essential pieces of furniture? Will you be able be patient and seek solutions to litter box issues if your cat suddenly stops using his box? These questions deserve serious thought, too.
- Do you have time for a cat? While it’s true that cats are “solitary hunters” and self-sufficient enough to keep themselves happily occupied for long stretches of time, they also enjoy human companionship. Will you have time every day to pet a cat and play and brush? Cats are creatures of habit and love predictable schedules and routines. Does your lifestyle allow enough flexibility to create a routine with a cat?
A cat will be as much a part of your family as your partner and kids are and will deserve as much of a commitment of time, energy and love. Before you adopt a cat, think about whether you are willing and able to make that commitment now and for many years to come.
Where To Find Your Perfect Cat?
- The adoption websites are a good way to begin your search. Most rescues and shelters list their cats on Adoptapet.com and Petfinder.com. Many public shelters also list their cats on Petharbor.com.
- Public shelters are rarely no-kill, so if you adopt a cat from one, you’ll be saving a life. Be careful about your choice, though. If you make the wrong decision and return the cat, her life will be in danger again. Look at the cats who have been there the longest first. They’re usually the ones who are at most risk.
- Rescue Groups usually know their cats very well and can help you make a good match. Be prepared to pay an adoption fee, complete an application, sign a contract and provide references that will be checked. While you may feel like the group is asking you to jump through a lot of hoops just to adopt a cat, remember that the rescue probably worked very hard to save the cat’s life. They just want to be sure that she’ll be happy and that her new home really will be forever.
- Breed rescues are the best place to look if you want a purebred cat. The rescue can tell you everything you need to know about the breed, including potential health issues and other idiosyncrasies. Check with local breeders, too. They might have retired show cats who are up for adoption.
- Craig’s List almost seems like a dumping ground for unwanted cats and kittens, although rescues and shelters put their cats on Craig’s List, too. If you adopt a cat on Craig’s List or from the newspaper classifieds, be sure to ask a lot of questions first. What is the real reason the people are giving the cat up? If the cat is being rehomed because of behavior issues, will your house really be quieter and less stressful? The transition to a new home will be less stressful if the cat’s “ex” brings her to you. Ask for her dishes, litter box, bed and other things that smell like home. All those familiar possessions will be reassuring to her in her new environment.
About “stray” cats: Sometimes the best cats are the ones who find you. But before you take in a stray cat and make her yours, leave no stone unturned in trying to find her family. Most cats found outside are not dumped or abandoned. They’re lost and want nothing more than to go home.
When Your New Cat Comes Home
Adjusting to a new home can be very difficult for a cat, so be patient. It can take a cat days, weeks, or even months to get used to her new home. This is especially true of older cats who have gone from their original homes to new ones. They don’t understand why their world has been turned inside out, and they’re often confused and depressed.
Although you’re eager for the cat to become part of the family, let her do things on her own schedule. If she wants to hide, don’t force her to come out before she’s ready. Make sure she has access to food and a litter box close to her hiding place where she feels safe and comfortable. She’s not going to hide forever!
While she’s hiding, sit on the floor and talk to her. Tell her how happy you are that she’s living with you now and how much you love her. Try playing with her with a wand or fishing pole toy, or give her some treats every time you visit her.
Bach Flower Remedies can take the edge off her stress and help her adjust more quickly. Good choices are Rescue Remedy and Walnut. I like to put a few drops of the remedy on a fingertip and rub it into the fur on the top of the cat’s head a few times a day.
For the first week or so, give her the food she ate in her old home or the shelter. She’ll eat better if she has the food she’s used to, and you can transition her gradually to the brand you want to feed to avoid stomach upset.