The holiday season is drawing to a close and peace and quiet is once again coming to your life and your home. Maybe it’s time to fulfill that promise and take a family member — or maybe just yourself — to the animal shelter and find a feline companion to grace your life. Here are some tips to help make your adoption experience as wonderful as possible, for both the cat and you.
1. Don’t judge a cat by his color
You may go into the shelter thinking that the cat you want is, say, a male tuxedo cat with long fur, which may cause you to turn a blind eye to the cat who really clicks with you. Keep an open mind and an open heart, and your perfect friend will come to you.
2. Personality and lifestyle are important
Looks aren’t everything, but personality definitely counts for a lot. Many shelters use the ASPCA’s Meet Your Match Feline-Ality survey to help you get a better idea of what cats would be a good match for you. Talk to the shelter staff about your lifestyle and what kind of cat you’d like to have in your life. If you’re very social and you often have visitors at your home, you’ll want to look for a laid-back cat who won’t flinch at the comings and goings. If you work a lot, you may not have the time to do the daily grooming a long-haired cat requires.
3. Be prepared to fill out an application
No matter what shelter you go to, you will have to fill out an adoption application. These are generally two to three pages long and not very invasive. The most important parts to be prepared for are the vet reference and the landlord reference, so have those individuals’ phone numbers handy. If you rent, the shelter will contact your landlord or building manager to be sure you are allowed to have cats. Shelter staff will contact your veterinarian to see if your current pets are up to date on their vaccinations and get regular health care.
4. If you have room, bring home a bonded pair
Some cats become very close friends. They may be siblings or buddies who were given up together, or they may have met for the first time at the shelter and became fast friends. Breaking up a bonded pair can harm both cats — after all, cats grieve, too — and it’s just not kind. Some rescues will give an adoption fee discount if you adopt a bonded pair, too.
5. Consider adopting an adult cat
Adult cats have a lot to recommend them. They’re over the “kitten crazies” and are much less likely to chew your phone charger wire, knock your wine glass onto the floor, climb curtains, and otherwise wreak havoc. Adults’ personalities are pretty much fully formed, so you’ll have a much better idea of your potential family member’s disposition. Well-cared-for indoor cats can live to age 16 or 17 (or much longer), so you’ll be able to enjoy many happy years with a grown-up kitty.
6. Give children age-appropriate cat-care chores
It’s unrealistic to expect that your 8-year-old child will remember to clean the litter box every day without being prompted, or that your 5-year-old will be able to tell you that kitty didn’t eat her breakfast and isn’t looking well. As an adult, the ultimate responsibility for the cat’s care and well-being is yours, so be prepared to monitor your children, give them developmentally appropriate chores, and ensure that they do those chores.
7. Have fun!
Whether you’re playing together with a feather toy or snuggling together after a long day at the office, life with a cat can be truly wonderful. The work and forethought you do before you adopt a cat will go a long way toward ensuring that you have a long, wonderful, and fulfilling life together.
What other advice would you give to someone thinking about adopting a cat? Please share your tips in the comments!