June is American Humane’s Adopt-a-Cat-Month and the ASPCA’s Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. It’s also the middle of kitten season, during which many felines enter shelters across the country. It may be the perfect time to adopt, but information is crucial in making a good decision about bringing home a cat. Here are some considerations.
When adopting, you’ll be saving the life of your new companion as well as those of other incoming shelter pets. Most shelters spay/neuter, microchip, and administer initial vaccines, sparing you those responsibilities.
The first matter to consider is how well a cat will fit into your home and life. You’ll want to bring home a cat whose age, size, and temperament fit your lifestyle so you’ll both be happy. Talk with adoption staff at the shelter about your needs and expectations. Based on their knowledge and experience with felines in their care, they can help match you with the perfect pet.
Avoid adopting a cat (or any other animal) for someone else without their involvement. This often leads to pet surrenders. Gifting a pet to a loved one is a great idea, but only if the recipient approves beforehand.
When you adopt a kitten, consider adopting two at the same time if you can. A pair of kittens can help each other navigate their new world and learn proper behavior. They’ll also keep each other company when their human isn’t available. If you already have a cat at home, a pair may be less likely to bother them than a single kitten would. They may also be more likely to harmonize than if introduced at different times in their lives.
Introduction to a resident pet requires time, patience, and caution to reduce conflicts. Current and new pets need to be apart in the beginning. They should be eased into familiarity before freely socializing. The Humane Society has an in-depth guide to introducing new cats to other pets.
Before adopting, commit to the level of care cats need. Many people believe cats don’t require as much attention and maintenance as dogs do. This is false. Like dogs, cats require time and energy from their caretakers. Cats need mental and physical stimulation. Lack of it can lead to depression, obesity, and consequential illnesses. Daily playtime and regular interaction are necessary for a cat’s well-being.
Also necessary are regular visits to the veterinarian clinic. Cats are notorious for hiding disease and pain. Owners must watch closely for any physical or behavioral changes and commit to wellness exams and vaccinations. Before adopting, research and choose a veterinarian. If possible, make an initial wellness appointment.
Plan to create life-long habits that benefit a cat’s health from as early on as possible. This includes brushing teeth, grooming, and familiarizing them with having their feet and mouth touched.
Before bringing your cat home, ready your space. Collect all supplies and cat-proof your home. You’ll need a litter pan, food and water dishes, toys, scratchers, a travel crate, and food and litter. Go through each room knowing anything in view is a potential meal or plaything. Think about food on countertops, flowers in vases, medication on sinks, open garbage cans, window blind cords . . . etcetera.
Also, be aware that kittens are exuberant. They play hard and fast and will run, jump, and climb over all surfaces at various hours of the day and night. Fear not, this stage passes as kittens mature.
All cats, no matter the age, need space and patience while exploring new surroundings. Set up a quiet room or area with their belongings and a corner or box that serves as a hiding spot.
Cats are remarkable creatures and make great companions. Saving a shelter animal and providing them with a safe and happy home is always a noble undertaking. However, it’s vital to be as prepared as possible before bring home a new pet. For the easiest transition, know what to expect. Then ready yourself, your home, and other members of your household.