Wondering how to adopt a cat and set your new pet up for success? If you’re considering adding a new feline friend to your household, there are many things to consider. Don’t rush to the nearest adoption agency without reading these tips that show you how to adopt a cat in 5 easy steps.
Consider the Kind of Cat You Need
All cats are worthy of love, but not all cats will fit into your lifestyle, your home, and your schedule. It’s important to consider a few factors before heading out to adopt a cat:
- The needs of kittens vs. adult cats
- Activity levels
- Other pets and people in the home
- Mobility or health issues
Decide If You Want to Adopt a Cat or Kitten
Kittens are a completely different ball game from adult cats. There are some benefits to adopting a kitten – namely, that you can train them more easily and they tend to have less history than adult cats. But kittens are also much wilder and more energetic than adult cats and require more of your time and attention to adjust to life in your home. With a kitten, you’ll need to plan for litter box training and more regular vet visits for the first year.
You also might not expect some of the personality developments you’ll see as the kitten matures. Even with proper training, your kitten might grow into a cat that doesn’t like dogs or babies – which could present a problem if you already have a pet or child in your household. Adult cats are still playful and fun but can make calmer companions. You might even consider a senior cat, especially if you want a more relaxed lap cat that likes to chill.
Some Cats Need More Attention and Action Than Others
Many folks think of cats as low-maintenance animals, and while that’s generally true when they are compared to dogs, all cats are different. Some cats will need consistent daily attention and focused play to stay happy and healthy, while others will be content relaxing alone for most of the day.
Your ability to focus on your cat and give them the appropriate amount of attention needs to be a foremost consideration when you enter into an adoption. If you work in the office from 9 to 5 every day and tend to travel on the weekends, you don’t want to get a cat who has a history of separation anxiety or a hyperactive cat with significant exercise needs. Likewise, if you work from home or have a large, busy household and want to have a sociable, companionable pet, you shouldn’t adopt a cat who is aloof and disinterested.
Cats Will Have Varying Attitudes About Other People and Pets
When adopting a cat, you need to consider the people and other pets in your household. Some cats will be intolerant of dogs or even other cats, and others might even be fearful of certain types of people (such as men or children) specifically. An adopted cat's history will influence their feelings about your specific household, so consider any other members of your family when deciding what kind of cat will best fit into your home.
On the other hand, some cats will need additional stimulation from people and possibly a companion cat. These pets might be depressed or anxious if they are in a house with only one owner. Adoption counselors can offer up information like this and help you find a good fit, but it’s important to consider your situation before you start looking to adopt a cat.
Mobility or Health Issues Can Impact the Cost of Cat Adoption and Care
A cat’s physical health is also a consideration when you are deciding what kind of cat will fit into your home and lifestyle. A senior cat with mobility issues might struggle in a three-story home but would do well in a single-story apartment. Also, if a cat has existing health conditions like kidney problems or skin problems, caring for them might be more expensive and time-consuming. While a cat’s health history shouldn’t deter you from adopting if you fall in love with a particular cat, you should be prepared for the additional care they might require.
Learn About Local Cat Adoption Agencies
Once you’ve decided the kind of cat you are looking for, the next step in how to adopt a cat is learning about the local adoption agencies in your area. These may be rescues, humane societies, or smaller local organizations. Here are some important things to remember when searching for places to adopt:
- Check the reviews for anywhere you plan to adopt
- Don’t rush the process
Not All Adoption Organizations Are the Same
It’s important to look up reviews and general public opinion about any adoption agency or rescue organization before choosing to adopt with them. While most nonprofits in the animal welfare space are doing great work, there are some that are more trustworthy than others. Do your research beforehand so you don’t get embroiled with a group that isn’t actually promoting cat welfare.
The support provided by adoption groups will also vary and might influence your choice of who to work with. Some agencies provide extensive support in the form of food, toys, and even a microchip and a few veterinary visits or vaccines. Others send you home with your cat and leave it all up to you. It’s worth calling around and finding out what kind of support is provided for new cat parents when you’re thinking about how to adopt a cat.
Don’t Rush the Cat Adoption Process
Adopting a cat takes time, and learning about the agencies is an important part of the process. You’re probably eager to get your new cat into your home and snuggled into your arms, but it’s crucial that you invest time up front to make sure you’re approaching cat adoption in an ethical and effective way.
You would never want to support an organization that wasn’t caring properly for cats, or bring home a cat that you ultimately can’t care for. Avoid those outcomes by taking your time and researching adoption agencies thoroughly.
Prepare Your Home with Supplies and Cat-Proofing
You’ll need to take a few steps to prepare your home for your newly adopted cat. This all needs to happen before your cat arrives in their new space:
- Set up a litter box area
- Decide on a cat food and feeding plan
- Get cat accessories and grooming supplies
- Cat-proof your house
Your Indoor Cat Will Need a Litter Box
Keeping your kitty indoors will lead to a longer healthier life for your feline friend, so you’ll need to choose a litter box and the type of litter you want to use. There are several choices for both litter box designs and types of litter, so do some research to find out what you think will work best for you. You’ll also need to choose where to keep the litter box – most people choose to place it in a bathroom, mud room, or another area with tile flooring to make for easy clean-up.
Food and Feeding Will Be an Important Part of Your Cat’s Daily Schedule
Choosing a healthy cat food for your new cat is an important part of the “how to adopt a cat” process. You should also get feeding tools like food and water bowls or a moving water fountain (some cats are more inclined to drink from running water sources). You’ll also want to decide on a firm feeding schedule and make sure everyone in the family is on board with when the cat gets fed and how much.
Gather All Your Cat’s Accessories Before They Arrive
Beyond food supplies and a litter box, your cat will need toys to keep them entertained, a collar and ID tag, a place to sleep, a cat tower and/or scratching post to keep their nails healthy, and grooming supplies like nail clippers, a toothbrush, and a hairbrush. You will also need to invest in a properly sized carrier for transporting your cat to and from the veterinarian.
Make Sure Your Home Is Safe for Your New Cat
You might not realize there are some hidden dangers to your new cat lurking in your house. There are many house plants that can be toxic to pets, so ensure they are well out of reach or removed completely. You might also need to secure certain pieces of furniture or decorations – cats tend to bounce off of everything and might knock over a precariously placed chair or vase. You might also want to hide exposed wires, as cats tend to chew on those, which can be dangerous.
Set a Clear Routine with Your Cat at the Beginning
Another way to set up your new cat for success is by establishing a clear routine at the outset. Each day, meals should come at consistent times. Play should also be scheduled, as well as treats. This will keep your cat from complaining all day for their food and playtime. Routines are crucial to keeping your cat comfortable and stress-free.
Meet Your Cat’s New Veterinarian
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, you should have a veterinarian clinic chosen before you pick up your cat. You will need to see your veterinarian immediately so they can start building a relationship with your cat. The sooner you can establish regular veterinary visits, the better for your pet’s health and comfort. Don’t wait until something is wrong to go see your cat’s new veterinarian. Even if your cat lives indoors, annual exams are crucial to keeping them healthy and happy.
Helpful hint: If the place you adopt your cat from has not done so already, make sure to get your cat microchipped at their first veterinary visit and always keep your contact information current. Even if your cat will be indoors or wear a collar and tag (which can easily be removed or lost), a microchip is a permanent form of identification that can help you be reunited if your cat ever gets lost.
Successful Cat Adoption Is About Preparedness
Now you know how to adopt a cat and ensure they will adjust well to their new home. Cats are a wonderful addition to the family, but they are also a responsibility. It’s important that you set them – and yourself – up for success before adoption.