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Adopting a New Cat

Updated on April 1, 2015

You have decided that you want to open your heart and home to a new addition to the family. That's great! But before you do, there are several aspects to consider.

First, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. Are you positive that you can give the cat a good and safe life at your home? Are cats allowed in your house/apartment? Are you financially stable enough to care for a cat? Is your home secure--will you have to move into a new place that may not allow him/her? If you have considered all of these questions and are sure you are able to give a cat love, attention, care, and affection then hooray!

Where to Adopt
The first place you should look up is to see if there are any high kill shelters in your area. They are often run by the county or state, and are often times not allowed to say no to taking in new animals. So if they are at capacity, they must put some down to make room. It is an awful concept but true, so if you have the opportunity to adopt from a no kill shelter or rescue, or a kill shelter, my advice is to do the latter because not only are you directly saving the life of the cat you adopt, but you are saving another animal who will get the chance to utilize the free cage that exists now. Do not get me wrong, animal rescues and no kill shelters are THE BEST. In fact, I have an animal rescue of my own. But before people come to me to adopt I ALWAYS tell them to check the local county shelter first. I know the kitties at my rescue are taken care of and are not at risk for euthanasia due to overpopulation. For the love of the kitties it is always better to give a cat in a high kill shelter the chance that they may not otherwise receive.

If you do not have the option to adopt from a high kill shelter, by all means adopt from a rescue--they deserve a second chance to have a good home too! Rescues usually consist of volunteers who work countless hours to ensure the kitties are properly cared for. They travel thousands of miles, use their own gas, mileage, cars, crates, money, and time to save kitties from around the world. They run fundraisers, become their own advertisers, spend hours outside at all hours of the day and night to do anything they can to save a cat. They help cats who otherwise have no other place to go. They take money out of their own pockets to pay vet bills to ensure the best proper health and care for the cats. So supporting them is never a bad option either!

What type of cat should I adopt?
Beyond the breed, there are many different types of cats that can be adopted. There are very young kittens who are just learning to walk and eat on their own. These kittens require a lot of love, attention, and socialization. Although cats are independent creatures by nature, it is up to you to socialize a kitten to adopt traits that you want him/her to have. First, you have to be careful of items around the house that can be potentially dangerous to cats--small items that they can eat, small spaces they can get stuck in, high places they can fall off of and harm themselves. Next, do you want him to be a lapcat? Playful? Affectionate? Have a good temperament? This will require some time on your part. You must be willing to spend time with your kitten to help his/her development. If you play with your kitten when she is small, she will probably be more likely to be playful as she grows. If you spend time with her every day..petting her, holding her, giving her attention, she will be much more likely to be a lapcat, more social, less shy, and affectionate. If you do not have the time, it is best you get an older cat that has already developed more of a personality and will not require as much socialization.
Adopting a young cat, ages 1-2 is a good alternative to a kitten. These kittens have already adopted many traits that make them unique. They are usually still very playful but do not require as much time and attention as kittens. They are generally good cats to get when you have children, although please make sure to teach them the proper way to approach, pet, and care for a cat for both your children and cat's safety. These cats are young enough to learn to grow up with children and will help them learn to get used to noise, little fingers, and gentle roughness. Adult cats are great for many reasons. They are more independent, have already developed a pretty consistent personality (so you can quickly determine their temperament), have usually already had their shots and have a stronger immune system (some diseases are seen more common in younger cats), and generally do not require a whole lot of attention. This does not mean that they should not be socialized; it simply means that they do not require as much attention or dependence as younger cats do. They are not adopted as quickly as kittens and younger cats. Adult cats are often released by their owners to the shelters--for reasons such as: they are moving, suddenly became allergic, had a baby, got a new dog [or cat] and they did not get along, they got a new roommate who does not like cats, etc. They usually have already had a home but it was taken from them, or have never had a home and survived on their own in the outside world their whole lives. So by giving them a home you really are giving them a second chance at life. Senior cats are more gentile. They are great for older (but independent) people looking to add some affection and companionship into their lives. They are also good for people who want a more calm cat. They make wonderful, wonderful pets and they usually have a very sweet and gentle temperament. It would be so wonderful if you were able to adopt a senior cat to live out his/her golden years in a comfortable stress-free environment. These cats are usually not best for homes with young children, young cats, or dogs (unless they have previously lived with dog) just to ensure a more calm environment.

What type of environment does a cat prosper in?
Cats generally do not need a TON of space. They do not have to get as much exercise as dogs (in fact, they sleep about 16 hours a day) and they are usually perfectly comfortable in a moderately small apartment/house as long as they have their own areas to rest in. They like to be able to get away from people if needed, and often climb on top of furniture, under beds, and in small dark spaces. As long as it is safe for them, it is fine for them to be there. They like to look out the window and have their own food dishes, water bowls, beds, toys, and space of course. I do not recommend keeping a cat in one small room since they like to explore and get away on their own sometimes, but as long as you have a decent sized space (a one bedroom apartment is fine for a cat) and a warm item for them to sleep on, (a cat bed, a bag, a blanket, your clothes!) you are golden!

Although cats love to explore the outdoors, it is dangerous and they should ideally be kept indoors. They have cat leashes (seriously) and enclosures that you can provide for them to be outside in a safe manner. But letting them roam free in the neighborhood can be a dangerous endeavor. They sometimes can get lost, hit by a car, get injured by another animal, or catch diseases or infections from other animals. If possible, keep your cat indoors for the safest approach.

Supplies you need before you adopt
1. A box. That's it. Just kidding, =) but they really do love boxes.
2. A litter box and litter; a scooper (optional) *litter boxes should be changed at least 1-2 times a week*
3. A warm bed, blanket, pillowcase, towel, or piece of clothing that they can call their own
4. Cat food (both wet and dry)
5. Their own food and water dish (even if you already have one for another animal you have)
6. Cat treats (this will help the bonding process, and helps control tartar--win win!)
7. Toys (they love balls, anything with strings, catnip toys)

Congratulations on welcoming a new addition to your family. Cats really are wonderful, fanciful, amazing, independent companions that will be sure to brighten your days. They help teach children the importance of responsibility, caring for another being, independence, companionship, and compassion. They bring joy and companionship to adults and kids alike, and are sure to make you smile each and every day.


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