Preparing to Adopt a Cat or Kitten

Cat Tales

Adopting a cat from a shelter or rescue is a rewarding and joyful experience for you and your new pet. To increase the odds that the adoption will “stick” think about your lifestyle, living arrangements and family characteristics, and learn as much as you can about cat behavior beforehand.

Temperament and personality are more important than looks. All cats and kittens are not alike. Some are shy, some are nosy. Some like other cats and/or dogs and some don’t. Your perfect cat is the one that fits your household’s temperament and environment the best.

How much time do you have to spend with your new pet? Kittens take more energy than an older cat, but all cats need mental stimulation to keep boredom at bay. Toys need not be expensive – a crumpled up newspaper ball is noisy and can be batted or shredded. A sturdy shoelace can be a ‘snake’ to stalk, pounce on and carry away. If you travel often or are away most of the day, consider adopting two cats who get along with each other so that they can keep each other company.

Be open minded when visiting a shelter or rescue. Shelters can be particularly stressful for cats. A cat who seems afraid and hides in the shelter may be a friendly outgoing pet once he is out of that environment. Talk to the shelter staff. Most take a complete history of the animals that are surrendered and quickly get to know even those who are brought in as strays by grooming and playing with them.

If you are looking to add to an existing pet family, think about arranging a pre-adoption visit between the potential adoptee and your current pets if possible. This is also a good time for the rest of the family to come along, too. This simple step can eliminate heart-wrenching problems in the future should it be obvious that everyone will have trouble getting along. Learn all you can to understand cat behavior. Cats should NEVER be declawed, but that doesn’t mean that you have to suffer with ruined furniture. Cats scratch to remove their outer nail sheaths and to leave visual and scent markers. Scratching is also a good form of exercise for them. Provide your cat with tall, textured scratching posts so that they can
stretch out while scratching. Sprinkle it with cat nip to make it more enticing and reward them with praise and a treat for using it. If you make the scratching post more attractive than your couch, they will use it.

Cats are notoriously clean animals that groom themselves often, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush or comb them. In fact, grooming your cat is a good way to bond with them. Do some research to find and use the most appropriate comb or brush for your cat’s coat. There are special tools for long haired cats who are particularly prone to itchy mats if they stop grooming due to age or illness. Getting your cat used to a short daily grooming session will reward you with less shedding (and hairballs) and them with a clean tangle free coat.

Litter boxes matter! Many experts recommend having one litter box per cat and if you have more than one floor, it’s a good idea to have at least one litter box on each level. We scoop our box at least three times a day – once in the morning, once when we get home from work and once before bed. And often, if we know it’s been used while we’re nearby we scoop it again. After all, you wouldn’t want to use a toilet that was flushed once a week, would you?

Finally, cats should have regular vet visits for vaccinations, a routine annual exam and dental checkups, just like dogs. Make sure you plan and budget for annual veterinary bills and save a little extra in case of any medical emergencies. Learn more about preparing in advance for vet bills here.

There are many great, deserving cats available at GCAS. Click here to view the animals that are currently available.