Top 10 things to consider when adopting a cat

It’s ‘kitten season’ in the warmer months, which means shelters and pounds are at their busiest with unplanned and unwanted litters and filled to capacity.

For many, this makes it a wonderful time to add to your family by giving a cat or kitten a home.

If you are considering adopting a cat from a shelter and providing a cat in need with their second chance at love, health and happiness, our “top tips for adopting a cat from a shelter” will help.

Pre-adoption
1. Consider what type of cat will suit your home and family

There’s a lot to consider before adopting a cat or kitten and it’s important that you think about your lifestyle, other family members and pets so that you can choose a cat which is the right age and temperament to best suit your family unit.

Some of the questions you might like to consider are:

  • Do you live alone?
  • Do you work full -time?
  • Do you live in a house or apartment?
  • Do you go away often?
  • Do you have young children or older children?
  • Do you live in a share house? What other pets do you have?
  • Does any family member have allergies?

Mature cats can sleep 16 to 20 hours a day and are therefore the ideal pet for those who work full-time. Kittens are very active and require a lot more attention. And all cats have their own individual characteristics, whether it’s shy and timid or cheeky and outgoing, so it all comes down to the right fit and what you are looking for in a cat.

Read: Australia’s most popular dog breeds in 2021

It’s also important to consider any other pets and family members in the household and carefully plan how to integrate your newest addition to the family.

2. How can you best prepare your home for your new feline?
One of the very best ways that you can help a new cat or kitten settle into their forever home is to prepare a room that they can be confined within while they slowly adjust to their new surroundings, including other pets or family members.

Cats are extremely territorial, and they often feel uneasy coming into a new home.

Set up a small room such as a laundry with a cosy bed – igloo-style is perfect – kitty litter tray, scratching post or something elevated to play on, some toys, food and water.

Much like you would childproof your home for a toddler, scan your house for any hazards for cats. A scared cat will likely run off and hide, so ensure any spaces where your feline might get stuck are blocked off.

Another great tip for making your new feline feel at home are pheromone sprays or diffusers. Manufactured pheromone products, which you can buy from the Cat Protection Society Retail Store, mimic the scent glands in a cat’s neck and have a calming effect.

Read: Things you will only know if you are a cat person

It’s recommended that cats are always kept indoors away from other predators, and animals it can prey on such as local birdlife. If you want your cat to have some outdoor time, a good idea is to build an outdoor enclosure where it can safely roam.

3. Consider the cost of your new pet
Owning a kitten or cat is a long-term commitment, and it’s worth planning for any costs in advance to ensure your new pet is within your financial means. Some of the items you may need to buy at the outset include food bowls, collars, tags, litter and trays, grooming materials, toys, a bed, and a scratching post.

Ongoing costs will include food, litter, grooming materials and vet visits.

According to the Business Insider, the cost of owning a cat is around $1000 in the first year – but this could be more if you have any unexpected vet visits. It may be worth investigating pet insurance to determine if this would save you money in the long run.

“Adopting a cat in need is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it is important to remember that providing a home for a kitten or young cat is a commitment for its lifetime, which may be between 16 to 18 or more years,” says the Cat Protection Society of Victoria’s Lisa Aguis.

4. Adoption costs
Consider adoption costs and make sure they’re in your budget. Usually adoption costs include desexing, microchipping, current vaccination, worming and defleaing.

Read: Three ways to connect with your dog and lift your spirits

5. Find a good vet
Before you adopt a cat, visit and compare local vets and find one you feel comfortable with. You could also ask others in your area for recommendations.

Veterinary clinics can be intimidating places for any animal, but especially for cats when dogs are frequent visitors.

6. Understand local council requirements
You will need to register your adopted cat with your local council. Victorian legislation requires all dogs and cats over the age of three months to be registered with their local council and there are fines for not doing so. Councils vary with the number of cats/dogs you can own so you should check these with your local council prior to adopting. Fee reductions are available for seniors and desexed cats – which will apply to your adopted cat.

7. Visit your local shelter and spend time with the cats
Whether you are adopting a cat from the Cat Protection Society or another shelter or pound, it’s a good idea to spend some time getting to know the kittens and cats available. Try to bring the entire family when you are wanting to adopt – you really have to take your time and build a relationship with the cat. Get to know them by spending time with them at the shelter. You’ve got to feel a connection with the cat and feel the cat wants a connection with you. Let the cat pick you!

8. Ask lots of questions
Staff at animal shelters will usually spend time getting to know you to help you and your family choose the perfect cat for you. They will ask questions about your lifestyle, home-environment, family and previous experience owning a cat. This will help the team recommend the very best cat or kitten to suit your personal circumstances. You will then have the opportunity to meet, cuddle and play with these cats or kittens to see which one you or your family bond with best.

Lisa Aguis is the shelter manager at the Cat Protection Society of Victoria, a not-for-profit animal welfare organisation committed to working with the community to ensure that every cat has the opportunity for a loving, safe and healthy home. With an adoption shelter, a feline dedicated veterinary clinic, retail shop and café, the society relies entirely on the kindness of donations, legacies and memberships for its day-to-day existence and to ensure they can provide the highest levels of care to cats in need. Visit www.catprotection.com.au.

Have you ever adopted a kitten from a pet shelter? What is your favourite thing about your pet? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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