Thinking About Adopting a Cat?
When it came time to adopt both Eowyn and Monty I knew very well that we had to really search to find the right cat. Having gone through the adoption process before, I knew generally how things go, but I also knew that my lifestyle situation was very different than the last time I went to the humane society to get a cat. My first adoption took place with my family when I was home for the summer after my junior year of college. At that time, all my younger siblings were at home and we were introducing a kitten to a resident cat. My parents’ house is much larger and spacious than the apartment Tobias and I currently rent. He and I also have a dog. We couldn’t just pick any cat, and the last cat I had adopted with my family (her name is Zoe, by the way) is a really sweet cat, but she prefers socializing on her own terms and is not at all interested in interacting with a dog. We needed a patient, playful, laid-back, gentle, and social cat which is why we had chosen Monty, and then Eowyn. There are many things to consider when it comes to bringing a feline friend home:
Assess your lifestyle and living situation: This will tell you a lot about the kind of cat you should get. Do you have a high-energy dog with separation anxiety? Perhaps you should look for a playful, friendly, and confident kitten that can grow up looking at the dog as a companion rather than competition. Do you have an adult cat that you’d like to get a playmate? Think about a younger, laid-back, non-dominant cat or kitten that won’t rough around your resident cat and make them feel insecure. Live alone? Consider an older cat who just wants a loving, stable home. Do you have a full family? Maybe two kittens who are active and playful and are fun to watch grow up would be a good idea.
Do your research: Ask friends who have cats what it’s like being a cat owner. Figure out what care a cat requires. Learn about feline habits and behaviors. I strongly recommend watching My Cat From Hell or The Lion in the Living Room.
Be prepared: Get litter boxes (1 per cat plus one!), food dishes, brushes, nail clippers, and toys. Create a safe place for your cat to go to as it adapts to its new home. I’d hold off on picking up any food--it’s best to ask the shelter and your vet based on the individual history of the animal.
Choose a vet: It’s smart to have your cat in for a checkup within the first couple weeks to a month of their adoption date to check in on things. Most rescues have veterinary care, but especially in shelter situations where space is shared, you can never be too careful. It’s good to also be prepared and plan ahead on who your cat’s vet will be for regular shots and checkups, and in case they ever get sick. This way, you know exactly where you’re going if something were to come up.
Set up a safe place: Especially if you are introducing your cat to a home with other pets, this is especially important. Set up a room with all the essentials as well as a cozy spot and slowly acclimate your cat to your home. If you are introducing them to a cat or dog, follow recommended instructions from your vet and/or rescue that you adopted from.
Be picky: Search and browse around, meet as many cats as you need to. Be selective, and you’ll know in your gut when you find the right one.
Get your kitty a breakaway collar with identification: The likelihood is that your new kitty will come home already having been microchipped, and if they don’t, that is definitely something you should have your vet do. You should also get them a safe breakaway collar (so they don’t hurt themselves by getting caught on things) with their name and your phone number on it in case your new kitty gets out--especially if they are scared of their new environment and try to run away. The microchip will come in handy if they do ever lose their collar, as they can be scanned and your contact info will be held in the database of the microchip company.
Is everyone at home on board? No one should ever get a pet if the parties they live with aren’t on board or don’t know about the adoption. Enough animals don’t have homes already--don’t bring one home only to end up returning it. Many shelter animals have rough starts, and being returned can be very stressful for them.
Cats scratch: You shouldn’t declaw your cat as it can harm them mentally and physically. Be prepared that cats have claws and will scratch. Spray your furniture with scratching repellent, offer plenty of scratching posts, and keep kitty’s claws trimmed and you shouldn’t see damage. Remember--this is still an animal and some wear and tear should be expected.
Cats get lonely: These independently-spirited creatures definitely aren’t dogs, but they do grow fond of their human companions and will miss you when you are gone. Sure, some cats are more social than others, but don’t just get a cat because they’re easier to leave alone than a dog and then never be home--your cat wants to be around you.
You are responsible for this animal’s life: I don’t mean to sound morbid, but pets can get sick and veterinarian care does cost money. You never know what can happen, as we learned firsthand when our cat Monty suddenly passed away, and you should be financially prepared to pay for their care as well as mentally prepared to make decisions for them.
Monty took a longer time to adjust to our home. He hid and stayed out of the way for a week before he started hanging out with us in the apartment common areas and sleeping in our bed with us, and even then, his approach was gradual. Eowyn was ready to go right out of the gate. When you bring your cat home, let them acclimate on their terms. Be patient and try to read their signals and take their time if they need it.
When you’re looking for your feline friend, ask a lot of questions and continue to ask questions after you bring them home. Cats are great pets; they’re generally easy to take care of, provide endless hours of entertainment, and can be excellent companions. They’re the most popular pets in the United States, and all cat owners know why.
The Girl in the Unicorn Pajamas
PS: Looking to adopt in Madison, Wisconsin? Check out these awesome organizations: