Why You Should Consider Adopting a Cat from an Animal Shelter
When you adopt a cat, you don't just gain a best friend; you could also be saving their life. With so many wonderful felines to choose from, getting a cat from an animal shelter makes so much sense.
Are Shelter Cats Problem Cats?
Not even close! A cat often ends up at animal shelters through no fault of their own. In fact, the most common reasons involve their former parents. They may be moving to a new home where a cat isn't allowed or going through lifestyle changes, such as a new baby or a spouse who is allergic to cats. Illness or passing of a pet parent is another unfortunate reason why a cat may end up in a shelter.
Most of the time, it's through simply unlucky circumstances. Whatever the case, most shelters gladly reveal the reason why a particular cat is up for adoption and can give advice on how to best integrate a potential pet into your home.
Why Adopt from a Shelter?
Cats in need of a new home are often the perfect choice for first-time pet parents. Most of these cats have already lived inside, and therefore know the routines of a household. Animal shelters provide a wide range of cats to choose from, allowing you to find a shorthair, tabby cat, male, female—whatever attributes your heart desires.
Many shelters also take note of the temperament of resident cats and keep a record of information for owner-surrendered animals. They then use this information to help you find your best match. Knowing what to expect, or at least what a given cat has been exposed to in the past, is another great benefit of adopting an adult cat from an animal shelter.
Healthy but Curious
When looking for a great cat at your local animal shelter, a healthy cat should be your number-one priority. Healthy cats have clear eyes and noses without excessive sneezing, coughing, or mucous discharges in otherwise clean environments. Their coats should look groomed and generally free of mats, too. Don't let this ideal keep you from falling for a curious cat, though! A cat with this sense of adventure is one who may adjust more easily to living with your family e.g. they are daring enough to approach the end of the cage and interact with you.
The Adoption Process
Each shelter has a different process for adopting cats, so check the organisation's website (or call them) before you go. The following steps are pretty common parts of the process:
- Private shelters often require forms that include a vet's name, phone number, and references. Look for a local vet even before you contact the shelter so you have this information on hand.
- All available cats are advertised online or on the shelter's website. If you see one you like, call ahead to make sure they are still there.
- Make an appointment to visit the shelter and meet the cat.
- Bring your driver's license or similar proof of address.
- Some shelters offer a simple cardboard carrier so that you can bring your kitty home, but if you have your own cat carrier bring it along. Cats should ride in a sturdy carrier so they don't get hurt or feel the need to escape.
- Some shelters request a twenty-four hour waiting period, so you may not be able to bring them home right away. Keep in mind that this gives you time to think about your decision, and gives the shelter time to conduct a background check that confirms you're the reliable owner you know you are.
- You may be asked to complete an adoption contract, which stipulates the conditions under which you can keep your cat. For example, you'll be required to have the cat spayed or neutered, and keep up-to-date with vaccinations. You may also be asked to bring your cat back to the shelter if you need to re-home them for any reason.
- Finally, bring your cat home. Have a litter box, food, and water bowl set up in just one room; it's helpful to keep them contained to one space of the house for the first day or two until they get used to the environment. Provide plenty of toys and places to hide, such as a cardboard box or soft-sided sleeping cube.
Know the Costs Beforehand
Getting a cat is a lifetime commitment. As a parent and guardian, you'll be responsible for their well-being for the rest of their life. Knowing the costs and time commitments for cat ownership is an important part of the adoption process.
Don't forget a litter box, bowls, and toys. A brush is also helpful to keep your cat’s coat clean.
Good-quality cat food is high in nutrients and low in fillers. Cat foods such as Hill’s Science Plan are available at specialty pet retailers.
What about a time commitment? You don't need to walk your cat, but you should look forward to spending quality time each day with your adorable friend. Grooming, brushing, feeding, and simply enjoying your time together is essential to creating that special bond with your newest family member.
Cats offer companionship, affection, and enjoyment—and ask so little in return. So, adopt a cat. As they say, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Jeanne Grunert is a freelance writer, blogger, and book author. She's the guardian of six adopted cats and one adopted dog, and writes extensively about pet care, gardening and other lifestyle topics. Learn more about Jeanne and her writing on her author website.