Checklist for Adopting a Cat

Adopting a CatThinking of adopting a cat? First, check out these helpful tips, gathered by five well-respected animal organizations: American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), CATalyst Council and Petfinder.

1. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two. Cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other. Plus they’ll provide more benefits to you. Cats’ purring has been shown to soothe humans as well as themselves – and they have an uncanny ability to just make you smile. At Sheltering Hands we have a wide variety of cats available and looking for loving homes. Please check with us first. Other sites like let you search numerous shelters in your area simultaneously to help narrow your search and more quickly find the match that’s right for you.

2. Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. Kittens are usually full of energy and curiosity and are very active. Older cats are often more mellow and laid back, many times being an excellent choice for someone who would prefer to not keep up with an active youngster! Some cats love attention and will sit on your lap purring and head butting, while others prefer to sit beside you and enjoy your presence. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the cat’s personality with your own.

3. Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit. To help your new feline friend have a long, healthy life, regular vet checkups are essential.

4. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home. Visiting the shelter or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction. Think carefully about the needs of all family members before adopting. Like any pet, cats are a long term commitment. Most cats adopted as kittens can be expected to live into their mid to late teens.

5. Budget for the short – and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and there’s a cost associated with that. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification. In planning your pet budget, consider the following items – good quality cat food, litter box supplies and litter, bedding and toys, grooming tools, scratching post (preferably at least 3 feet high to allow for a full body stretch), carrier for safe transporting, regular vet checkups with required and recommended vaccinations, and a yearly county license tag. An adoption counselor with Sheltering Hands would be happy to help you create your “cat care” budget.

6. Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers (be sure to choose some that are designed for cats as many dog nail clippers are too big). To help your cat make a smoother transition, find out what he or she was eating at the shelter or foster home so you can gradually transition them to a new food, if you choose. The same goes for their litter, as many cats have a distinct preference in the litter they use.

7. Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter is a temptation to a free lunch (that might be upsetting to kitty’s stomach). Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow). Click here for a list of plants that are toxic to cats so your cat does not come into contact with them if you have them as houseplants. Put away harsh cleaning products, human medications and household poisons, and rehome any houseplants that might be toxic to her. Make sure foods that aren’t healthy for a cat’s tummy are placed securely out of reach. Click here for a list of foods that your cat should not eat.

8. Forever Cat – Please read this touching thought provoking prose in our Resources for Cat Owners section.