If you're thinking about adopting a cat, we tip our hats to you.
Every year, roughly 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters in the United States. Cat adoption is the best way to save the lives of rescue cats. These furry friends are in need of homes and can make great companions.
Here are our best tips on how to adopt a cat and make them feel at home.
Making a Good First Impression
Before bringing your new fur baby home, make sure you have all the necessary supplies, including:
- A litter box and litter
- A food bowl and a water bowl
- Age-appropriate food
- Some place for him to hide or get up high
- A bed or perch
- A scratching post
When you first bring your cat home, start him off right next to his new litter box. Your cat will likely head off (cautiously) exploring his new home when he first arrives, but of all things in your home, you want him to know exactly where the litter box is. Don’t force him in; just let him sniff around and come back to it when he needs it.
It’s OK if your new cat decides to hide under the couch, the bed, or in a closet for a few days. This is just your cat’s way of saying, “Hey man, I’m not sure how you do things here, so let me observe for a while before I join the action.”
Cats relieve stress by scratching. While your furry new friend is getting acclimated, he may have a lot of stress to burn off, so make sure he’s fully equipped to do so in a way that won’t destroy your furniture.
If You Have Kids
On the other hand, helping feed Fluffy at the appropriate time, giving her one treat per day, and petting her gently from her head to her tail are all in the “YES!” column.
Start by having a quick chat with your kids about what’s OK and not OK. Things like pulling tails, holding on when Fluffy wants to squirm away, digging for treasure in Fluffy’s litter box, and using Crayola markers on Fluffy’s fur are in the “not OK” column.
You’ll also need to decide as a family if you’ll be letting your new addition outside or not. Some cats do well outdoors and the exercise and hunting excursions can be good for them. However, other cats are prone to fighting and may get injured or chased out of the neighborhood if left outside. Your neighborhood, type of home, and whether or not you have feral cats or predators are huge factors.
If you have any questions, talk to the veterinarian nearest to your home about what he or she recommends. You can also talk to your neighbors who have cats to find out about their experiences.
If You Have Cats
Cats are naturally territorial. In other words, they never leave the “mine!” phase that us humans go through around age three.
If you have other cats in the home, make sure each one - including your newbie - has his or her own food and water station. Some cats are able to share water bowls with each other, but each should have their own food bowl, minimum.
The same can be said for litter boxes and perches. If you’re a multi-cat household, veterinarians recommend that you have one litter box for each cat, plus one. So a three cat household should have four litter boxes. While this is the hardest rule for veterinarians to get pet-parents to abide (because who wants four litter boxes in their home?!), it’s important for your cats’ health and happiness.
Similarly, each cat will likely claim a corner of the couch, a window sill, or a level on the cat tower for himself. Make sure there’s room for your new addition, too.
If You Have Dogs
Introducing cats and dogs can either go really well or really…. not so well. We always hope for the best, but the truth is that dogs and cats don’t always get along.
Start by first letting your cat get used to his new home without the worry of having to make friends with the big drooling beast in the corner. Keep your new cat separated from your dog until he’s had time to settle in.
When it’s time for your two four-legged companions to meet, follow our guide for introducing your cat to your dog.
If You Have Other Pets
If yours is a household that’s home to lizards, snakes, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, and other small creatures, you’ll need to take special precautions when bringing your new feline friend into the fold.
Cats have a natural predatory instinct. This means that if your cat sees your goldfish and attempts to turn him into an afternoon snack, it’s not because he’s trying to spite you - he really just can’t help himself.
Do a survey of all your palm-sized creatures and make sure:
- Their tanks/cages/habitats are high off the ground
- Their home has a strong lid. The lid or screen needs to be strong enough to hold your cat’s weight, just in case he manages to get up there.
- Any doors are latched securely with a cat-proof mechanism. Cats can pull pins and may get lucky if they bat at a lever long enough. Add a lock or some other level of security to protect your little friend.
- Your cat doesn’t know about them. If at all possible, keep your small critters in a separate room that your cat doesn’t have access to. This is the best way to protect them.
Adopting any pet from an animal shelter is a noble deed. If cat adoption is in your future, we’d love to meet your new friend!