We, along with American Humane, celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month® each June – a month that also marks the height of “kitten season,” when large litters of kittens are born and often end up in animal shelters.
More than ever, these kittens need our help. Not only are thousands of newborn kittens joining the millions of cats already in shelters, but a lack of foot traffic, funding and supplies at many shelters leave them struggling to maintain operations.
If you’re thinking about adopting a cat in the future, here is a checklist you should consider
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.
Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the cat’s personality with your own.
Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. This is important to establish a baseline and a relationship in case problems develop later. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit.
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.
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. Consider pet health insurance to reduce your costs in the event of illness or injury.
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 bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers.
Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. 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).
Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded to a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys, and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings; this is particularly important if you have other pets. If you’ve adopted a kitten, socialization is very important. But remember – take it slow.
Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list.