Adopting A Shelter/Rescue Cat Part 1: Finding A Feline Friend

kitten licks sleeping cat

Adopting a shelter or rescue cat is a great way to establish a lasting friendship with an animal in need of a forever home. If the adoption process seems daunting, however, there are a few considerations to make beforehand to ensure an easy experience.

Paula Plummer, a veterinary technician at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and certified Cat Friendly Veterinary Professional, says that the first step when considering adoption is to examine your work schedule and home life.

“Reflection of your home and work life may help you determine what age cat is best for you,” Plummer said. “Kittens are still learning about everything in life; they are curious and playful. Depending on the kitten’s history and age, they may require litter box training or transitioning from kitten milk to solid food.

“Adult cats can still be curious and playful, but to a lesser degree,” she said. “This is when they start becoming more set in their behaviors. Older cats or seniors are typically not playful and will normally start to experience age-related changes. This could require adjustments to a new environment that might take a little longer than with a younger cat.”

Between daily treatments and veterinary visits, medical needs also will affect the amount of time and attention a new cat will require. While at a shelter or rescue, asking about previous veterinary visits and health care records is important to ensure that the cat is up to date on its medical needs before bringing the new pet home.

Additionally, Plummer recommends asking about the cat’s personality to determine if it will make a good fit for the family. This is especially important if there are children or pets in the household already.

“Gaining as much information about the behaviors, likes and dislikes, and routine is very helpful when bringing a new cat into a household,” Plummer said. “If pets or children are in the house, knowing how the new pet interacts with them will be important.

“If possible, have any existing pet and/or child meet the new cat before adoption to get an idea of how everyone interacts together,” she said. “Pet owners should seriously consider if any pets in the house might be unfriendly to the new cat to ensure that it will not be harmed.”

Once you’re sure that you want to bring home a new furry friend, timing for the adoption also should be a consideration in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“The addition of another pet into the house will cause a layer of stress to existing pets for a period until the family is a cohesive unit,” Plummer said. “If existing pets are ill or exhibiting behavioral problems, a new addition to the family can be postponed.”

Plummer also recommends waiting until the home has stabilized if any other big changes have been made recently, such as a move or other addition to the family.

Bringing home a new cat can make for a deeply rewarding experience for all involved. By being mindful of the considerations to make beforehand, you can ensure that the new pet will be a good fit for the household and, in doing so, have the opportunity to provide the love and care that an animal deserves.

Pet Talk is a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.


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