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Pet Lover's Guide to Adopting a Cat

While it's almost impossible to determine how many stray cats there are in the U.S., preliminary estimates range up to 70 million. That's a lot of homeless cats that would make great pets. In fact, many of the pets that are in shelters are there because their owners have abandoned them for all different reasons including financial issues or even a death in the family. So we urge you to go and adopt a cat.

With that being said, most of the cats in shelters are litter-trained and they are used to living in homes. These cats are just waiting until their next pet parent comes along and unfortunately, many of these cats will never get homes. There are many places to adopt a cat, including local shelters, humane societies and rescues. If you’re looking for a particular breed of cat, there are also breed-specific rescues and groups for purebred cat adoption as well. If you’re looking to add a cat to your family, we highly recommend visiting a shelter or rescue group and adopting a cat or kitten!

Before you adopt a cat

Before you visit the shelter or log onto a rescue's website, think about what qualities you want in your new cat. Do you want a snuggly lap cat or a more independent one? Are you looking for a particular breed? Do you have other pets or kids that the cat will have to get along with? These are all important questions to ask yourself before visiting with cats, as the answers will help you find the perfect pet for your family.

You should also consider the age of your future cat. While kittens are fun, they often need additional training and entertainment. Many rescue groups will actually recommend adopting two kittens at once so they can play and keep each other entertained. Shelters and rescues have many adult and senior cats for adoption, and unfortunately these cats are often overlooked in favor of kittens. With adult and mature cats, you normally don't have to deal with litter training since they already know how to use a litter box. Also, some adult and mature cats are used to other animals being around, so if you already have a pet, it may be easy for him or her to get along with other "siblings". When meeting cats for potential adoption, why not meet and consider a few adult cats??

Meeting the cat(s)

You did your research, found a rescue group/shelter and now you're going to meet your new cat! Be prepared to fill out an application in advance or schedule an appointment if the cat is in a foster home. If you're visiting shelters, go with a good idea of what you're looking for in your future pet. Sit down with a shelter representative, and have him/her recommend pets based on what you're looking for. This way, you're only looking at pets that meet your requirements, and you don't fall in love with a cat that won't fit into your family.

Spend plenty of time with the cat before deciding to adopt, and make sure every member of the family gets to interact with him/her. If you have other pets, you'll also want to introduce them and see how they get along. If all goes well, move on to adopting!

Bringing your adopted cat home

Congratulations, you're getting a cat! Bring a cat carrier or kennel with you when you go to pick up your new cat, as many groups will require this. It will also help you safely transport your cat in your vehicle and back home with as little stress as possible.

You will need supplies ready at home to take care of him or her as well. View our cat supplies checklist for easy reference. You'll need litter boxes, litter, food and water bowls and a good quality cat food on hand once your cat gets home. Make sure there is a litter box and water set up already in the room where your cat will be adjusting.

The rescue group or shelter should send you home with a small supply of food or tell you what the cat has been eating. If you want to switch foods, do it gradually over a period of several days by mixing a larger proportion of the new food into the old each day.

In addition, it may be helpful as a training aid to give your new cat or kitten treats since treats are a great way to reward good behavior. Don't forget to buy cat toys to play with your new cat once you return home. This can really help create a bond between you both as well as make your new cat or kitten feel more comfortable.

Congratulations on your new family member!

Recommended products for your adopted cat
Molly's Tip

It's important to stay on top of your pet's vaccination schedule. Be sure to ask for a copy of records to ensure a happy, healthy kitty.