Adopting a Shelter Cat – Before you bring your New Kitty Home

Is it time to get a kitty? Deciding to get a cat is more than just picking a collar and a name. This blog discusses things you need to consider before you decide to get a cat.
Are you ready for a Cat?

It’s no surprise, having a pet is a big responsibility. Your new kitty is going to be with you for years. An article from Doctors Foster and Smith suggest you ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I emotionally, financially, and personally ready to take the responsibility of having a new cat?
  2. Do I understand the nutritional, housing, and health requirements of a cat?
  3. Have I acquired the necessary items needed to take care of a cat, and have I cat-proofed my house?
  4. A cat isn’t a spur-of-the-moment acquisition. Make sure you have a good idea about the traits you’re looking for and would fit in well with your lifestyle. Having a good idea of the type of cat you’re looking for gives you a better chance at finding success with your kitty. Ask yourself ‘do I know what I’m looking for in a cat’:
    1. Breed and/or size
    2. Temperament and personality
    3. Gender
    4. Age
    5. Energy level
  5. Are all of my family members in agreement about getting a new cat?
  6. Have guidelines been set for the feeding, grooming (if necessary, for example long hair cats might need grooming attention), discipline and training (which can be tricky for cats), and cleaning up after kitty?
Before Kitty Comes Home

There are 2 main areas of preparation before kitty comes home: 1) cat-proofing, and 2) cat stuff.

It’s a good idea to cat-proof your house. Here are some suggestions from Petfinder:

  • Cats are territorial and a new house can be intimidating. Find a small place in your home where kitty can hang out for the first few days. Set up all your cat’s amenities. Kitty will feel safe as he acclimatizes to your home. You and kitty can get acquainted here too.
  • A lot of cats love a small place to hide. Consider getting a covered bed, or if you’re creative you can make a fort from a box or blanket.
  • Cats scratch and climb stuff – it’s just what they do. You might want to remove any items you have on display that could easily be knocked over or damaged.
  • Cover any holes in the walls that lead to ductwork – you don’t want kitty to get lost in the walls.

You’re going to need cat stuff. If you have second hand cat stuff that’s ok – but as cats are territorial make sure you wash it. Here are the basic cat items you’ll need:

  • Cat Carrier
  • Litter box – make sure you get one that’s big enough even if you’re getting a kitten. Also, some cats enjoy digging so consider a high back, or covered box.
    • Litter – there’s a lot of different cat litter out there, clay to crystals, pellets to walnut shells, scented to unscented. Make sure to pick the one that’s most appropriate to you and the type of cat you’re getting (kittens have different litter needs than adult cats)
    • Poop scoop and litter liners
  • Food – your local pet store has aisles and aisles of pet food. Get the one that’s best for your cat/kitten
    • Food and water bowls
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • Bed/blanket
  • Scratching post/Cat tower – keep in mind that cats scratch to wear their claws down and that scratching is one of the ways that cats take ownership of an item. Better they scratch a post than your stuff
Adopt or buy – that is the question. As it is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month we’re going to focus on the adoption option.

Adopting from a shelter has a lot of advantages:

  • There’s a lot of choice – unfortunately there are a lot of cats in shelters, you’re certain to find your dream kitty
  • In general, shelter cats have been spayed/neutered, immunized, dewormed, microchipped/tattooed, and examined for behavioural and medical issues
    • Most shelters screen for feline Leukemia and HIV
  • You can choose a cat with a personality that matches your own – you’ll be less likely to have to bring the cat back to the shelter if you choose the right personality
  • You’re saving a life

Need more convincing? Check out S.E. Smith’s article 10 Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Cat

Here’s an overview of the adoption process according to Doctors Foster and Smith:
  • Fill out an application
    • Proof of age and permanent residence
    • Pet ownership history (may include vet records)
    • Proof of vaccination and licensing of other pets
    • Photo ID
  • Choose your new cat – it never hurts to visit shelter cats a couple of times before you make a choice
  • Waiting period
  • Sign a contract and fee payment – (contracts vary between shelters)
  • Trial period
Adoption fees differ from shelter to shelter. Also, it depends on the cat’s age and sex. Here’s an example from the BCSPCA:
One-Time Adoption Expenses
Adoption Fee $100
Spaying/neutering and tattoo $160
The costs don’t end with the adoption fees. Here’s what you need to be aware of for your budget:
One-Time Expenses
Food and Water Dishes $9
Collar $8
Brush $10
Litter Pan and Scoop $15
Scratching Post $30
Carrier $25
Toys $15
Total $112
All in one-time total
Annual Expenses
Food (Wet and Dry) $336
Treats $30
Litter $144
Vet Checks and Vaccinations $120

The above costs don’t include things like anti fur ball meds, deworming, flea/tick meds, pet insurance, or dental care.

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Want More?

Check out the article mentioned in the blog:

10 Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Pet – http://www.care2.com/causes/10-reasons-to-adopt-a-shelter-cat.html

Adopting Cats from an Animal Shelter – http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2137&aid=829

I’m Adopting a Cat, Now What? – https://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/cat-adoption/cat-adoption-first-30-days/

BCSPCA, Cost of Care – http://www.spca.bc.ca/pet-care/adoption/5-steps-to-adoption/cost-of-care.html#Cats

LAPS, Adoption Process – http://www.lapsbc.ca/get-involved/animal-adoption/adoption-process/

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