Before adopting a cat, arm yourself with the knowledge you need to form a lasting bond with your feline friend.
Am I able to care for a cat?
It may seem obvious, but the number of people who fail to consider whether they’re truly ready for a cat is a major reason why so many furry felines wind up in shelters.
Wanting a cat and actually being able to meet their needs for their entire life are two very different things. Consider your lifestyle – do you have time to spend with your cat every day? Can you afford food, toys, preventative parasite control and pet insurance? Will you be able to accommodate an unexpected expense like an accident or illness?
None of these questions present insurmountable difficulties in adopting a cat, but they are things that prospective cat parents should consider.
Is my home safe and ready for a cat?
If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that cats love to push things off surfaces, and the higher the better. Before you bring your feline companion home, cat-proof your space by putting away any precious or breakable objects.
Make sure blind/curtain cords and electrical cables are safely secured, and check that your garden is free of plants that are poisonous to cats, including lilies, crocuses, azaleas and ferns.
How did the cat come to be at the shelter, and how long have they been there?
Sometimes a surrendered cat may come with history that can affect their temperament and behaviour. For example, it could simply be that they’ve lived a quiet life with an elderly owner and might not cope in a noisy household with young children. It’s important to find out all you can.
Similarly, if the cat has been at the shelter for months or even years, it’s likely to take some time – and require lots of patience from you – for them to adjust to life in a loving home.
Ask if you can spend some one-on-one time with the cat at adoption centre before takingthem home. Also ask if they have any insight into how they behave with children, strangers and/or other pets. If you have other pets, bring them to meet the cat before finalising the adoption.
Do they have any medical concerns or need medication?
All reputable shelters carry out thorough health assessments before making pets available for adoption. There’s no reason at all why a cat with a health condition can’t be a wonderful pet, but you need to consider whether you’re physically and financially able to meet their ongoing medical needs.
Are their vaccinations up to date and have they had a health check-up?
Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are infectious conditions that are transmitted through cat saliva. While FIV is fairly common, cats that test positive can live for years without showing signs of the disease. FeLV is less common, but the prognosis for infected cats is not good. Both illnesses can be prevented with vaccination. Cats should also be desexed, wormed and vaccinated against Feline Enteritis, Chlamydophila and Feline Respiratory Disease; if this hasn’t been done at the shelter, see your local Greencross Vets as soon as possible.