- If you are thinking of bringing home a new feline family member, June is a superb time to do so as it’s Adopt-a-Cat Month and also a time when shelters have lots of kittens.
- When choosing a kitten or cat to adopt, check them over for signs of health.
- Before you bring home a kitten or cat, make sure your home is prepared and safe.
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If you are thinking of bringing home a new feline family member, June is a superb time to do so as it’s Adopt-a-Cat Month.
The American Humane Society said June also marks the height of “kitten season,” when litters of kittens are born and often end up in animal shelters. The Humane Society says that finding homes for cats and kittens in shelters is especially acute this year.
“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 struggling to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic further threaten these beautiful animals and their hopes to find a forever home,” they said on their website.
If you are thinking of adopting a cat for the first time, or haven’t done so in a while, you may be wondering where to start.
Why adopt a cat or kitten
If you are thinking about adopting a cat or kitten, you probably already know why you want one. Cats are playful and hilarious, and some are even affectionate. Even when they are being aloof, feline lovers just can’t get enough of their “catitude.”
They can also be easier to care for than dogs because they can be left alone for hours without concern they will chew up all of your shoes. Just be aware that cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction, which is why the Humane Society recommends getting two cats so that they can entertain each other. Another rescue, Meow Cat Rescue in Kirkland, Wash., will only adopt kittens in pairs for the same reason.
Should you adopt a kitten or a full-grown cat?
Whether to get a kitten or a full-grown cat depends on how much time and energy you have for your new furry family member. Kittens will be more energetic and might need to be litter box trained. Kittens will scale your drapes, run up and down the stairs and leap onto a countertop, while an older cat may be content to nap on your lap. If you choose a kitten, you will need to kitten-proof your home from everyday dangers.
If you have young children, you may be better off with a grown cat, as kids like to hug pets and could hurt a small kitten. Similarly, older adults might be overwhelmed by a rambunctious, young kitty and could trip on them.
An older cat will be more settled and less likely to get into trouble. Also, since they are fully developed, you will know right away how big they will be and what their personality is like.
Kittens will also be adopted out more quickly than adults, so if saving a life is your goal, consider a mature or senior cat. Older cats are the most likely to be euthanized in a shelter.
Where to adopt a cat or kitten
You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a cat or kitten to adopt as rescues and shelters are full of them, especially this time of year.
If you want to look online to see what’s available or are looking for something specific, Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet are great places to start. You can search for specific breeds, ages, sizes, and gender.
You can also check pet adoption groups on social media and craigslist to see if someone has a cat they are trying to re-home in your area.
There are not many professional cat breeders as there are plenty of cats breeding on their own. Still, if you are looking for something exotic such as a Maine Coon or Abyssinian, you can find a reputable breeder here. You can also search the adoption sites for a specific breed.
If you are new to cat parenthood, you may consider one of these best breeds for first-time cat owners.
What to look for when adopting a cat or kitten
Whether you get a young or older cat, spend some time with them at the shelter or rescue to make your personalities are a good fit. Cats will vary in their level of affection, energy, and playfulness, just like people.
Besides cuteness and personality, you’ll want to choose a healthy cat or kitten. Dr. Marty Becker, a celebrity veterinarian, offers the tips below for picking a kitten.
Look for overall good health and vitality: a sleek and solid kitten, not too thin or too chubby. Kittens with ribs showing or a pot belly may be suffering from malnutrition or internal parasites. These problems are fixable but could indicate other health issues.
Dr. Becker suggests speaking gently and caressing the kitten softly while you go over the entire body from nose to tail. Here are some things to look for:
- Fur and skin. The skin should be clean and covered with a glossy fur coat. Part the hairs and look for signs of fleas.
- Ears. They should look clean inside with only a small amount of wax. Head shaking and dark buildup resembling coffee grounds are signs of ear mites. They’re treatable but easily spread to other pets, so be aware that other pets in the home may also need treatment.
- Eyes. Look for clear, bright eyes without runny discharge.
- Nose. It should be clean and slightly moist, with no discharge.
- Mouth. Gums should be a healthy pink, with no redness at the base of the teeth. Teeth should be white and free of tartar buildup. Coughing, sneezing and difficulty breathing are signs of serious illness.
- Tail. The area around the tail should be clean and dry, with no fecal material stuck to it.
How much does it cost to adopt a cat?
Assuming you are looking at shelter cats and not from a breeder, the adoption fees are usually modest. They generally range from $100 to $200, and that covers medical screenings, vaccines, and spaying or neutering before adoption. Some shelters waive adoption fees for older cats, or if they have too many cats, or for special events such as “Clear the Shelters” month in August.
The adoption fee is a drop in the bucket compared to the ongoing costs of owning a cat – for food, toys, vet bills, pet insurance, and hiring the occasional cat-sitter. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) performed a survey of cat owners in 2021, and they reported spending an average of $902 a year per cat.
Preparing for a new cat
Before heading to the shelter, you’ll want to do a little home preparation to remove any dangers or breakable items and ensure you have all the supplies to ensure a successful homecoming. Check out our preparation tips and supplies list for cats or our new kitten checklist.
Among the supplies you’ll need to start are food bowls, a litter box, food, a collar with ID tag, a cat carrier, toys, and treats.
Introducing your new cat to other family members
If you have children, it’s essential to prepare them for a new pet. You’ll want to talk about how to behave around a cat and what responsibilities the children will have in caring for the cat. And once the cat is home, don’t rush introductions; baby steps are best to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
If you have other pets, you’ll want to bone up on how to introduce them properly. Cats are quite territorial, so if you already have a cat in the home, you may need to keep them separate for a week or so. You can slowly introduce them to each other’s scent during this time. Learn details on how to do this in our post about introducing cats to each other.
If you have a dog that hasn’t been around cats before, the introduction will also take time and patience. You’ll want to have a separate space for your cat to ensure safety until the pets are friends. Be sure and follow these steps for the best chance of success.
How to help if you can’t adopt
If you want to help homeless cats but are not in a position to adopt, there are other things you can do. Here are a few ideas:
- Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue that helps cats or offer to foster. Shelter volunteers often get to play with cats to socialize them. If you have a particular skill, such as photography, you can help market pets for adoption.
- Share posts on social media about Adopt-a-Cat month or cats available for adoption.
- Donate to a rescue or shelter that serves cats. Shelters are perennially underfunded, and donations save lives.