Adopting a pet, particularly a cat, is never a decision that should be made “on the run.”
Generally speaking, dogs are more outgoing than cats, thus it’s much easier to get a snapshot of their personalities in a shelter environment. Cats, by nature, are often shy with strangers in a shelter environment and this tends to make them more reticent.
Because June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, I am focusing on felines for this post and the key message is to take your time and be patient during the adoption process.
It’s often a good idea to visit a shelter without taking your children along because they will want every cat they see! Once you have made a decision, then plan another visit that will involve them and let them be present for the actual adoption so that they really feel involved with their new family member from the get-go.
When you visit the shelter, let your preferences be known as to whether you want a male or female as well as if you prefer an adult, teenage cat or kitten. So many wonderful older cats are overlooked. Please give them a chance, too. Often they have lost their homes through no fault of their own and are just looking for someone to love, thus making wonderful, adoring companions.
If possible, try and adopt two cats so that they can keep each other company. If you are able to do this, ask shelter personnel if there are any two-cat pairs awaiting adoption and ask to meet them. Such cats usually settle down quickly.
Because cats are often shy when caged in a noisy environment, ask if you can spend some quality time in a hospitality room. This will give any cat an opportunity to warm to you and even play some games and demonstrate its true personality.
Don’t be shy to ask lots of questions and enquire what background information is available. Often cats have been abandoned and found on the streets and have no back story. And that is fine — you can start your history together.
Before you bring you new friend home, double check that your home is a secure and safe environment. In particular, ensure there are no loose screens or holes in screens for escape artists. And be sure to stock up on all necessities in advance from the litter box and litter to dinnerware and food and treats, toys and a nice comfy pet bed. Even though cats love to curl up and sleep on your bed or favorite chair, it’s a good idea for them to have the privacy of their sleep zone too.
And don’t forget to document the adoption on your phone or a camera. It’s a great way to start building memories.