Right about this time every year, animal shelters have an abundance of kittens looking for a home. That’s why the American Humane Association (AHA) chose June as Adopt-a-Cat Month. Cats are cute and cuddly and make wonderful companions for all ages, but there are a few important things to consider before you adopt a cat.
1. Two are better than one! Cats need exercise and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other.
2. Play the match game. Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. According to the AHA, in general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the individual cat’s personality with your own.
3. Vet a vet. Choose and visit with a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit.
4. Make it a family affair. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before your new pet comes home. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction.
5. Build your cat into your budget. Budget short- and long-term costs so you’re not caught off guard. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification.
6. Stock up. Stock up on supplies so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a comfy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush, and nail clippers.
7. Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will teach your new friend to jump on counters seeking snacks. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).
8. Take it slowly. Socialization is very important for kittens, but it can take a few weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded in a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings, especially if you have other pets.
9. Plan for emergencies. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list, and be sure to have cat food and medications to last a few days.
10. Think twice about giving a cat as a gift. Though well-meaning, the surprise kitty gift could turn out to be bad news for everyone involved. Make sure the recipient is receptive to the idea, up to the challenge, and involved in the process.
“Far too many [cats] end up homeless without the love, security and care they deserve,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of AHA. “Adopt-a-Cat Month not only encourages people to give loving homes to animals in need, but offers an opportunity to provide a wider focus on the ongoing need these beautiful animals face all year round. We encourage everyone who loves animals to get involved, adopt a cat this June, and support efforts to make a humane world for all animals.”