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8 Things You Should Never Do When Adopting A Cat

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8 Things You Should Never Do When Adopting a Cat

By Kathy Blumenstock


We all know never to adopt a cat to give as a surprise gift (so unfair to kitty and just plain wrong for the human) but there are other "nevers" to keep in mind when taking that wonderful and important step of adopting a new cat. Adi Hovav, Senior Feline Behavior Counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center, and Siri Zwemke, Executive Director of the Siamese Cat Rescue Center, offered their suggestions for would-be adopters.



Never Adopt a Cat Unless Everyone Agrees a Cat is Welcome


No impulse choices, even if that wisp of a Calico kitten seems too adorable to ignore. First, make sure everyone in the home is on board with the new family member, because this is crucial to the success of the adoption and the cat’s well-being. And being on board means more than just saying “It’s okay.” As Hovav explains, “A good way to do this is to bring any family members or roommates living in the household along to help choose the cat.”  Adding a cat to your home will result in changes for everyone.  “Expect an impact on your household belongings in some form,” adds Zwemke. “Never adopt a cat without anticipating some hiccups in your routine during the transition time.”

Never Adopt A Cat Without ‘Matchmaking’ Assistance


“Not every cat will be dog-friendly or child-friendly. Some may hate other cats and dislike sharing a litter box, some need quieter homes, others thrive in busier households,” says Zwemke. She suggests working with a rescue group or shelter that offers detailed information on the cat’s personality, and whose staffers will help match the right cat to the right home, whether you’re seeking a lap cat or an energetic pair of kittens. This way a cat won’t be stuck in the endless circle of shelter to home to shelter, and adopters won’t be disappointed or surprised.

Never Let Your New Cat Run Free


“It’s always a good idea to have your cat set up in just one room to start,” advises Hovav. This way the sights, scents, and sounds of this strange new place can be experienced in smaller doses and won’t cause your new cat to take refuge under the bed for a week. Getting familiar with your home one room at a time gives kitty a chance to explore new territory at her own pace. Hovav says that by starting her out her by confining her to a single room with a litter box, water, food, bedding, and a nightlight will “allow her to gradually get accustomed to her new home without being overwhelmed. It will also make sure she knows where to find the litter box.”

Never Adopt A Cat Without Isolating It At First


Not only must the new cat cope with a new reality, your existing cats or other pets are adjusting too. “Cats coming into your home bring with them their own germ set, no matter their vaccination or medical status,” Zwemke says. “Cats already living there are protective and possessive of their territory. A 10-14 day isolation period for the new cat lets you observe her and have your vet examine her, and allows existing pets to get used to the idea of a new family member by ‘scenting’ the new cat.” She adds that if new and resident cats are introduced too quickly and a fight breaks out, “It’s difficult, if not impossible, to re-establish a relationship that will be a friendly one.”

Never Adopt A Cat Breed Without Doing Your Homework


You may fall in love with the beauty of a special breed, such as a Siamese, Maine Coon, or Persian. Or you may want one because the coloration of its lustrous coat will look so lovely perched on your sofa. “If you’re interested in a specific breed, learn all you can about it: Are they high energy or laid back? People-oriented or demanding?” says Zwemke. “A Siamese is often very needy of your time and attention, so [it] won’t do well with someone who travels a lot, works long hours, and has little time to interact.” Researching the breed’s needs and behavior quirks means you’ll end up with a family member whose lifestyle meshes with your own.

Never Add Other New Pets Before The New Cat Has Settled In


Cats, like the rest of us, need time to adjust to change, and a new cat home, like a new job or new car, is a huge change that isn’t yet a comfort zone. Additional distractions such as other new animal personalities placed into the mix just delay the process. “If you are looking to expand your pet family beyond your newly adopted cat, do plenty of research first,” says Hovav. “Consult with behavior experts,” and/or your own vet, about how and when—and even if—you should introduce another cat, dog, or other new pets to your newly acquired kitty, who might ultimately enjoy animal companionship, but may do better as an only pet.  

Never Adopt a Cat Without Planning For Vet Visits/Expenses


Keeping a kitty healthy for all of those nine lives means regular vet attention, a part of responsible pet ownership that can never be overlooked. Zwemke says that from basic vaccinations to more specialized treatments, “when you’re adding a cat to your home, be sure you factor in the cost of regular medical/dental care. Just like people, cats need medical attention, particularly as they age.” Because cats can be stoic, masking ills and compensating for pain, your cat should see the vet annually to detect changes. “Once they reach 10-years-old, that vet visit should include a blood panel and thyroid check-up so you can address their hydration needs and their diet accordingly.” 

Never Adopt a Cat Without Preparing Supplies in Advance


It’s like getting the guest room ready: If a cat’s coming to live in your home, don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. Hovav urges, “It’s always a good idea to make sure you have everything your cat will need all set—such as the right size litter box, plenty of litter, food and water bowls, toys, scratch pads, and bedding—before bringing your new cat home. That way you can concentrate on helping her get acclimated rather than running out to the store.” By making that list and stocking up early, you’ll clearly see any other items you might want (such as flea treatments and nail trimmers) or need (a roomy, secure carrier) to transport your new kitty to her forever home.


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