8 Things You Should Never Do When Adopting a Cat

Bringing home a new family member is an exciting time, but it also takes careful preparation. Here are some common mistakes potential pet parents make when adopting a cat, and what you should do instead.

1. Making a Quick Decision

Making the decision to add a cat to your home is a big commitment. You must consider all aspects of care that a cat will need throughout their life, which can be 20 years or longer.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why do I want to adopt a cat, and why now?

  • Is adopting a cat from a shelter or purchasing a kitten from a breeder the best decision for me?

  • What is my lifestyle like, and how will a cat fit into it?

  • Is there a certain cat breed or age that would be a better fit for me?

  • Am I able to take on the financial responsibility of caring for a cat?

  • How will my current animals adapt to a new cat in the home?

  • If I go on vacation, do I have someone to care for a cat while I’m away? 

Once you’re certain you’re ready to adopt, you can move forward adding a feline friend to your home—and heart. 

2. Put Off Purchasing Supplies

You’ve probably cruised adoption websites looking at cats and kittens—and when you find one that you can’t resist, you’ll want to pounce. But while you are ready, is your home ready too?

Preparing your home for your new cat takes time and careful preparation. You’ll need to set yourself—and your new pet—up for success when introducing them to your home. It’s always better to prepare a safe space filled with must-need supplies before you bring home the cat, rather than after.

Some items you’ll need include:

3. Only Considering Kittens

There’s no denying that kittens are cute, but they also require quite a bit more work than an adult cat. Never underestimate the love an adult or senior cat has to give. They are often overlooked at shelters for a cute kitten in the next kennel.

Some people may be afraid to adopt an older cat for medical reasons, and medical considerations cannot be ignored. However, the preventative care and time commitment for a kitten can be just as intense—or more—as any healthy senior cat. In addition, the benefit of adopting an older cat is that their personality is already known; they may be more settled and fit into your daily routine much easier than a kitten.

If there is already an adult cat in the home, introducing an adult cat may be less challenging than introducing a playful kitten. A resident cat may not be up for the task of playing or being as active as your new kitten.

4. Adopting Only One Kitten

If adopting a kitten is the best fit for your situation, consider bringing home two kittens instead of one. When adopted as a pair, the kittens will enjoy growing up together and have a constant playmate to keep them company.

5. Rushing Introductions

It can take days or even weeks for a cat to settle into a new environment. When you bring home your new family member, they should be given a safe space where they can acclimate to their new home at their own speed. Don’t force introductions to any existing pets in the home and give everyone ample time to adjust and get to know each other.

Fearful pets are more likely to have negative interactions or be aggressive. Introductions to dogs or other cats should always be gradual, controlled, and positive.

6. Forgetting to Cat-Proof Your Home

Cats are crafty creatures, and they can easily get into things they shouldn’t. You need to cat-proof your space before your kitty comes home to avoid any accidents.

This includes removing any potential toxins and small objects that could be swallowed or electrical cords that could be chewed on, and making sure that any heavy objects that could fall onto your cat are securely anchored.

7. Skipping a Wellness Check

Most adoption organizations will provide you with known medical information about your cat. At the shelter, your cat or kitten should have been spayed or neutered, received at least one set of core vaccines, been dewormed with an anti-parasitic, and received flea prevention. Still, it’s very important to establish care with a local veterinarian as soon as possible, ideally within the first seven to 10 days after adoption.

It can take weeks to get an appointment at some veterinary clinics, and you don’t want to miss out on a set vaccination schedule. You may already have pets and have a veterinarian, but you’ll still need to ensure that your vet is available for a post-adoption exam.

If you need to find a veterinarian, you may have to interview a few places to find a cat-friendly place that suits you. If you’re considering pet insurance right away, you may need to set up a veterinary exam to register for it.

8. Not Being Honest With Yourself

What are you looking for, and what’s important to you? This can include a cat’s age, sex, color, breed, and personality. Don’t be afraid to leave your adoption appointment without a cat if you don’t find the right fit. Your ideal cat is out there—it might just take patience to find them.  

Featured Image: Adobe/maryviolet

Jeannine Berger, DVM, DACVB, DACAW, CAWA


Jeannine Berger, DVM, DACVB, DACAW, CAWA


Dr. Berger obtained her veterinary degree and completed her doctoral thesis in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1998 she moved to California to work...

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