Adopting a Shelter Cat

June is national Adopt a Cat month, making now a wonderful time to bring a new feline friend into your home and your heart. Not only will you be helping out an animal in need, but you will also be making room for another cat to be cared for in that shelter.

Sometimes shelter cats have special needs because of unfortunate circumstances in their past. But with the right support, love, and patience, most cats from shelters can thrive in their new environment.

To start, you’ll want to make sure you’re visiting a reputable shelter. Ask about the costs and if medical care is included with adoptions, such as vaccines and spaying or neutering. Then make plans to visit a few times so you can interact with the cats to find the one that’s the best fit for your household. If a cat has been in foster care, the foster family can provide insights into his or her behaviors and tendencies.

Before you bring your new kitty home, you’ll want to gather some supplies including a sturdy carrier, quality litter and a litter box, healthy food, at least one source of clean water and lots of toys. Many cat experts recommend setting up a safe room (or bathroom or closet) where your cat can spend the first week or so in a contained area, rather than giving unlimited access to your home from the start. Chances are your new kitty will feel more secure and will adjust more quickly, especially if you already have other pets.

In order to introduce your new cat to the others in your household, start by making sure they are all healthy. With the new cat in your safe space, start by trading scents. You can swap out beds or towels that the other cat has slept on. Some recommend feeding them on opposite sides of the same door, so they can associate each other with positive experiences. Next, let them be near each other through the safety of a cat carrier or crate several times before you allow direct contact. Once you do let them into the same room, have lots of toys nearby in case you need to distract them from potential squabbles. If the first encounter doesn’t go well, keep them separated for a few more days before trying again. As long as you take your time and plan ahead, your cats will most likely learn to tolerate and even enjoy each other’s company.

In return, your new kitty will be forever grateful for the love and care you have provided by opening up your home and your heart.