Every year between the months of March and November, thousands of kittens are born to feral cats and unaltered family pets. Throughout these months, animal shelters commonly become overwhelmed during this “kitten season.” If you’re looking to add a feline companion to your family, this is a great time of year to do it! Here are five things to consider before bringing home a furry new family member.
1-Make sure all family members are on board. This includes both human and animal family members. If you already have a dog (or two!), look for cats that have been in contact with dogs, and arrange for your dog to meet the prospective new family member. If you already have a cat, see if you can arrange a “trial period” with the animal shelter to make sure the cats will get along. A trial period will also help to determine if anyone in the household has allergies.
Children should visit the shelter to see how the potential cat reacts to any kind of playing and handling. All family members should meet the new one ahead of time to avoid potential conflicts. It is also important to establish who will be responsible for kitty cat chores, like cleaning the litter box, filling the water bowl, feeding, and play time.
2- Adopt a cat that matches your lifestyle. Do you want a lap cat, or a wily, mischievous kitten? Do you want a cat that is cuddly, or one that prefers her own space? If you travel a lot, do you have a cat sitter? How often will the cat be alone (if the answer is a lot, an adult cat might be a better choice than a kitten)? Speaking with shelter and rescue volunteers about your lifestyle and companionship expectations will help them find the perfect match. Learn everything you can about the cat from the shelter beforehand. Here are some questions you can ask:
- Why/how did this cat come into the shelter?
- Does this cat have any behavioral issues?
- Is this cat litter box trained?
While a dog will make himself right at home, cats are a little different. They like to slowly scope out their new space. Keep your cat in a smaller space, like in a bedroom or a bathroom, before giving free reign of the house. Some cats may adjust right away, but others might take up to three weeks to come out of their shell in a new home. Make sure this is something that can be accommodated, and that it is something that will fit into your lifestyle.
3- Consider adopting two. If you’re set on getting a kitten, consider adopting two at the same time. Two kittens are more likely to bond with each other, comfort each other, and teach each other about what it means to be a cat! They can help provide each other with socialization and exercise, especially if they are left alone. Sometimes these kittens are already bonded as shelter-mates.
4- Evaluate the financial commitment. Your new friend will definitely need a few things in advance! The essentials include cat litter, a litter box, food and water bowls, food, a scratching post, and toys. Not only that, there is a lifetime of veterinary care, and fees that come with adoption. If you live in an apartment that allows pets, some apartments may require a monthly pet fee tacked onto the rent. The costs do not end after the adoption fee.
5- Foster to adopt. Shelters and rescues often need foster homes due to overcrowding. If you want to adopt a cat but aren’t completely sure about it, ask about foster opportunities. Fostering usually starts with an application or interview, plus a home check. The shelter will determine what kind of cat suits your home and lifestyle. If it doesn’t work out, you are still providing a valuable service to the animal shelter until the cat finds his forever home. Fostering helps free up space in the shelter to make room for another cat!
Although this may seem like a lot to consider, don’t be intimidated: cats are pretty easy to care for!