What to look for when adopting a cat

Since Variety Pet Foods was founded, with our initial emphasis on dog food and treats, we’ve since brought our beloved feline friends into the mix. At the same time, we’ve often focused on adopting dogs (and pets in general), but we thought it high time that we give cats their due when it comes to the adoption process. Many shelters and adoption organizations do work with both dogs and cats (though some are dogs-only or cats-only for various reasons), but what should you look for specifically when going out to adopt a cat or two? There can be some big differences in what to look for and how to prepare yourselves and your home for a new cat, whatever their age.

Recognize that cats often live longer than dogs. So by adopting one, you are committing to their care for potentially up to 20 years–compared to 10-15 for most dogs. Also, take the time to analyze your current lifestyle and household situation. Most cats remain indoors at all times, unlike dogs, which need outdoor space and activity. So can your house provide a cat with space to run and explore so it gets the exercise it needs? Do you have kids, and are they old enough to handle the presence of a new cat? Or does your house present certain hazards to cats, like lots of dangling decorations they might pull or knock down, or lots of plants that could prove poisonous to them if eaten? And do you have space for things like a litter box, scratching post, or a cat castle/climbing tree?

Another big thing is that cats are often leery of entirely new spaces, and it can take them a while to adjust to a new house. One thing you can do to ease the transition process is to initially give the cat its own smaller space, like a laundry room or small side room where it has amenities like clean water and fresh food, a litter box, and toys. As the cat adjusts, you can let it roam throughout the rest of the house more.

Also, don’t automatically get your cat declawed. Many consider this inhumane and potentially damaging to the cat in the longterm. Instead, providing scratching posts or pads lets cats keep their claws healthy while keeping them from scratching your curtains or furniture.

But just as with dogs, make sure an adopted cat is given an initial health inspection from a vet, spayed or neutered, and microchipped just in case it does happen to escape the house at some point. And even if your new cat never leaves the house, it should wear a collar with proper ID–since they can be quite the escape artists and get outside without you even realizing it.

Have you adopted a cat before? What process did you go through to choose your new family member and prepare your home for the new arrival?

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