Of the estimated 7.5 million pets entering animal shelters every year, more than 2.5 million are former family pets that were surrendered, most often by owners that either weren’t fully prepared for the responsibility of pet ownership or didn’t take the time and effort necessary to integrate a new pet into the home.
As important as it is to adopt, it’s equally important to be prepared to love, protect, and provide for your new family member for a lifetime.
Angela Marcus, founder of GetYourPet.com, a revolutionary alternative pet adoption site that’s changing the lives of adoptable dogs and cats, keeping them out of the struggling shelter system, and helping to connect them with their future families, created this list of the Top 7 Tips for Adopting a Cat:
- Look for a cat with a personality that’s right for you. Not all cats are created equal. Each one has a very distinct personality and you’ll want to choose one that fits in with your family and lifestyle. If you have you a houseful of rambunctious kids, a kitten may be the best fit. But if you are looking for a lap cat, you’ll want to opt for an older, calmer cat. If possible, observe the cat in their home environment to see how they behave. If you are adopting from a shelter, see how the cat reacts when you approach their cage door. Affectionate cats with outgoing, friendly personalities will be at the cage door or rubbing up against your legs. Shyer cats will be more timid and you should plan to spend more time coaxing them out of their shell.
- Prepare your home. Make sure you have everything set up before bringing home your newly- adopted cat. Designate a space for their food and water dish. You’ll also want to have the litter box set up and ready to go before your furry friend arrives. Litter box placement is extremely important for your cat’s smooth transition to their new home. Make sure the litter box is away from their food and water, yet not tucked away somewhere that’s hard for them – or you – to access. To ensure your home is “cat-ready”, you’ll also have to think like a cat. Our feline friends are known for their curiosity, and they love to jump up high and hunt for food and other things, making countertops and tables prime spaces for exploration. Keep any sharp, dangerous or valuable items (or poisonous foods or plants) out of reach or stored away to keep your cat safe.
- Consider your new cat’s diet. It’s completely normal for cats to lose their appetite or avoid eating altogether when they arrive at a new place. This is because they’re usually stressed or hesitant to eliminate in an unfamiliar place. It’s important that you try to encourage your cat to eat during the transition to their new home. If possible, continue using the same food they were eating before you adopted them and, if you want to upgrade their diet, slowly transition them over the course of the next week.
- Give your new cat ample space and time to adjust. A cat’s natural instinct is to be reserved and hesitant when entering with a new environment. They need to investigate all the new smells, sights and sounds, so a slow introduction is best. At first, keep them confined to a few rooms until you sense they are comfortable. Then begin allowing them more space to roam. Be sure to monitor their behavior and don’t push them to interact with other pets or people until they are ready.
- First impressions are important – make sure they go right! Let your cat take the lead when meeting new people. Have the person sit on the ground and let the cat approach them. Don’t force it – it may take several days, or even weeks, before your newly-adopted cat is outwardly friendly or seeking attention from your entire family, including you! It will be worth it, though, because winning a cat’s affection is a gift that is invaluable. If you aren’t quite sure what that behavior means, check out this blog for a more thorough explanation on 10 Common Cat Behaviors.
- Introduce your newly-adopted cat to resident pets gradually. It’s best if your new cat has a chance to adjust to their new environment before Fido the wiggly Labrador or Snowball the furry feline is all up in their face. Your new kitty will smell Fido or Snowball long before seeing them. Let them adjust to your other pet’s scent behind the safety of a closed door or a baby gate before introductions occur. When the time is right to meet a dog (usually a few days after bringing home your new kitty,) first make sure the dog is leashed to avoid any potential disasters. Cat introductions should be done in an open space, like a living room, where both cats have plenty of room to get away from one another. Of course, you should always closely monitor any introductions and be ready to step in if necessary.
- Make vet visits a priority. This one seems like a no brainer, but as anyone who has struggled with putting a cat in a carrier will tell you, it’s not as easy as it sounds! But it is important. As time goes on, you will get to know what’s “normal” for your cat. What you might not realize is that even a slight change in body weight (even only one or two pounds!) can be a significant change for a cat. Making sure they get checked out once a year is critical to enjoying a long, happy life with your cat. Like all animals, they are aging a lot faster than we are. Skipping one annual visit is akin to a human not seeing their doctor for over five years!
A New Alternative in Pet Adoption:
With shelters and rescues all over the country bursting at the seams with homeless pets, an alternative method of pet adoption has been born.
Get Your Pet is an online community that connects people who need to find a new home for their pet with people who want to adopt a pet like theirs. Animal shelters and pet rescues do wonderful work, but the current, shelter-based system for pet adoption is in crisis, and it needs our help. Get Your Pet is a simple, smart and humane way to keep pets out of shelters, one that also increases shelters’ ability to care for the homeless and abused animals that can benefit most from the amazing work they do.
The website, getyourpet.com, a revolutionary pet adoption site that helps lovable pets go directly from one good home to another rather than to a shelter, and is now available across the U.S. The site offers a simple, smart approach to pet adoption, enabling people who need to give up a pet to connect directly with people who want to adopt.
The images throughout this article are all pets that were found and adopted through GetYourPet.com!