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​Your guide to adopting a cat

Rescuing a cat or kitten can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is important to consider the options to make sure you can provide the right home for your new pet.
Two adult cats walking together in a field.

Rescuing a cat or kitten can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is important to consider the options to make sure you can provide the right home for your new pet.

Benefits of adopting a cat

Adopting a cat can be an extremely gratifying journey for a number of reasons, both practical and emotional, of which here are just a few:

  • If you go to a rescue centre, staff will know each cat well and help you find the right pet for you.
  • Shelter cats are usually treated for parasites, examined by a vet and are very often sterilised and vaccinated before you take them home. You will usually be asked for an affordable financial contribution when you take your cat home
  • A shelter will always assess your lifestyle to make sure it is suited to the wellbeing and needs of the cat, and will be able to answer any questions you may have
  • If you adopt an adult cat it may already be house trained

Challenges of adopting a cat

Having an awareness of the challenges of adopting a cat from the start can help you to make your decision, and support you in the early stages of owning your new cat:

  • If you choose to adopt a kitten, it will initially be a lot more dependent than an adult cat and cannot be left alone for too long
  • If you adopt a kitten you will need to take the time to house train it
  • If you adopt an adult cat it may already have bad habits that will be difficult to change. 

Top tips for adopting a cat

Once you have made your decision to adopt a cat, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier for you and your new pet:

  • Ask questions: See if the shelter knows the age of the cat and what kind of life they have led. Ask if they're comfortable being left alone, if there’s anything that they are wary of and about their usual behaviour. Ask how they react to children and other animals as well as different environments, and whether they are used to going outside.
  • Spend time with the cat: Try to see the cat several times before adopting it and spend some time allowing it to get to know you.
Adult Russian sitting next to another cat on a grey background.

Bringing your adopted cat home

When you first bring your adopted cat home, try doing the following to allow it to slowly get used to its new family and environment:

  • Start by keeping it in one room, ideally the room in which the litter tray is going to stay, and allow them to explore in a calm and quiet environment
  • Introduce existing pets gradually and after the cat becomes settled into its surroundings. While your cat is settling in you may want to swap toys or items of material between the new and existing pets so they can get used to each others scent
  • Make sure your house is safe by putting away any toxic substances, putting a fire guard in front of any fireplaces and making sure bins and toilets have closed lids
  • Keep your cat indoors for at least the first four weeks to limit the chances of them wandering off
  • Find a reputable veterinary practice and arrange for your new cat to be brought in for a check-up as soon as possible, before introducing to any existing pets, to avoid the possibility of spreading any infections

Where to adopt a cat

There are a number of options available to you when it comes to adopting a cat, including:

  • Friends, neighbours or acquaintances may have litters by accident. In this case they will most likely need to be vaccinated and checked by a vet.
  • Rescue centres: there are rescue centres such as cat protection agencies. Make sure to research your local centres before visiting.
  • Your local vets. It is worth asking your local vet as often unwanted or abandoned cats and kittens are taken there. Otherwise, they can recommend local rescue centres if they are aware of any available kittens.

By researching your decision to adopt a cat carefully you can maximise the chances of having a healthy cat who is happy with you, and you with it.

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