Prepare for Adoption
Have you been thinking about adding a cat or two to your family? Wondering if you are ready?
First and foremost, make sure you are prepared to care for your new pet for its entire life – 15 to 20 years on average for an indoor cat. Hundreds of thousands of cats end up in local shelters each year because their owners did not carefully consider the responsibilities associated with having a pet. Many of these cats never make it out of the shelters alive. Do not let your cat become another sad statistic, make sure you can provide a loving home for the entire life of your cat before adopting.
While cats are usually thought of as low maintenance pets, there are still some lifestyle changes that need to be made when adding a cat or kitten to your household.
Can you make the necessary time commitment to your new pet?
While cats are considered to be independent, they still need love and companionship from their people. Before you commit to the long-term care of a cat or kitten, evaluate whether you have the time to devote to your new pet. An hour or so a few evenings during the week and part of most weekends is generally enough time to allow you and an adult cat to develop a caring bond. Kittens, on the other hand, require more care and attention.
Can you make the financial commitment to properly care for your new pet?
When adopting a cat, there are certainly more expenses to consider than just the fee paid to the shelter or rescue agency. Initial and ongoing, supplies, medical expenses, and care while you are out of town all need to be factored into the economic decision of whether or not to adopt a cat or kitten.
If this is your first cat, you will need to consider the cost of the following essential supplies:
- Litter, scoop and litter box(es)
- High quality cat food as well as food and water dishes
- Grooming supplies – brush, claw clippers, etc.
- Scratching posts of varying textures and design
- Cat carrier
Another factor to consider is that vet care is generally more expensive for kittens than adult cats. Adult cats generally only require annual exams and vaccines – rabies and distemper shots. Cats are very good at hiding illness, though, so it is very important that your cat be examined by a vet each year in order to detect disease early and improve chances for recovery with treatment. Once the signs of illness become visible to you, it may be too late.
Kittens generally require more initial visits to the veterinarian than adult cats – in part because kittens need a series of vaccines in their first year. Additionally, kittens have less developed immune systems and are more likely than adult cats to get sick.
Young kittens need three distemper shots, each 3-4 weeks apart, and then a rabies vaccine between 14 and 16 weeks of age. Between four and six months, your new kitties will need to be spayed or neutered. This surgery is important for the long-term health of your new pet – kittens spayed or neutered before reaching sexual maturity have a significantly lower risk of dying from reproductive cancer. Spaying or neutering your pet is the single most effective method to help avoid the development of hormone driven behavior problems.
Is your house adequately prepared?
While cats do not require a lot of space – they are often touted as the ideal pets for apartment living – you will need to make some changes before bringing kitty home. Make sure potentially dangerous items are put safely away, out of your cat’s reach – rubber bands, string, moth balls, curtain cords, poisons and shopping bags with handles. Also, be sure to make yourself aware of which household plants may be poisonous to your cat. The ASPCA maintains a list of poisonous plants.
Until you are familiar with your new pet’s habits, you will need to take additional precautions to ensure his safety and well being. Be sure to put breakable items in a location where your cat cannot reach them (remembering cats can jump). Some cats like to chew, so you may need take additional steps to protect wires with plastic coverings or bitter tasting spray (specially designed to deter pet chewing).
As you can see, the decision to adopt a cat or kitten should not be taken lightly. There are many important factors that should be considered when you are thinking about bring a new furry friend into your life. After weighing these and other factors, if you do decide to adopt, you will know that you are doing a beautiful and responsible thing by providing a life long home to a cat who, in turn, will be your devoted companion for many years to come.