How To Prepare for Your First Cat Adoption

Portrait of young woman holding cute siberian cat with green eyes. Female hugging her cute long hair kitty. Background, copy space, close up. Adorable domestic pet concept.

Key Points

  • Particular lifestyles lend themselves to certain cat breeds because some are more sociable or more independent than others.

  • Kittens require more attention because of their more frequent feeding schedule and need for engagement.

  • Several houseplants are toxic to cats, so remove them before your new cat moves in.

  • Buy necessary supplies like food and water bowls, a litter box and litter, toys, and scratching posts.

When bringing home a new family member, you never feel fully ready for the journey ahead. However, this article provides tips on preparing for your first cat adoption to make the trip a little easier. Following this guide gives you more confidence that you're on the right track; it provides everything you need to understand and prepare for, from the right questions to ask about potential new pets to the practical side of pet-proofing your home.

Adopting your first cat is thrilling, but it's important to fully prepare to ensure a smooth transition for you and your new pet. Once you know what to do and how to do it, just relax and enjoy your new pet.

Research Cat Breeds

When buying a new car, computer, or phone, you research which suits your lifestyle best. The same is true when you consider adopting a cat. Before adopting a cat, familiarize yourself with common cat breeds since each has unique traits, behaviors, and potential health issues to consider. Some felines, like Siamese cats, are friendly and require a lot of interaction. Others, like the British shorthair, need their independence.

Different cat breeds are susceptible to certain health issues. An Abyssinian, for example, is prone to kidney failure or dental disease. Research your preferred breed's health issues so you can spot early warning signs and provide the best healthcare possible. Understanding these breed-specific behavioral traits and potential health concerns helps you match the perfect cat breed to your lifestyle.

If you lead a busy lifestyle and spend most of your time out of the house, a self-sufficient breed like a Russian Blue is more suitable than the Siamese.

Determine the Right Age for Adoption

When looking at different ages of cats for adoption, consider the ages of your human family members. Your lifestyle, availability, and personal preferences are also factors in choosing the right age for adoption.

Matching a kitten with children allows them and the pet to grow together. However, kittens require more time and effort in feeding, training, and interaction than older cats. They require more supervision and need feeding several times a day. They need more attention and engagement to feel secure, but they're also more fun to play with and love following you around seeking attention.

Adult cats are typically lower maintenance and are more likely to curl up peacefully on your lap. They may also come with behavioral habits or sometimes health issues. Adult cats need less feeding and are generally more independent.

Prepare Your Home for a Cat

Before bringing a cat home, look around your home. You may even get down on your hands and knees, thinking and acting like a cat. It may seem silly, but don't worry; no one's looking.

Do you see those curtains? They look perfect for climbing, right? You may want to get a cat tree as an alternative. Put it near the window to give your cat a little entertainment and incentive to use it. Do you see that wobbly table with your grandmother's antique tea set on it? You may want to find a new home for that, especially since it's sitting on a table runner dangling off the edge like it's waiting to get pulled down.

If you feel like having a snack, that potted plant sure looks like a tasty treat. If the kitty is a Christmas present for the kids, that bright red poinsettia may be awfully tempting for the curious newcomer. Before the kitty comes home, research common houseplants that are dangerous for cats. If yours is on the list, find a new home for that lily or put it in a room that's off-limits to your cat — good luck with that. As a replacement, start your own cat-friendly garden.

A cat stands in a litter box.

Buy Necessary Supplies

Once you remove potentially dangerous items, replace them with supplies your cat needs. You don't want to wait until your cat arrives and then realize you must make an emergency trip to the pet shop.

The first essential item for your new cat is a litter box. For kittens, choose a box with low sides for easy access. Older cats probably appreciate a larger, covered box for privacy. Decide on the type of litter — clumping or non-clumping. Some litters even aid in detecting if your cat has any health issues. Consider an automatic litter box to handle the scooping if you have a busy lifestyle.

Nutritional Needs: Food and Water Bowls

Cats need their own food and water bowls. Stainless steel or ceramic dishes are highly recommended because they're sturdy, easy to clean, and free of potentially harmful chemicals often found in plastic dishes. They're also non-porous and don't harbor bacteria. For kittens, ensure the dishes are shallow enough for their small stature.

Many cats prefer moving or fresh water so a pet fountain may work better for your cat than a regular bowl. You can program some automatic feeders to provide meals while you're away. If you have more than one cat, make sure each one has their own bowls. Cats aren't known for their willingness to share.

Comfort and Stimulation: Beds, Toys, and Scratch Posts

A soft, comfortable bed gives your cat their own space in your home. Toys, such as balls and feather wands, provide vital mental stimulation. Scratch posts or pads serve the dual purpose of entertaining your cat and protecting your furniture. Select toys and scratching posts that are safe and suitable for your cat's age and size.

If you take your cat for walks, a TikTok video posted on July 17, 2023, recommends buying a harness. The video also provides several other great product recommendations.

Set Up a Vet Appointment in Advance

If you get a cat from a shelter, you don't always know the animal's health history. If they have any medical conditions, you want to get a jump on those and identify any allergies or diet restrictions they may have.

Setting up a vet appointment before your cat comes home is essential. Scheduling at the office may become backed up, so you want to get in at your earliest convenience. It's best to feed your cat what they're used to from the shelter, but ask your vet for their recommendation. If your cat needs a special diet, introduce it gradually as soon as possible.

A smiling veterinarian holds a cat.

Pet Insurance

Veterinary bills can be costly. Research pet insurance companies and ask your vet which ones they accept. Determine when coverage starts, how to submit a claim, and if they cover pre-existing conditions.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists several factors to consider when deciding whether or not to get pet insurance: "An insurance provider should clearly spell out to you the details, including the limitations and exclusions, of coverage for routine and/or wellness care, as well as emergency treatments and conditions that require extensive care. Find out how your premiums will increase as your pet ages or if you make any claims."

AVMA says that your vet should monitor your pet's health no matter what insurance you choose and to talk with your vet and research your options.

Learn About Basic Cat Care and Behavior

If you've never owned a cat, you've had an unfortunate life that's about to improve dramatically. You may not know the joy a cat brings. You may also be unaware of certain behaviors and quirks of cats. There are some generalizations regarding most cats, but they all have unique personalities.

Research the breed of cat you plan on adopting. If it's a mixed breed, read articles about common cat characteristics and mannerisms. Learn the signs of health problems and how to broom, bathe, and train your cat. Ask your vet for assistance in locating resources. You've already started in a good place by reading this article. Learn more about cat care and behavior by subscribing to Cattitude Daily.

Establish a Feeding and Grooming Routine

Cats thrive on routine. Knowing what to expect makes them more secure about their surroundings. A feeding routine is crucial since food is a necessity. Cats need to know they don't have to worry about their bare essentials. Not knowing when their next meal is coming causes anxiety.

Cats groom themselves regularly, which can cause hairballs in their digestive system. A cat with long or coarse hair has trouble digesting hair. It gets caught in their throat, producing hairballs and coughing and vomiting. Establishing a grooming routine removes loose hair and reduces the amount of hair your cat ingests.

Introduce Your Cat to Their New Home Gradually

When you abruptly remove a cat from their home, they may become confused and anxious. Make the transition to their new home as comfortable as possible. If you live in a larger home with multiple rooms, it's a good idea to limit their access to a portion of the house at first so they aren't overwhelmed. Once they're comfortable, allow them to explore.

If they have any items from their previous home, bring them along to foster a sense of familiarity. Give your cat a calming treat before returning home so they feel more relaxed.

You can expect a cat in a new environment to have a decreased appetite because they're nervous and insecure. Introduce them to the locations of litter boxes, food bowls, and water sources. Avoid moving them around, especially for the first week or so, until they get used to where everything is.

Prepared for a Loving Companion

Deciding to adopt a cat takes some thought. Once you make that choice, there are many things you need to do to prepare for the arrival of your new cat. Though unexpected things happen, at least cover the basics.

This article provides tips to ensure your cat successfully transitions into their new home. Besides preparing your home, prepare your heart for giving and receiving love from a new feline friend. In this case, the end really does justify the means. All your hard work and preparation is worth it in the end.

Subscribe to Cattitude Daily for more helpful tips on cat ownership and the products you need for your feline.

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