Are you feeling the need for some four-legged companionship in your home? Do you think you are ready for a new pet? What about adopting a cat? That’s what I just did.
My sweet Carlos has been gone for a year and a half, and I decided I was ready for a new one.
About a week ago, I arrived home with my newly-adopted cat, found at the Gastineau Animal Shelter. This cat is actually an old acquaintance, and “old” is the important word here. He is 13 years old. I knew him as being a sweet cat, and I wanted to give him a couple of good years before he crosses that Rainbow Bridge.
So How Do You Choose A New Cat?
It dawned on me that folks might find it useful to read some suggestions on how to choose your new cat, and also some ideas on how to prepare your home to accommodate your new furry friend.
So how do you find the perfect cat for you? Here is a list of what to look for, from www.forallanimals.org. There are many factors to consider.
First, you need to find a cat with the right personality. Cats are all different, from quiet and cuddly to rambunctious and always ready to play. Just like people, their personalities can be quite varied.
Second, do you want a grown adult cat or a kitten?
Of course, kittens will mean more work for you. They will learn the litter-box technique with no trouble, but you will have to be ever-watchful. They will be into everything. Though the personality may change as the cat grows older, the kitten will require your patience and supervision.
Third, think of who else lives in your house. If there are other animals, adjustments must be made. The presence of dogs can cause problems for the cat. Small children need to be taught how to treat an animal properly so that neither the cat nor the child gets injured.
Then consider the fur fall — a short-haired cat will shed, but not as much as a long-hair. And, the long-hair needs to be brushed regularly, to prevent matting and hairballs. They need to be brushed daily, and sometimes you have to teach them to tolerate the brushing. If the fur gets too matted, you may have to find a professional groomer to shave the cat.
Do you have a lifestyle that allows for pets? Though cats are independent and can often entertain themselves, they do require daily care. You need to feed them and give them fresh water daily. Even if they don’t care much for petting, they still need companionship and play.
You May Need To Make Some Changes
Can you make the necessary modifications to your home? One thing to be aware of is that many plants are poisonous to cats, and as cats often tend to taste any plant growing in your house, it’s best to make sure they are not poisonous.
Check out this link to read of a number of houseplants that are lovely to look at and will not harm your cat.
Also, please remove anything that might hurt the cat. Remember, they are curious, and can get in trouble with their explorations. They could break something or they could be hurt, so prepare for their arrival.
If you go to a shelter to select your cat, ask questions. I got my cat at a shelter, and they were a font of information about the cat and how to take care of him. This free service is most helpful.
I received a comment from a reader about how expensive it was to adopt a cat from a shelter, and wanted to address the issue for all my readers. I am sure there are variations in the way things are done from one shelter to another. I can only speak from first-hand experience about the shelter where I got my kitty, Gastineau Humane Society in Juneau.
I was fortunate, and got my cat free, as they have a policy that seniors can have a senior cat at no cost. However, if I’d had to pay, it would have cost me a little over $200.00.
The cat was there for 7 months. The shelter had to feed him. He also received treatment from a vet. He contracted a urinary tract infection. He had two teeth removed. He was given antibiotic eye drops for a virus that made his eyes run. He was on C/D, which is the Hill’s Prescription Diet food for cats with urinary tract problems. This special food is not cheap.
The shelter runs on limited funding, and has to get back some of the money they spend on caring for a cat. Money is tight. Volunteers are used when possible to cut down salary expense. Yet, they were upbeat and helpful; they obviously cared about their residents. The shelter is clean and does not smell. When I took the cat home, they even sent some free food to get me started.
I think they do a remarkably good job, for very little money. Perhaps it will be helpful for you to know this extra information so you will be prepared to pay your kitty ‘s expenses.
Preparing For The New Resident
Okay, now you have a cat selected. You will bring him home in a couple of days. So what things will you need to do to prepare your house for the cat’s homecoming.
From https://www.petfinder.com, I found a fine article on preparing for the arrival of your cat. In fact, the article tells us the Boy Scout slogan, “Be Prepared,” should be our mantra for getting our home ready for Himself/Herself. Here are things you can do ahead of time:
Before you bring your cat home, start by preparing a small space — one room you can shut off would be good — so the cat can get used to that space before he is allowed to explore the rest of the house.
Make sure to put in a food bowl and fresh water, as well as a litter box. Add a chair for you, so you can visit the cat.
Fill the litter box with two or three inches of litter and put it in his room. Feed him away from the litter box.
Give him a safe space to hide. Perhaps you can use his carrier, or make a space by cutting a door into a cardboard box. I got my new friend a couple of felted wool cat caves to enjoy.
The newcomer may tend to be startled at first by the room door opening. Face the door of his hiding place toward the room door so he can see it if it opens
Give him something to use for a scratching post. You can also get covers for his nails so he won’t scratch things. It is important, however, to clip his claws yourself. If you don’t want to tackle that job, get them clipped at the vet’s. Read this post to learn about clipping claws: https://celebratingcats.com/do-you-know-how-to-groom-your-cat.
Please don’t consider declawing. It is a cruel procedure that is very painful to the cat, as the toe is cut off at the first joint. For more information about this horrible invasive procedure, read this post: https://celebratingcats.com/letters-to-lucinda-2-cat-behavior-solutions.
Make sure there is nothing lying about your house that the cat can break or destroy in some way. You could consider a cat tree, as this will give your cat a safe, high perch/bed from which he can observe all the goings-on below.
You can find a good selection of cat trees by going here.
Go over rules about the new pet with family members. Don’t let them startle him. Remind them to keep the door to his sanctuary shut. Introduce other pets gradually, in your presence.
When you bring kitty home, bring him in a carrier or some kind of container. Don’t try to carry him in your arms. Cats can develop super-cat strength if they are being held and want down.
Let kitty loose in the prepared room with the door closed. Sit down on the floor and let him come to you. Don’t force your attention on the animal. He needs to get acquainted on his own time.
If he is particularly frightened, he may want to stay in his hidey-hole. Let him adjust at his own speed. He will gradually become accustomed to all the newness.
He may not eat much at first. Give him the same food he is used to, at least at first, as he finds it familiar. Change water frequently and make sure he is drinking.
If the cat won’t eat or drink for a couple of days, call your vet to ask for advice.
Over the days that follow, kitty will get used to this new home. When he seems relaxed and comfortable in his “welcoming room,” let him out to explore the rest of the house.
Now enjoy your new family member. He will give you so much love and laughter. You are lucky, and so is he, as he now has a real home.