How to Adopt a Cat and Care for It

Why not adopt a cat? If you are considering adding a furry friend to your family, adopting a cat from a shelter is a great way to do it. There are thousands of kitties in shelters around the country just waiting for a loving family of their own. It isn't difficult to adopt a cat from a shelter, but it does require a little bit of preparation on your part.

Preparing to Adopt
Contact your local shelter to find out what kind of information and documentation you need to provide. Having everything ready will make the process go much smoother. You will also need to fill out an application, and you may need to provide a reference. The shelter will help you find the perfect match for your family and lifestyle, so it is a good idea to bring the whole family along when choosing a new pet.

If you rent your home, be aware that shelters will require a note from your landlord and will call to verify that cats are allowed. You'll also pay a fee for adoption, which varies from shelter to shelter. This fee typically includes all shots and spaying or neutering.

Preparing for the Homecoming
Before you bring your new addition home, be sure to look around your home for anything that might be dangerous for cats or that you wouldn't want kitty to damage. Be particularly careful about houseplants. Many common plants can be deadly if your cat decides to take a bite. 

Next, you will need to set up a litter box for your kitty in an area that is easy for her to get to, but is also out of the way of foot traffic. She will also need dishes for food and water. Dishes made of ceramic or stainless steel with a wide base prevent tipping and make clean up easier. You will need to get a cat brush and some nail clippers for grooming. Lastly, a scratching post and a few little kitty toys will help your kitty feel at home.

Becoming a Family
Spend lots of time with your new kitty, to help her bond with you and adjust to her new surroundings. While some cats become a member of the family right away, others need a little more time to get used to you before they will enjoy being picked up and cuddled.

Don't be surprised if your cat runs and hides for the first few days at home. Moving to a new location is stressful, and cats will seek out a good hiding place until they feel comfortable. You may hear some howling on the first few nights, and it's not uncommon for cats to refuse food and water for their first days in a new home. If you can figure out where kitty is hiding, placing food and water near that spot will coax her to come out.

Start slowly. Never rush toward the cat, let him come to you. Try offering treats, and when he is ready, try gently stroking him. As you continue to care for and bond with your new cat, he will grow to accept you as his human "parent", and you will be one big happy, loving family.

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