June is Adopt a Cat Month at the American Humane Society, so if you are considering adding a furry companion to your life, celebrate by visiting your local shelter. Spring is “kitten season,” and every year animal shelters fill up with loads of adorable newborn kitties and older cats in need of loving homes. Cats are excellent animal friends for all kinds of families and can add a daily dose of fun, relaxation, and love to your life!
Benefits of Shelter Adoption
Adopting a cat from an animal shelter is a great way to do a good deed and form a long-term bond with a furry friend. Whether you want to get a young kitten who’s bouncy and spry or you’re thinking about adopting an older, mellow kitty whose favorite thing is chilling on your lap and purring, shelter adoption really is the best way to go:
- Many shelters give cats their vaccinations, provide assistance with spay/neutering and in some cases, microchip your new family member for permanent identification.
- When you adopt a shelter cat, you can also get some great insights from the staff about your new friend’s personality and disposition. Well-trained and observant people who love animals often staff animal shelters, and they can really help you out when you’re trying to find a cat that is a good fit for your family!
Why Choose a Cat?
Cats are great pets because they fun-loving, friendly creatures with unique personalities. Cats also bond with humans really well, so when you adopt a cat you’re signing up for a lifetime of friendship with an animal that will love you and spend time playing and relaxing with you!
Here are just a few of the benefits of adopting a cat:
- When you have a cat, you’re never alone. Research shows that people who own pets are less likely to experience feelings of loneliness, which means that having a kitty in your home is good for your overall mental health! When you’ve had a rotten day at the office or need an all-around pick-me-up, cats deliver the goods.
- You may become more resistant to certain medical conditions. Although it sounds a little weird, owning a pet is linked to lower rates of heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has studied the health benefits of owning pets and found that people with pets have lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
- Your cat will love you (no, really!). For ages, people have described cats as aloof. As the old saying goes: “dogs have masters, cats have staff.” However, though that may be an image cats want to maintain, according to research by Paul Zak, a professor at the Claremont Graduate University, domesticated animals (and that includes cats) release oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” when they interact with people and other animals. Also, cats socialize with people in the same way that they connect with their mothers. Rubbing on us, lifting their tails, and that weird paw-kneading thing are all behaviors that cats do with their mothers when they are young.
- Cats are great pets for all kinds of people. When it comes to pet ownership, cats are an excellent choice because they do not need a tremendous amount of room and do not need constant attention. Although it’s very important to play with your cat and have a good snuggle whenever you can, cats are a good choice for people who might not have the time or space to care for a dog. Also, they’re less likely to be as noisy since they do not bark, so if you live in an apartment or want to keep noise to a minimum, a cat may just be the ticket.
- Kitties offer endless opportunities for fun! This one explains itself. When you have a cat in your life, you’ve got a good friend to play games and chill out with. Whether you’re having a couch potato afternoon or feel the urge to goof off, your cat will enjoy getting in on the action!
Adopting a Cat
So you’re now convinced you need a cat? Well, here’s what you need to consider when it comes to adopting your feline friend:
Adopt a cat whose personality is a good fit for your family
Like people, cats are all different and have unique personalities. Think about your lifestyle a little bit and talk with an adoption counselor at the animal shelter to find a cat that’s a good match for you. Is your home active and full of people, other animals, or children? It may be best to adopt an adult cat that is mellow and accustomed to lots of activity. Do you work from home and want a kitty that enjoys a lot of playtime? A kitten or grown cat with a boisterous personality might bring a smile to your face. Are you getting up in years and want a potato-hugger who will just snuggle you and purr for hours on end? Talk with the animal shelter staff and they can help you find a cat that loves to do precisely that.
Select a vet and schedule an appointment
Proper and regular, preventive medical care is just as important for kitties as it is for dogs and humans. When you adopt a cat from a shelter, you can get good information about your new friend’s health and any possible concerns. However, no matter what, you should schedule a visit to the vet right away once you’ve adopted your furry friend. This will give you a chance to learn more about your pet’s needs, address any issues, and give your kitty a chance to get to know (and love) your veterinarian!
Stock up on supplies
Cats don’t need a lot of gear; compared to getting a fish that needs a fancy tank, water filter, and pump, kitty ownership is a breeze, but there are a few things you should get before you bring your new furry companion home. You’re going to need cat food, a litter box, litter, food and water bowls, a cozy bed, a grooming brush, a toothbrush, nail clippers, a scratching post, and some cat-friendly toys for your new buddy. If you get these things in advance, it will be even easier for your kitty to settle in and feel right at home.
Encourage good habits
Cats sometimes pick up habits like scratching furniture or urinating in undesirable places, and it’s important to nip these things in the bud. When it comes to protecting your furniture, the best solution is to have a scratching post handy so your cat can enjoy sharpening her claws without ripping up your favorite armchair or couch. You can also put double-sided tape on vulnerable furnishings, and your cat will quickly learn not to scratch these items. Additionally, making sure that the litter box is sufficiently clean and comfortable will encourage your cat to use it. If you have more than one cat, you’re going to want to have more than one litter box, because cats sometimes have conflict about who gets to use the box. In general, you should have one litter box for each kitty, plus one extra. This will encourage good elimination habits and keep your cat from experiencing stress around litter box training and use.
Cat-proof your home
Cats are adventurous and love to explore, and so it’s important to keep your house as cat-proof as possible. Don’t leave food out on tables or counters, because your cat might learn that jumping up onto the furniture is a good strategy for finding snacks! Also, it’s a good idea to avoid blinds and curtains with long cords and tassels, because an over-enthusiastic cat could get carried away and end up ruining them, or worse, get injured!
Take your time with introductions
It may take your cat a little while to adjust to her new home, so take it slow and steady when it comes to introducing your cat to the people and other animals in your home. To start, it’s often a good idea to keep your cat in one room so he can get comfortable. Once your kitty has had a chance to get used to you and relax a little bit, then open up additional rooms for exploration. Before you know it, she will be the queen of your heart and your home!