Tips for Adopt A Cat Month: Shelter Cats Rock!

It’s National Adopt A Cat Month (sponsored by American Humane Association) and also National Adopt A Shelter Cat Month (sponsored by the ASPCA. Two holidays wrapped up in one, and how appropriate, since June is kitten season.

Whether you adopt a shelter cat or adopt a cat that shows up on the doorstep, they’re all worthy of love. Right? Here’s my tips guide for cat adoption.

Shelter Kitten

“Please take meowwweeeeee HOME!” Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Cat Adoption–How to Choose?

Today there are shelter cats available to suit every taste and circumstance. Boy or girl? Fluffy longhaired or short-and-svelte coat? Does color matter? What about age? Do you care what they look like, or is the c’attitude more important? Short fur sheds just as much as the long fluffy kind, but won’t tangle or require as much care on your part. Those longhaired beauties like Persians need combing every single day. There are even some paw-some non-shelter opportunities to adopt a cat.

For a lifetime of love, use both your head and your heart to do some kitty match-making. Be sure your lifestyle fits the cat of your dreams and vice versa.

Adopting Kittens

It’s kitten season, and nothing beats a kitten for cute-icity! There’s no doubt you’ll find your pick of the kitty litters right now. These pictures were taken at a local kitten adoption event, and there were FIVE TIMES the number of furry waifs you see here.

Kittens and cats often choose us. Rather than picking the “prettiest” baby, try this: Sit on the floor quietly in the adoption room, and let the kittens come to you. Roll a wad of paper to see which one pounces (or hides). You want the Christopher Columbus Kitten eager to explore new things–s/he will be healthier and less prone to stress compared to a Shrinking Violet kitten. And of course, get a vet check asap–you want to see bright clean eyes, clean fur, ears and bottom, and playful energy.

Shelter cat

Many shelters offer a discount for adopting pairs of kittens. Instant friendship! and they’ll target each other instead of your ankles, win-win for everyone! Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Age Matters When Adopting Rescue Kittens

While kittens can be non-stop fun, they’re also works-in-progress–and you cannot accurately predict adult temperament. Most kittens love to lap-sit, but many outgrow this behavior. So if you want a lifelong feline lap-snuggler, choose an adult cat with an established personality so you know what you’re getting. You’ll already know that the cat likes or dislikes dogs, other cats, children, lap-sitting, and playing.

Still, there are lots of baby cat adoptions going on, because in the past three weeks my Complete Kitten Care book has virtually pounced off the shelves! Age matters in new kitten development. While space concerns force shelters to adopt out kittens as early as possible, a shelter cat will have far fewer behavior problems if he stays with mom-cat and siblings until at least twelve weeks old.

If you adopt a kitten younger than this, you should either have a friendly adult cat in the house prepared to teach Junior how to be a proper cat–or you yourself must attempt to give these lessons. Refer to these 10 kitten adoption do’s and don’ts.

adopt a cat

Be prepared for cats to act different once you bring them home. Give shy kitties time to adjust. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Picking the Purrfect Cat Personality

A well-behaved cat probably means his Mom-Cat brought him up right. Cats learn from watching other cats how to groom themselves, use the litter box, scratch the right object, and inhibit clawing and biting during play. Humans fall short as teachers. You can get some tips in the ComPETability: Cats book for introductions and more.

But if you want a lifelong feline lap-snuggler, choose an adult cat with an established personality so you know what you’re getting. You’ll already know that the cat likes or dislikes dogs, other cats, children, lap-sitting, and playing. Besides, healthy adult cats live into their late teens (or beyond) so adopting a four-year-old lovely feline can mean a decade or longer of furry love!

There also is some fun new research that cat-egorizes some cat personalities and behaviors based on breed. You can check the article about cat breed personalities here.

The research paper can be found here.

shelter cat

Choose your pick-of-the-litteratti for a lifetime of furry love!

YOU SEXY CAT! CHOOSING YOUR SHELTER CAT

Short fur sheds just as much as the long fluffy kind, but won’t tangle or require as much care on your part. Those longhaired beauties like Persians need combing every single day.

Cat Facts: The Pet Parent's A-to-Z Home Care EncyclopediaAll kinds of speculation abound regarding behaviors associated with coat color or pattern. None of it has been proven one way or another. However, it is a cat “rule” that dark fur lands on light-colored clothing while light fur magnetically attaches to dark trousers. When a cat has both light and dark fur, like my Karma-Kat, owners learn to live with hair and consider it a condiment.

Boy cats tend to grow bigger than girl cats, but as long as they’re spayed or neutered (you’ll want to do this!), the behaviors tend to be similar. Intact males want to baptize everything with sprays of urine, and intact girl cats bring more furry babies into this world after yowling and pestering owners to death. How many of y’all have adopted kittens that were the results of a WHOOPS litter? Hey, you know what I mean…:) Every good intention in the world can get thwarted by a determined girl-kitty when she picks the locks with her rabies tag and trysts with that yummy-boy-cat-Romeo.

Benefits of Adoption Adult Cats & Senior Kitties

Lovely adult cats often get overlooked, but they’ve already learned these basic lessons and make outstanding pets. Due to the overload of animals, too many shelters have arbitrary age limits for euthanasia. Cats aged five and above may be euthanized automatically, even though they could be expected to provide a decade or more of companionship to a loving human owner. Adopt one of these kitties and you’ll save a life–adopt a bonded pair and you’ll truly be blessed. For help from birth to old age, you can pick up a copy of CAT FACTS: The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia.

Adult cats tend to be more sedate than kittens, and less inclined to climb curtains, attack toes, or conduct gravity experiments by knocking breakables off high spots. Don’t expect an adult shelter cat to “sell themselves” the way a kitten would. Remember that they’ve likely just lost their home, are scared and sad, and wondering what they did to make a beloved human go away. They need people to take a second look.

Adopting a senior kitty at age 10 or so could mean another decade or more of furry snuggles. Just look at Seren-Kitty? When she arrived as a baby, we had no idea she’d still be ruling the roost 21 years later!

ADOPT ANY TIME

You don’t need to wait for a special adoption month. Wonderful candidates of all shapes, ages, and sizes–even some pedigree kitties!–wait for you at area shelters all year long.

Two decades ago, my cat Seren-Kitty showed up on a friend’s back porch, and purred her way into my heart–and she lived with us for 22 years. Then five years ago, Karma-Kat decided to adopt us when he tried to dig his way through the patio window. May you be as lucky as my family to find the cat (or three) of your dreams!

KarmaHome

Sure, the youngest kittens may have cute-appeal, but don’t overlook older kittens or even adults. This is Karma, a few days after he arrived–at 8 months old, he probably wouldn’t have been chosen if at a shelter, since he was “so old.” Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

What’s your shelter cat “gotcha-day” story? Did you find the kitty of your dreams as a retired show cat? Feral rescue? Inherit her from an ailing in-law? What’s your best advice for those wanting to adopt during National Adopt A (Shelter) Cat Month?

Adopt A Cat


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  1. Our last cat we adopted/rescued has been with us for almost 13 years now. That being said, before this cat we had adopted a kitten and tragedy struck. Due to the people’s/organization lack of knowledge of cats/kittens our little kitten was with us for no more than a week. Why? She was flea dipped way to early. We tried to tell the people this but they wouldn’t listen. So if you’re not sure what age to flea dip them take the kitten to the vet promptly. Make sure the organization know what they’re doing too before you rescue/adopt.

    • Oh no, Chrystal! I’m so sorry for the loss of that first poor kitten. Today there are much safer flea products available, of course, but it’s ALWAYS best to have the kitten checked by a vet. Congrats on your 13 year old kitty!

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