Shelter Cat Adoption Tips for National Adopt A Shelter Cat Month

It’s National Adopt A Cat Month and whether you adopt a shelter cat or find a furry waif on the doorstep, they’re all worthy of love. Right? Here’s my annual tips guide for cat adoption.

shelter cat

Karma-Kat showed up on my back patio. Cat lovers find furry “gold” at shelters, too!

Hey, I know that I’m preaching to the choir. But area shelters overflow especially with kittens this time of year—and so do back yards and alleys. June is the purr-fect time to celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month (sponsored by American Humane Association) and National Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month (sponsored by ASPCA). The ASPCA also has help to create YOUR adopt a shelter cat campaign in your community. Check it out here. 


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? 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.


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. Despite that fact, there must be a boatload of kittens being adopted–the past 3 weeks my Complete Kitten Care book has virtually pounced off the shelves!

Age matters. 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.

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!

shelter cat

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


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.

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.


Old 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!

My Siamese wannabe Seren(dipity) showed up on a friend’s back porch–a dumped kitten–and purred her way into my heart. We shared a pillow for 21 years. And about five years ago, Karma-Kat came to me in the same way, and I hope we’ll have double-digit years together, too. May you be so lucky as to find the cat of your dreams!


Cat Facts: The Pet Parent's A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia

Your kitten-to-senior guide for all-things-cat!

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.

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?

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Shelter Cat Adoption Tips for National Adopt A Shelter Cat Month — 10 Comments

  1. I got my cat from a cage free shelter. She and her sister tricked me into thinking they were cuddle cats. My husband was unsure about cats so I did a scouting mission. The shelter convinced me to take them home on a trial basis. I think it was love at 1st site for my husband. Unfortunately one of the cats ran away a couple years ago and all attempts to find her have failed. Her sister, Lucky, has thrived once she got over her grief. I’ve debated bringing another cat into the family but I’ve begun to travel for a few weeks every month and its hard on the cats to either just have my husband at night or someone who stops by every few days to feed, water, scoop liter.

    • So sorry you lost one of your cats, but glad that Lucky continues to do well. Some cats do just fine as “only” cats–and if you’re kitty-human relationship is terrific right now sometimes it’s best not to mess with success! 🙂 I’m always urging folks to adopt…but your first responsibility is to the kitty that already owns your heart (and pillow, LOL!). You can introduce a new cat to your resident kitty often with success, but it takes planning. Let me know if you decide to bring in another feline friend and I can point you to some resources.

  2. Amy I enjoyed this blog so much. You know all 3 of my cats are lap sitters. The youngest one is very jealous if the 2 older ones get the lap. He will jump on the lap too – no matter who else is there . Now my sweet Thomas will go with the flow. It’s a different story if Macy is lap sitting and the youngster comes up. She will leave. I’m so encouraged by your book bouncing off the shelf because that tells me lots of kittens are going to have a great life and the owners will love this book. My feral cat I feed outside sprayed the corner of the house the other day. Then he goes out courting the ladies for 3 days and nights and comes home wore out, hungry and a boo boo on his head and tail from fighting with other toms. I want to get him fixed but don’t know how I would get him to the vet.

    • So glad you’re enjoying the blog post, Patricia. And boy oh boy, that feral Romeo sure can get himself banged up! You might want to check with the local shelter about borrowing a Have-A-Hart trap (live trap) to catch him and transport. That’s what most of the TNR groups have to do. That way he can get his vaccinations, too, and be much safer/healthier.

  3. I adopted littermates who were abandoned in midwinter in Montreal, unable to move due to matting, in a laundry basket closed up with tape. They found their way to a rescue that specializes in purebreds (my two are Persians) where they were cleaned up and given necessary medical care. They were inseparable and still are! Because one of them is, to put it nicely, assertively demonstrative in his affection, I was tested by the rescue to make sure I could deal with this. The other one developped colitis (IBD of the lower intestine), which is under control via medicine and diet. They are true love muffins, named Humphrey and Bogart by the shelter. Guess which one is the demonstrative one? My advice — two is better than one, especially if they are a bonded pair.

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