The time has come for you to expand your family and adopt a new cat: congratulations! Making the decision to adopt a kitten or cat is an exciting one, but it can also be a little nerve-wracking, especially if this is your first pet.
Before you head to the shelter to bring your new pet home, there are a few things you’ll want to prepare ahead of time, as well as a few things to know so you’re ready for the adventure ahead. Here are some tips to get you completely prepared.
Supplies you’ll need
Cats need a few important things for their day-to-day lives, and it’s easiest to purchase these things before adopting your cat. Having these things right away helps your cat get to know the space and feel at home immediately and helps minimize issues like house soiling and stress.
Make sure you purchase these items before bringing your kitty home:
- Litter box, litter and a scoop
- Cat bed and blanket
- Cat carrier
- Food and water bowls
- Food appropriate for your cat’s age
- Scratching post
- A few toys
- Cat brush
- Pet nail clippers
Don’t start buying everything you see for your cat right away. Unless you are intimately familiar with your cat’s personality and preferences, you could waste a lot of money purchasing toys it’s uninterested in or treats it won’t eat. You can always get new items later.
In addition to the abovementioned supplies, another thing you’ll want to do is find a veterinarian in your area. Ask family and friends or look online for vets close to your home and find one that you like, so you’re prepared to take your cat in for an initial check-up or if there are any medical emergencies shortly after adoption.
Things to ask at the shelter
If you haven’t already discussed the cat you’re adopting with the shelter staff or volunteers, make sure you get some more information about the animal when you’re there to pick it up. Make sure to ask about the following.
- Health information: Ask about the cat’s health history, including whether the cat has been spayed or neutered, if it’s vaccinated and if it’s had any recent medical problems you should be aware of. This question helps you plan for potential expenses, especially if you’re adopting a kitten that will require spay/neuter surgery and multiple rounds of vaccines when it gets old enough.
- Microchipping: Many shelters will give the cat a microchip when it visits the vet initially, but not all will do this. If your cat is microchipped, make sure the shelter gives you the information for it. If not, you should make plans to have a microchipped placed so your new cat can easily be identified if it gets lost.
- Diet: Ask the shelter about what food the cat has been eating and/or what food they recommend. Sticking with the shelter’s food can help avoid upsetting your kitty’s stomach. Some shelters may send you home with a food sample so you can make the adjustment to different food more easily.
If you have any other questions related to cat ownership, be sure to ask them during the adoption process. Shelter staff are very familiar with animals and will be happy to inform you about anything you’re unsure of so you can be the best cat parent possible.
Getting your kitten adjusted to its new home
When it’s finally the day to visit the animal shelter and bring your new kitty home, you’ll probably be very excited. However, you must remember that the process will likely be more scary than exciting for your cat. Traveling, moving to a new space and being around unfamiliar people can be very stressful for cats, and your cat will need time to adjust to its new home.
Make sure you bring your cat’s new carrier with you to the shelter, so it has a comfortable space to return home in and gets use to the carrier right away. When you arrive back at your home, place the carrier in a small room, like a bathroom or office, that contains your cat’s food, water and litter box. Also make sure that this room is kitty-proofed!
Open the carrier door and let your cat emerge on its own. For the first day, it’s a good idea to keep your cat in this room so it can get comfortable. Sit with your cat for some time and let it get used to you and the new space. Begin implementing routines with your cat, such as feeding times.
Give your cat time to adjust—it may act shy or fearful for a while, but after a few days, it should begin to warm up and feel more comfortable. You can let your cat out of the initial room when it seems ready to explore more. Make sure to always provide your cat with a safe space to retreat to, such as its carrier in the initial room.
Every cat adjusts on its own schedule; some cats are comfortable in two days, while it takes others two months to really settle in. Just make sure to give your cat a lot of love and attention, as well as quiet time and personal space.
With all this information, you should be ready to go adopt a cat and bring it home!