Choose Well When Your Rescue a Cat

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains the method to finding a shelter cat that's right for you.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC | Posted: May 20, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: My husband and I want to rescue a cat from either a shelter or a rescue group. Neither of us ever had cats before, but we both love cats and now that we live in our own home, we think it is time we take the plunge. We do not know where to begin, but we do know we want to adopt or buy either a young adult cat or an older adult cat. We also have decided that the cat will live strictly indoors. We do not know what breed of cat to adopt or what to consider when choosing our new cat. Can you help us?

A: This is a timely question since June is Adopt a Cat Month!

Start your cat quest by researching cat breeds and cat care and by examining your lifestyle needs before adopting a cat. The new cat needs to fit well in your life and should enhance your life as much as you enhance hers.

Gather as much information as you can about the personality traits, activity level and maintenance needs of different breeds. Additionally find out about cat diseases and genetic disorders that may be prevalent in particular breeds. That does not mean that the cat you adopt will have a problem, but be aware of the possibilities.

Check out the activity levels of the different cat breeds with an eye toward what works with your lifestyle. Some cat breeds are more active than others. They love to play and interact with everyone and everything around them and may have little interest in marathon lap-sitting. Other breeds of cats prefer to live a more sedentary life, happily napping on the bed or lounging on their favorite person’s lap.

Coat maintenance is also a consideration when choosing a cat to adopt. Longhaired cats are beautiful, but they do require daily grooming in order to keep their fur from becoming tangled and matted. Shorthaired cats, although they should be groomed, do not need daily grooming sessions.

How much time, on a daily basis will you spend with your cat? If you and your husband are away from the house for hours every day, consider adopting a bonded pair of cats. A bonded pair of cats will keep each other company while you work. Also, make sure you have time every day to play and cuddle with your cat or cats. Cats enjoy socializing with their favorite people.

Are you willing to take on a bit more of a challenging cat? Shy cats and special needs cats may need a little more work, but are well worth the effort.   

Shelters and rescue groups are wonderful places to adopt cat breeds. They have both breed cats as well as moggies up for adoption. Additionally, there are rescue organizations that specialize in rescuing specific breeds of cats. Other rescue groups will help any cat, no matter the breed or non-breed. Shelters and rescue groups both encourage potential adopters to get to know the cats who catch their eyes and hearts before bringing them home. Most shelters have get-acquainted rooms and rescue groups encourage potential adopters to meet the cats at the foster’s homes or at the rescue facility.

Everyone in the family should be included in these special one-on-one meetings with the cat. When a cat does capture your heart, find out as much personal history about the cat as possible. Also, request vet records. The cat’s history and vet records will give you little clues about the cat’s personality and if there are any medical or behavior concerns. The records may also include the vaccination and spay/neuter history. Some cats have not been seen by a vet. In those cases, make arrangements to take the new cat to the vet for vaccinations and if necessary, spay/neuter.

Being armed with information before you meet all of the wonderful cats in need of homes will help you make the right decision. Although, expect when it is time to decide who to bring home, your heart will be the guide.

Read more articles by Marilyn Krieger here>>

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Reader Comments

Shirley    Tucson, AZ

5/23/2011 3:45:26 PM

Great advice. Thanks.

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

5/23/2011 5:22:31 AM

Great Advice. Also, just a plain old cat with no pedigree makes a WONDERFUL fur baby.

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