A Guide To Adopting A Cat
You have thought about adopting a cat long and hard, researched the pro’s and con’s and still decided you would love to adopt. Brilliant, this guide is all you need to help you through the adoption process, written by people who have cats in their families and been through the process.
First Off, A Quick Summary On The Key Points Of Owning A Cat
1 – The average lifespan of a cat is 13 to 17 years of age and can go past 20 years, if you adopt a kitten you will have a partner for many years. Adopting an adult cat will reduce the years but you will still be committing to a long term relationship. No relationship is made in days and these years will see you and your cat come together and repay you for that commitment.
2 – Adoption fees vary and can amount to £75 but your cat will be neutered £40-£100, vaccinated £40+, flea/wormed and microchipped £20+ and will be checked over by a vet. You will also be given your furry partners history, as best the adoption centre can give, so this one off fee does cover a lot.
3 – The Cat Home Kit will include things like a bed, bowls, carrier, brushes, etc., most will last you years so this is an upfront cost and the total amount will greatly depend on you. A bed could be a box with a nice warm towel, food and drinking bowl your old cereal bowls. Or, you could buy the whole kit and look to spend £100 to get your cat home happy, (see our suggested kit list below)
4 – Ongoing costs include:
- Food, wet food pouches plus dry food about £1 p/day or £365 per year for medium branded cat food
- Annual vaccinations £40, worming and flea treatment £50
- Health insurance, for a ten-year-old cat about £25 per month and depends on the cat, age, cover, postcode, etc., and expect annual increases. Or, save what you can into a saving account or investment plan but make sure you can access it quickly if the need arises
- Cat litter for one cat £3-£4 per week
5 – If you can’t take your furry mate with you on your holidays, it will need extra planning and cost. This will depend on whether a friend can look after your cat or you’ll need to arrange for them to stay at a cattery, approx £12 per day.
6 – During the adoption process be prepared for questions about your lifestyle and have your home inspected, please don’t think this is being intrusive. The adoption centre has only one aim, to find you your perfect partner. They know their cats, their temperament, needs, background and with your answers will have a far better chance of ensuring a successful adoption with you, (a little like blind dating but with help).
Adoption is a two-way thing and you need to have your questions answered as well. Why is the cat in their adoption centre and where has the cat been living (at the adoption centre or foster home)? Any health problems? Has it spent a lot of time around people? If it doesn’t work out what is your return policy?
7 – Adopting an older cat is less demanding than adopting a kitten. They are more relaxed which may suit your hectic lifestyle better and if you have children more robust for their love cuddles.
8 – If you have other pets, a cat or dog, they have to be considered and a cat that has experienced living with other cats or dogs may be better for adoption.
9 – Adopting a cat is the best thing you can do, you will not only be giving a cat a home of its own but also a family of its own. You will also give another cat a chance of achieving this because the adoption centre will have a space to take another in (unfortunately there is always another cat waiting to fill the vacancy). So give yourself a big pat on the back.
Still reading, fantastic, now for the easy read on getting your new partner home and comfortably settled in.
A change of environment is always stressful for a cat, new surroundings, people they don’t know, all new scents. It must be like going to a party where you don’t know anyone, you want to find somewhere quiet so you can observe your surrounding before joining in. Give your cat time, it will often take a few weeks for them to feel relaxed in their new home. Here are a few tips that will help them to successfully adapt to their new surroundings.
Transporting Your New Cat Home
If possible give the adoption centre one of your old well worn smelly unwashed garments, (yuck, we know but this can really help), that they can place with your cat days before you collect them so they get used to your smell. Use this garment in the cat carrier when you transport them home. Set aside a quiet secure room with everything they need in it before you go and collect your cat. This should include:
- Separate food and water bowls
- Litter tray placed away from their food and water
- Scratching post and a few toys
- Access to a high spot where they can view their surroundings
- Somewhere to sleep/hide, a box with a warm towel, an old jumper behind a sofa or, the carrier you brought them home in with the door open and your old garment left inside
- There are natural de-stress and calming sprays, Pet Remedy, that can help calm your cat during the move from the adoption centre but as cats rely heavily on scent this is why the smelly garment is so important for your cat to travel with.
Your Cat Is Home
When you arrive home leave your cat alone to explore their room for an hour before introducing yourself. After about an hour go to see them, sit or lay on the floor and put out your hand and call their name. It is important to let them come to you and if this doesn’t happen on the first visit leave and try again later. Sit and talk quietly to them and if you get no reaction try the process again a little later. Give them plenty of time to adjust and get used to your presence and check they are eating, drinking and using the litter tray during this process. Your cat might not eat much, to begin with, but as they acclimatise to their new surroundings their appetite should return. If possible feed them the same food they’re used to giving them as much familiarity as possible. If there is a problem with eating move the feeding and water bowl a little closer to their hiding place.
After two or three days you should find your cat is happy to come to you when you go in and sit on the floor and talk to it. Starting to play with your cat now helps the bonding process further. Introduce your cat to a few toys and grooming brushes, let them smell and examine them before using them. A toy mouse on a string pulled across the floor is a favourite and you can begin grooming with a few brush strokes to start with.
Once your cat is comfortable in their room and is happy with your visits give them the opportunity to explore more of your house. Leave the door to their room open so they can retreat at any time back into it. Ensure all windows and external doors are closed before you attempt this. Let your cat come out of their room of their own accord, preferably at a quieter time, and keep any other pets out of the way for now.
Time To Meet The Family
By now a week could have gone past and you and your furry friend are getting along well but you keep hearing “What about us” from the rest of the family. The time has come, and no doubt your cat will have heard these unknown people anyway. Basically, it is the same process you followed and acceptance should be quicker as you will be present at all times reassuring your cat. Again, let your cat come to them, introduce them one at a time so they don’t get overwhelmed. If there are children try not to let them get too excited and to talk to the cat softly, we know, almost Mission Impossible, and best not to pick up the cat just yet. Follow this through for a few days, letting the cat go to them, speaking softly to it and a few tickles and strokes. By the end of the second week, you should start to see your cat nosing around your house and greeting the rest of the family.
The Great Outdoors!
If you’re re-homing an outdoors cat, wait for at least two/three weeks before letting them out. You should now have your cat into a feeding routine so they know at what time of day they can expect to be fed. This is very important for an outdoor cat because when you first let them out it should be before a meal so that they have reason to come home soon. Allow them to explore the garden for a while before encouraging them back with a treat/meal. Gradually increase the time between when you let your cat out and meal time throughout the week.
Start a file and include registration/contact details for your cat with a local vets for annual vaccinations and checkups. Collar ID tag registration details, Tag ID number and contact details. Microchip registration details, number and contact details. Making up and keeping up to date this one little file will save you a lot of panic/distress if your cat is ill or lost.
You can also keep details of your cat’s breed, pictures, details of special moments, anything about your cat actually.
A Happy Life With A Cat
Your family and the new furry family member will by now have happily settled down. We guarantee you will never be short of a story to tell at a dinner party, never have an empty picture frame, never be short of a smile or laugh, even if it is at the cat’s expense and have so many treasured memories for the rest of your life.
Cat Supply Checklist
- Premium-brand cat food
- Food dish
- Water bowl
- Interactive toys
- Safety cat collar with ID tag
- Scratching post or scratching pad
- Litter box and litter
- Cat carrier
- Cat bed or box with warm blanket or towel