Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
Have you been considering adopting a pet? Yearning for companionship and the comfort that comes with owning a pet, but not quite sure you have the time to devote to training a puppy or a dog? Maybe a cat or kitten is right for you. If you're considering adopting a feline, you're not alone; there are more than 80 million cat owners in the United States.
Animal shelters are typically overrun with cats and kittens looking for a forever home. With time and diligence you can find the perfect feline for your family. In addition to adding to your family with a loving companion, you could potentially be saving a life! As the owner of four kitties; two adopted as older cats from a rescue, one kitten adopted from the local shelter and one kitten adopted from a roadside fruit stand, I know from experience they are not as aloof as portrayed. My Lucy greets me at the door and follows me around the house just as frequently as Henrietta the Diva Poodle does.
If you're considering adding a feline furbaby to your home, here are my tips on what to consider and look for when visiting a shelter:
- Do you want a cat or a kitten? Kittens are adorable, but they are prone to fits of destruction when bored and it can manifest in climbing the curtains, jumping on the ceiling fan (yes, Lucy has done that!), scratching furniture, etc. Kittens don't need as much training and attention as a puppy would, but they still need to be taught to be good citizens and that means teaching them where it is, and is not, appropriate to scratch (yes, cats can be taught). Kittens (and cats) are fun, lively and entertaining. An older cat is usually calmer and you will have a better idea of what her personality will be — you don't have to wait for her to grow into it. Don't assume than an older cat was surrendered because of some bad habit (although that does happen), owners surrender pets for myriad reasons, many of which have nothing to do with the animal itself.
- Visit your local shelter or cat rescue organization. Spend some time looking at the various cats
and kittens. You may be drawn to a particular cat because of its color, or whether it's a long hair or a short hair cat, or how it responds to you — that is a good way to begin narrowing your options. Bring your family with you to help with the selection; you need to find a cat or kitten that responds well to your children. A cat or kitten that hisses at your two-year-old will likely not be a good fit for your household. You're looking for a cat that responds to you and doesn't appear scared of your children.
- Spend time with a few kitties to determine which will be a good fit. Ask to take the cat or kitten out of its cage and find an area at the shelter in which you can spend some time with the him. Remember that animals in a shelter are scared of the noises and the smells so prepare for the cat to take a little while to warm up to you. Although, there are some cats that are so friendly that they may begin bonding with you the moment you're in a room alone with them. Spending time
petting and talking to the cat or kitten will give you insight into its personality.
- Ask the shelter whether they know if the cat you're considering will get along well with dogs or other cats. Shelters have intake forms that they fill out on the pets that are brought in. The intake forms are the lifeline to making certain the cat you adopt doesn't have to be brought back because you weren't informed that the it doesn't like dogs.
- After you've decided on which cat or kitten you will want to adopt, you will fill out paperwork and pay an adoption fee. The fee typically includes the cost of spaying and neutering. An older cat will usually cost less than a kitten and will be spayed or neutered when you adopt. Some shelters will spay and neuter before they even allow you to bring the kitten home. Ask the shelter whether there is a "return policy" on the cat you're adopting. While no one wants to have to bring a pet back, there could be situations in which the pet just simply doesn't fit into your household. We urge all who are considering adoption, though to make certain they are prepared for the commitment that comes with it so that the pet doesn't have to be returned.
Once you've adopted your new feline family member, you may be wondering, "Does my cat like me?" Here are some fun facts to let you know:
- Does she stare at your and then squint or blink? This is considered a sign of affection. In the feline world blinking at another cat is a sign that the cat is not afraid, because during the blink he is vulnerable. If he blinks at you, blink back!
- Does he meow or howl when you leave the home? You may not hear it but if a family member says it happens, that means your cat is missing you when you're gone.
- Does she follow you around? If you find your cat weaving in and out of your feet when you walk,
that is a sign of affection.
- If you're sitting down and your cat comes over and nudges her head under your hand or rubs her
head on you, that means she is "marking" you as her territory.
- Does your cat show you his belly? This shows his trust in you. Don't think this necessariily means he wants a full belly rub — most cats don't enjoy this.
- Does your kitty bring you "gifts" of dead birds or mice? This is a cat's way of showing he can contribute to the household. Praise him for the gift before disposing of it.
We'd love ot know how many cats or kittens you have. Did you adopt? What do you love best about being a cat owner (or being owned by a cat!)