10 Tips to Share with Cat Owners-to-be During Adopt-a-Cat Month
To help promote Adopt-a-Cat Month, an observance that takes place every June, the American Humane is spearheading a campaign that focuses on adopting a “pandemic pet” from a shelter.
“Shelters are swamped in the best of times, and more and more staff in every sector of American life self-quarantining and falling ill, animals already abandoned and without homes are increasingly vulnerable,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane. “At the same time, so many of us, especially the elderly, are coping with the loneliness, stress and anxiety that comes with isolation and sheltering in place so necessary during a pandemic. Why be home alone when you can snuggle up with a loving new buddy? You might save a life, improve your own during these trying times and end up with a new best friend.”
American Humane officials have put together a “Top 10 Checklist for Adopting a Cat.”
- If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two. Cats require exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other.
- Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. In general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the individual cat’s personality with your own.
- Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit. Due to their immaturity, kittens in particular should accompany you to make the appointment—even before the exam itself—so staff can pet the cat and the animal will have a positive association with the veterinarian’s office.
- Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before your new pet comes home. Visiting the shelter, rescue group or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction.
- Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and that there’s a cost associated with it. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines and a microchip for permanent identification. Plus, shelters and rescue groups are there to offer guidance and assistance as you acclimate your new family member.
- Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, a good-quality cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers.
- Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).
- Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded in a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings. This is particularly important if you have other pets. If you’ve adopted a kitten, socialization is very important. But remember, take it slow.
- Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list, and be sure to have a several-day supply of your pet’s food and medications on hand.
- If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process. Though well-meaning, the surprise kitty gift doesn’t allow for a “get-to know-one-another” period. Remember, adopting a cat isn’t like purchasing a household appliance or a piece of jewelry—this is a real living, breathing and emotional being.
Adopt-a-Cat Month is part of a larger effort by American Humane to focus on and help solve the unique challenges and issues felines face. Although cats have often been referred to as America’s “Most Popular Pet,” with an estimated 94 million living in 47 million U.S. households, they receive less veterinary care, have less research dedicated to their unique health/behavioral issues, are more likely to be feral, and are more likely to be euthanized in shelters than dogs, according to American Humane officials.
“There are literally millions of reasons to rescue a cat in need during our Adopt-a-Cat Month … and at every other time of year,” Ganzert said. “You can find every one of them at your local shelter or rescue and, with time, each will give you a million reasons to be glad you did.”
American Humane is also inviting the public to support its “Feed the Hungry” campaign, which has already delivered more than 300,000 meals to shelter animals during the pandemic. Details can be found here.