How Do I Adopt a Cat?

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

16 September 2016

How do I adopt a cat?

If you’re here, you already suspect that having a cat is the reason you were put on this earth. And you’re right: kitties are perfectly purrific pets. But, unfortunately, not everyone has come to this realisation yet, and every year tens of thousands of unwanted cats end up in animal shelters around Australia. Many of them will never find a home and will be euthanised. If, like us, the thought of that makes your stomach turn and eyes water, you should seriously consider adopting one of these affectionate animals. With your love and care, they’ll live a long and happy life.

Am I ready for a cat?

However, before you run out and adopt an entire litter, you need to ask yourself some questions - many of the cats that end up at shelters are there because their human didn’t think things through!

  • Am I in this for the long run?

A healthy, well looked after cat will live into its late teens and possibly even longer. So while that kitten may seem like a pawesome idea right now, you should be prepared to share your love with it for many years to come.

  • Can I afford a cat?

While the best things in life are free - the sound of your cat purring, for example - many of the items further down the list need to be bought. Kitty litter, food, toys, a cat enclosure, a scratching post and vet visits are all necessary expenses for the pet parent. The RSPCA estimates the cost of having a cat to be at least $880 a year, with more in the first year for things like beds, bowls and the like - although adopting a cat means that the costs of initial vaccination and desexing are taken care of.

  • Do I know how to care for my kitty?

Every animal comes with its own particular needs, and perhaps no animal is more quirky than our feline friends. Before taking on a cat, you need to do your research. Luckily, you’ve stumbled upon our Learning Centre! Read through some of our articles, and you’ll be able to answer ‘yes’ to this question in no time.

  • Do I have time to care for my kitty?

Knowing and doing are two different things! Cats need a lot of care and attention from their human servants (although some breeds need more than others). Grooming, feeding, playing with and training your cat all take time.

  • Is my home cat-friendly?

Some, more active cat breeds will need more space than others. If you live in a small home and already own a cat, consider the possibility that the two won’t get along - you may need an outdoor cat enclosure to provide boundaries.

  • Does a cat fit into my lifestyle?

Cats don’t just need your care, but your attention as well, and many cat breeds will become depressed if they don’t receive it. If you’re constantly out of the house, and leaving your cat alone for long periods, consider the well being of your animal, and whether it will be happy in your care.

What kind of cat should I get?

So you’ve answered yes to the above questions. Hooray! But not so fast, getting a cat is not a black-and-white situation, even if many cats are black-and-white. Be considerate to yourself and your future friend when choosing a feline to adopt by matching your cat with your lifestyle. Don’t adopt a cat without meeting it, since personality and fit is the most important thing, for example:

  • If you have kids, a playful, younger cat might be the way to go
  • If you have a busy lifestyle, a more relaxed older cat would be better
  • If you live in a noisy area, a timid cat isn’t the best choice

As cute as they are, kittens need a lot of care and attention, and they might not always be the right choice for you! In addition some breeds may be a better match than others, but ultimately every kitty is unique. The staff at the adoption centre know their animals best, and they will be able to help you find your purrfect match.

However, it may be that you have a particular breed in mind, or particular needs that you can’t satisfy through adoption. If that’s the case, don’t be tempted to settle! It’ll probably just mean that your kitty ends up back at the shelter: older, more stressed, and less likely to be re-adopted. Instead, check out our guide to finding a breeder, and get the cat that’s right for you. Alternatively, there are breed specific rescue organisations - they may have long waiting times, but good things are worth waiting for, and cats are the best thing there is.

What is the process for a cat adoption?

You should get in touch with the RSPCA or another reputable rescue organisation. From there, the process will vary, but generally, it looks something like this:

  1. Visit the shelter and meet their cats.
  2. Get advice in pairing up with the right feline.
  3. Choose the cat that’s best for you.
  4. Fill out an adoption application, and any other paperwork.
  5. Wait 24 hours, in which you can reconsider your decision. Make sure you’ve thought about the questions in the first part of this guide!
  6. Bring your new kitty home.

From there, it’ll be a slow process of getting your cat used to its new environment. Check out our guide to bringing your new kitty home, here. Our Learning Centre is always here if you need it!


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