A guide on adopting the ‘purr’fect lifelong feline companion by Kris Hill from the Society for Companion Animals (SCAS)
If you are thinking of bringing a new cat or kitten into your home, that’s great! But like any long-term commitment it’s best to take a moment to consider what that entails. It’s worth making a list of your expectations, circumstances, and life plans, and what you can (or cannot) provide for a cat.
Sadly, 60% of cats entering UK shelters are relinquished by their owners, mostly due to changes in circumstances, behavioural problems, or allergies. Here are five considerations to help ensure you and your future cat enjoy a lasting and mutually agreeable relationship.
- Expectations: what do you want from your new feline companion?
If you had a cat previously, you may be expecting your new cat to be just like them. However, just like humans, cats have unique personalities and different needs.
A timid cat will struggle to adjust to a household with a lot of noise or people coming and going, and a boisterous young cat may not get enough stimulation being confined to a small apartment or left alone for long periods. If your household has young children, a dog, or other cats, it is important that your new cat is not fearful of them.
If you plan on having children, it is a good idea to seek advice on socialising a new kitten to children to avoid causing stress in your cat and behavioural problems when circumstances change. Responsible shelters will also determine whether an adult cat is happy (and safe) around small children, dogs, or other cats, and help match them to suitable homes.
Do you expect your cat to go out, or do you intend for them to stay inside? A cat who is used to roaming may not be happy being confined. Some cats cannot go outside due to health reasons, and others have a predisposition that lends them to the indoor life. Responsible adoption will ensure a good match.
2. What can you offer a feline companion?
Your cat will also expect things from you. Most important is a lifelong commitment. A cat can live for over 20 years, so it is worth considering how your life may change and if you are prepared to make concessions. Before you start looking, you should determine if you or anyone in your household is allergic to cats, and be realistic about how manageable that is going to be.
Not everyone can provide a safe outdoor environment where a cat can enjoy an idyllic life of chasing butterflies, but enough forethought regarding enrichment can ensure many exclusively indoor cats have a good life. Shelters who offer cats for adoption will also want to know what you can provide for a cat and help you find one whose needs you can meet.
You should also check your budget and savings to ensure you can cover the costs of the cat’s basic needs (food, litter, medical care), as well as additional costs such as professional cat sitters or temporary boarding. It costs at least £70 a month to care for a cat.
3. Where will you find your new feline companion?
A reputable animal shelter is the best place to find the right cat for you. In the UK, organisations such as Cats Protection, RSPCA, Blue Cross, or Battersea have cats’ best interests at heart, and screen potential adopters to ensure the cat is going to a suitable home.
You may know someone who is looking to rehome their cat or kittens, but do not make the mistake of thinking this is a cheaper option, or feel pressured into taking on a cat you cannot adequately provide for. Cats Protection charges an adoption fee of £75, which includes neutering, microchipping, vaccinations, and flea and worm treatments. A veterinary practice could charge more than double that amount to perform these essential services on a newly acquired ‘free’ cat or kitten.
4. Have you considered all possibilities?
While kittens are fun and adorable, they only stay kittens for a fraction of their lives. It may be that your expectations and what you have to offer are better suited to an older cat.
An adult cat’s personality has already developed, so you’ll know if they are a good fit for your family. Here are just some reasons why an older cat might be a great choice for you family. Furthermore, adult cats spend longer in shelters with many older cats living out their last days there.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also want to think about adopting a special needs cat.
5. Welcoming your new cat home!
Hopefully you will find the ‘purr’fect cat for your family. And when you do, here is a handy guide from Cats Protection on how to prepare and help your new cat settle in.
SCAS is the UK’s leading human-companion animal bond organisation through funding research, providing education, raising awareness, encouraging best practice, and influencing the development of policies and practices that support the human-companion animal bond. For more details check out our website at www.scas.org.uk.
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SCAS was established in 1979 to promote the study of human-companion animal interactions and raise awareness of the importance of pets in society.
Over the past forty years SCAS has established itself as the UK authority in Human-Companion Animal Bond Studies, funding research, providing education, raising awareness, encouraging best practice, and influencing the development of policies and practices that support the human-companion animal bond.
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