Our 2023 Guide to Adopting a Pet Cat

Buying a kitten can be an exciting time as you welcome the new addition to your family. Yet in the US, according to the ASPCA, there are currently around 3.4 million cats entering animal shelters each year.  Sadly, around 41% (approximately 1.4 million) end up being euthanized. Part of the problem is quite simply overpopulation  -there are too many cats and not enough homes.

Adopting a pet cat can, therefore, be a rewarding experience and if you haven’t got your heart set on a kitten (although these sometimes become available too), it is another option to consider.

Choosing a rescue cat

When going to a rescue center, the sheer number of cats looking for homes can be overwhelming. Think about what you are looking for in your new addition, and whether or not you can be flexible in your requirements. If you need a cat that can live with children or other pets, mention this to the rescue before setting you heart on a cat that may be unsuitable.

Although many people prefer the cats that are pretty colors, try not to write off the plain black or black and white cats that are looking for homes. These cats are often overlooked despite being able to make fantastic pets.

Bringing your rescue cat home

Bringing any new cat home can be a stressful experience for them, yet there are a few things you can do to minimize this as much as possible. To start with, keep your cat in a limited number of rooms so that they are not overwhelmed by the amount of new space. This will also help them become accustomed to where the litter box is, where they are fed and where their water bowl is. This is particularly the case if they are kittens, as they will have little control of their bowels at such a young age and they will find it easier to use a litter tray if they do not have to go far to get to it.

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It is a matter of personal choice as to whether you keep your cat as a house cat only, or you let them spend part of the day outside too. Check with the rescue to make sure there are no conditions to keeping your new pet inside before you take them home if you would rather they do go outside. Nowadays many people prefer to keep their cats inside due to the hazardous nature of the outside world, such as increasing urbanization/increased traffic levels. If you live in an apartment, you may have no choice but to keep your pet inside.

If you are looking to let your cat out, a kitten will need to have all the required vaccinations first. An older cat should have been  vaccinated at the rescue, but again check first. When you bring an older cat home, they will be disorientated at first. Keep them indoors for a minimum of one month before letting them venture outside to stop them from wondering too far away; the homing instincts of cats should not be underestimated! When you let them out for the first time, do it just before feeding time. Train them before this to come when called for their dinner so that they know when they are about to be fed. It will help encourage them to come home.

If your cat appears very stressed, you can try using a product called Feliway. This is a diffuser that plugs into a normal electrical socket which releases odorless pheromones that keep your cat calmer. Additionally, use treats to help gain your cat’s trust;  a tidbit now and then can really help build a bond with your new pet.

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Not all rescues are problem pets

Before writing off the fact that all rescues must be delinquents to have been abandoned, remember that for many cats it is simply a matter of circumstance. A relationship breakdown, a landlord refusing to let them stay or a child developing an allergy are all reasons that animals get handed in.

They will have been given a clean bill of health

While some cats in rescues may have medical conditions, but most of the time, adopting a pet cat means the one you’re going to choose has been checked over by a veterinarian and been given a clean bill of health. Your cat will have also received all the vaccinations that are appropriate at that age, and if they are old enough, they will have also been neutered. If for any reason you are adopting a kitten, then a condition of taking them is that you have them neutered as soon as they mature.

Generally, when adopting a cat, you will be required to pay a fee to contribute towards the care that your cat has received. While this may be higher than getting a kitten for free, do remember that is going towards the veterinary care they have received in addition to helping to keep the charity going and this will enable them to rescue even more cats.


Adopting a pet cat can be a rewarding experience, yet it may be a little more challenging than taking home a kitten.

Bear in mind however that you are giving an unwanted animal a loving home and this should not be underestimated. Your rescued cat will be a very lucky cat indeed!

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Additional Cat Adopting Resources:

  1. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/sources-for-adopting-pets
  2. https://www.freeportvet.com/services/cats-dogs/blog/after-adoption-why-your-shelter-pet-still-needs-see-veterinarian
  3. https://www.greatplainsspca.org/
  4. https://www.thedrakecenter.com/services/pets/blog/after-adoption-why-your-shelter-pet-still-needs-see-veterinarian

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