Questions, Supplies, Vet Care: A Cat Adoption Checklist

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Any time is a good time to bring home a new feline friend, but National Adopt a Cat Month is held every year in June. If you’re thinking about observing the occasion in June, or adopting a cat any other time of the year, here’s a basic cat adoption checklist.

Questions to Ask Before Adopting

Before you make the decision to bring home a new cat or kitten, you need to consider a few questions. One of the biggest is, “Is this something I can afford?” There are basic month-to-month expenses to keep in mind, like food, water, litter, flea and tick treatment, and treats. You may have that covered, but what about annual vet visits or surprise medical bills? You’ll need to have the financial flexibility for any vet care that could arise.

Kitten at vet visit
PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK / 135PIXELS

If you know you can handle the costs associated with a cat, the next step is to think about how a cat would fit into your lifestyle. Are you home enough to handle the somewhat high maintenance care of a kitten? They need to burn off lots of steam and may require some training. Are you home enough to ensure your cat gets enough one-on-one time with you, regardless of their age? Though cats are considered fairly independent, they do need plenty of interaction with their human. If you travel much, do you have someone reliable to cat sit when you’re out of town? Finally, if you rent, does your apartment complex or landlord allow pets, and have you already met the quota for allowable animals?

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Another important question to ask is, “How would a cat fit in with other members of the household?” Do you have children who would do well with cats? Do you have other pets that may or may not appreciate an interloper?

If you’ve tackled these important considerations and are sure you’ve got all your bases covered, it’s time to start gathering what you need for your chosen feline friend.

Things to Gather Before Adopting

So you’re taking the new cat plunge! Congratulations to you and farewell to sleeping in. (if your kids weren’t already waking you up early for breakfast, that is) What are you going to need to put together before bringing your new pet home?

Food, water, and litter box necessities are obviously at the top of the list. When it comes to food and litter, it’s important to ask the rescue or shelter from whom you’re adopting what brands they were using. You can slowly transition your new cat to the brands you prefer in the first few weeks after bringing them home, but you need to provide what they’re used to at first. If you’re switching to a different type of food, ensure it has all the nutrients your cat needs. A different formula is required for kittens and any cats on a prescription diet.

Cat eating out of food bowl
PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK / AFRICA STUDIO

Be sure you follow the general guideline for litter boxes: one for each cat in your home plus one extra, so they have options and enough space. Cats also need a few water bowls around the house, and since they like it fresh, they will need to be refilled daily. Alternately, you can get them a water fountain, which continuously circulates water for our more finicky furry friends.

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Health necessities, meanwhile, include grooming supplies, scratching posts for their nail health, and a collar with their name on it, for safety purposes. You’ll also need a veterinarian. You should schedule an appointment immediately, to make sure your new cat is up to date on care, spayed or neutered if old enough, and free from any feline communicable diseases. You’ll also want to use this opportunity to get them a microchip, which can be essential to a reunion if they make a run for it or get lost.

With the more serious matters out of the way, time for the fun and cozy! Toys, from interactive wands that you can use with them to catnip-infused mice to balls they can chase to paper bags they can hide in, are essential. You can never have enough of them! Cats might not always appreciate your efforts, but you can always toss out some empty toilet paper rolls or balled up paper if they shun your toy purchases.

Cat playing with toy
PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK / AFRICA STUDIO

Cats do appreciate having vertical space and spots to hide, so you may want to procure a cat tree or two, possibly one with a cubby, and some cardboard boxes to pop into. Boxes are sure to entice even the most unimpressed feline. Finally, a cozy bed all their own, which may also consist of a box with some blankets, is an essential purchase.

As a last point, get a secure pet carrier before letting your new cat hitch a ride to their forever home.

Keeping Your New Cat Safe and Comfortable

You’ve got the supplies. Now you need to set up your home to ensure safety and comfort as your cat gets used to a new environment. You’ll want to do some “baby proofing”, as cats can be just as mischievous as the toddlers the term is used for. Make sure your cat won’t have any access to toxic plants, toxic cleaners, or anything in your human medicine cabinet. Secure any cords or wires, including curtain and blind cords, and make a sweep for anything on the floor the cat might think looks like a good thing to chew on.

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The first few days, and maybe even weeks, in your home may be overwhelming for a new cat, so it’s best to set up a room for them to get used to the place. It should include the opened cat carrier, a bed, food, water, litter, and some toys. If they’re a bit scared to come out, don’t rush them. Some will also need more time than others. Visit your cat one-on-one throughout the day, without pushing to pet them if they’re not quite there yet.

Cat hiding under blanket
PHOTO: PIXABAY / CAT823

Once they’re ready to mingle, keep in mind best practices for introducing them slowly to dogs or other cats. That may require a few weeks of separation and lots of supervision before all the pets are settled.

Once everyone feels at home and satisfied with the new arrangement, congratulations on your new furry family member!

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