There are few things in life as rewarding as cat adoption, but it’s a commitment of 10 to 15 years, and many factors come into play. Scores of cats end up in shelters every year because pet parents failed to consider issues such as money, moving and other family members. We’ve asked some experts to help devise a cat adoption checklist to find out — are you really ready to adopt a cat?
1. Do you know what cat adoption costs?
Beyond the adoption fee, there will be regular vet visits, vaccinations, flea medications, kitty litter and food. Sharon Espinola, board member of Tampa Cat Crusaders, says, “Fiscal responsibility is a big issue. It is estimated that food alone can cost up to $200 per year.”
Gail Ventzke, executive director of Cats Cradle Shelter, echoes, “Are potential adopters willing to save money for medical emergencies? Do they realize they could be taking care of a cat for the next 20 years and all the expenses associated with that responsibility?” Having enough money to cover both the expected and unexpected costs is key to being ready to adopt a cat.
2. Are you ready to commit yourself to the cat for his entire life?
Richard Havens, director of Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare, says it’s imperative to be honest about why you want to adopt the cat. “Is it because your significant other wants a cat or because you are temporarily bored and figure a cat could be the answer?”
To help assuage impulse adoptions, Another Chance Cat Adoption has a 24-hour rule. Folks can meet their new cat but must wait until the next day to complete the adoption. This helps potential adopters to take a step back and rely less on emotions when adopting a cat.
3. Will you make the proper adjustments if a person or a pet in the home has an issue with your adopted cat?
Connie Welker, founder of ACCA, says the 24-hour rule helps with cat adoption returns because it gives adopters the opportunity to assess their entire situation. “We’ve gotten feedback indicating that it was a very good rule, with folks saying, ‘The cat we wanted would not have been welcomed by the cat we have.’”
The second most-cited reason cats are returned to the Amarillo Animal Shelter is because someone in the adopter’s household has spontaneously developed allergies to cats. You may be the person adopting the cat, but everyone who shares the space with your cat will be affected by his presence. If you’re willing to do what it takes to keep everyone involved healthy and happy — including your cat — then you’re ready to adopt.
4. Are you ready to take your cat with you if you move?
Karen Little of Alley Cat Advocates asks that potential adopters seriously reflect on what cat adoption means: “Consider the next 15 to 18 years of your life. Are you OK with adding a family member that will live with you through all those years, moves, changes and life experiences? Your new cat is not a sofa that can be returned and replaced.”
Potential cat guardians will have to take their new furkid into consideration with every life-changing challenge. Gail of Cats Cradle Shelter says, “I think the most common reason people return pets is because they find themselves moving and for some reason won’t take the cat with them.”
5. Can you provide a safe environment for your adopted cat?
Sharon of Tampa Cat Crusaders says, “Are there children under 2 years old? It’s probably better to wait until a toddler knows how to handle a cat gently, for everyone’s safety.” She also indicates that people must remember that they’ll need a back-up caregiver and should ask themselves, “Who will take care of my cat when I’m away?”
Then there’s the hot-button issue around declawing. Sharon says that not only is declawing cruel and inhumane, it also leads to serious behavioral issues. So, can you live with a cat who has sharp nails that might scratch your furniture? There are plenty of scratching post options, ways to protect furniture and cat nail trimmers out there, but cat guardians must be willing to make the effort.
While every person and their situation is different, the one thing every cat guardian will have in common is the responsibility to their fuzzy family member. If you’ve answered “yes” to the above cat adoption checklist questions, then yes, you really are ready for cat adoption.
Thumbnail: Photography by hamacle/Thinkstock.
This piece was originally published in 2017.