Blog Find the Best Cat to Adopt: Choosing the Cat for You

Man holding newly adopted cat
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Bringing a new cat into your home should not be as simple as picking the first adorable kitten you find. If you want to be a pet parent to one of the two million cats adopted from animal shelters each year, you should first think about whether you’re able to commit to the responsibility of caring for a cat, financially and emotionally. If you are, do your research to find the right cat for your family, home, and lifestyle. Read on to learn about what to consider when looking for the best adoptable cat for you.

What factors should I consider when choosing a cat?

Every cat is different, so it’s important to think about what you’re looking for in a cat before scouring online adoption listings. Below are just a few factors to consider.

  • Age: A playful kitten will require more supervision, while an adult shelter cat may work better for a busier lifestyle or a home with children.
  • Personality: If you want a cat with a certain temperament, you’re better off choosing an adult cat, as kittens’ personalities are hard to determine. Decide if you want a cuddly and quiet lap cat or an active feline who will keep you busy.
  • Activity level: A more energetic cat will need frequent playtime and exercise, but if you have a busy schedule, you may want to choose a calmer companion who doesn’t mind spending time alone.
  • Temperament: Homes with children should consider relaxed, easy-going cats. If you have a quieter home, a shyer feline may be a good fit.
  • Breed: Many cats in shelters are mixed breeds, but if their breed is known, that information may help give you some idea of their overall temperament.
  • Coat type: Long-haired cats are a little more high-maintenance, requiring frequent brushing to avoid matting. If you don’t want to constantly groom your cat, pick a short-haired feline.
  • Health: Most cats in a shelter will likely have a clean bill of health, but be sure to ask the staff any questions about a cat’s specific needs or health history.
  • What if I have other pets at home? If you have other cats or dogs at home, make sure to choose a cat who has interacted with these animals before. Be prepared to introduce your new cat to your current pets slowly and carefully.

How can I ensure the cat’s health and medical history are in good condition?

The animal shelter or rescue staff knows their pets well and can tell you all about a cat’s medical history and current health. When you adopt a cat, the shelter will provide you with their full medical records so you know which vaccinations your pet still needs and any prior health issues they may have. Make sure to schedule an appointment with your vet ASAP after taking your cat home to establish care and schedule their next vaccinations.

How can I determine a cat’s personality in a shelter or rescue setting?

Before you choose a cat, you should take time to get to know any cat you’re interested in. Fortunately, many shelters and rescues have rooms where you can spend time with cats to narrow down your choices from all those sweet faces. Follow these tips to learn more about picking the right cat for you, even in a shelter setting.

  • Spend time with the cats: Visit with all adoptable cats to see which ones capture your attention. Notice how each cat responds to you, and if there is a particular cat that steals your heart, see if the shelter has space for you to spend one-on-one time together. Make sure you know how to pick a cat up before attempting to do so.
  • Ask questions about the cats’ personalities and histories: Some cats get a little timid when new people come in, but the shelter staff can tell you how they act when they’re most comfortable and answer your questions about a cat’s background.
  • Follow your gut instinct: You may know which cat is right for you just by feeling a special connection. Pay attention to and trust your instincts.

What if the cat’s behavior presents challenges after adoption?

How a cat acts in a shelter interaction may be different from how they act when you finally bring them home. Remember that every adult cat in a rescue or shelter has a history and may take some time to feel comfortable. Use these tips to ensure that your cat has the best opportunity to become a happy, healthy, and loving pet:

  • Be patient: Know that it could take your cat weeks or even months to adapt to their new home and life.
  • Create a safe space for your cat: Set up a room in your home that is solely the cat’s space until both you and your cat are ready for them to explore the rest of the house.
  • Spend time with your cat: Your cat will tell you when they want to be petted with a gentle nudge of the head. Let them set the pace for your interactions and spend time with them while still respecting their space.
  • Consider professional help: If your cat’s behavior is too challenging to handle on your own, think about consulting a cat behavioral specialist. You can also reach out to the shelter to ask for guidance.

How can I ensure a successful long-term relationship with my new cat?

The best way to create a positive relationship with your new cat is to start off right. Let your cat lead the way when it comes to interactions like petting and snuggling. Pay attention to their body language and cues and make sure to meet all their needs, such as feeding your cat a high-quality and healthy diet, keeping their litter box clean, and providing plenty of toys and playtime for mental and physical stimulation.

Take time to think about what you want in a cat and how your pet will best fit into your home and family. Then, when you’re ready to adopt, you can keep an eye out for a cat that will feel comfortable in your household. And with patience, time, and, of course, love, you can help your new pet feel at home and enjoy the benefits of cats as pets for years to come.


Adopters and Pet Selection Preferences in Five Animal Shelters in the United States

Adopting a Shelter Cat: What You Need to Know

RSPCA: Adopting a Cat or Kitten

What to Look for When Adopting a Cat

Choosing the Right Cat Breed for Your Personality

Humane Society of Grand Bahama Choosing the Right Cat

Choosing and Caring for Your New Cat

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