Deciding to adopt an adult cat from a shelter can prove a very rewarding experience if you know what to expect. Each cat has an individual personality and history that must be taken into consideration.
Adult cats are in shelters for a variety of reasons. Some outgrew their cuteness. A loving family due to sudden allergic reactions surrendered others. Some were found as feral strays and caught by animal control. Others simply opted to leave homes and become strays.
Several visits to your local shelter may be required before the best match for your family is found. Getting to know the animals there by observing them and asking questions is crucial. Cats who run away and hide when you enter the room
- Were never handled by humans as kittens
- Have experienced neglect or abused
- Are naturally shy around people
- Were previously adopted with poor results, or
- Any combination of the above
The cat you choose should also choose you, if possible. If there is a chair in the room, take note of which cats approach when you sit down. Talk to them to get them used to the sound of your voice. Allow them to smell you before you attempt to touch them. If they push the top of their head against your hand, you have permission to pet them. If they walk away, continue to talk but do not move. A feline may interpret sudden movement on your part as aggression and they may try to attack. If they return to you on their own accord with their tail up, they are amicable to your friendship on their terms.
Shy and previously neglected and abused cats need a quiet, patient home. Friendly and outgoing felines generally do well with a larger family or noisier environment. By spending time in the shelter observing the cats there, you will get a better feel for their personality and if it will fit with the current residents of your home. Ask the volunteers who spend the most amount of time with the cats at the shelter what they can tell you about them. They may offer you important information, such as whether or not a particular cat gets along well with other animals or small children.
Ask the shelter employees about the health record. Felines have various afflictions and disease just as people do, and you must be aware of such things before adopting. Previous injuries and skin conditions could require future veterinary visits which you need to be able to afford.
The more you know about the cat before you bring it home, the better prepared you will be. Love, kindness, and compassion need to be tempered with a genuine understanding of your new feline friend.