Considerations Before You Adopt a Cat

You no doubt have dozens of questions if you're thinking about committing to a cat: "Should I get a male cat or a female, a kitten or an older cat?" "I'd really like a purebred, but maybe I should adopt a mixed breed instead." This tutorial helps answer these questions, as well as a few you might not have thought of.

Adopting a cat for the first time should be a lifetime commitment, so it is important to do your homework first.

  • 01 of 04


    Close-Up Of Cat For Sale In Shelter
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    Think seriously about this important step, which is much like entering into a marriage. Bringing a cat into your family should be a lifelong commitment, so give it serious thought. A good place to start is by understanding that no one truly owns a cat. Cats are sentient beings, and your cat (should you decide to welcome one into your home) deserves to be a family member rather than a "collectible." If you are looking for a cat as an adornment to your home, you definitely should reconsider.

    However, if you've wanted a cat for some time, and think the time is right, read on. Here are some questions to ask yourself and other family members; you all need to share the commitment to make it work since the cat will be part of your family.

  • 02 of 04


    Cat sitting in open cage in animal shelter
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    You may have some preconceived notions that you want a particular breed of cat, or that you want a kitten instead of an adult kitty. But before that important decision, do some homework. Like life itself, there are many factors involved in choosing a cat, some of which you may never have considered. For example, if there are very young children in your family, a very young kitten would be a poor choice.

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    Where to Go

    Two cats in cages
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    Try humane shelters and cat rescue organizations. These groups are packed full of beautiful, adoptable cats and kittens. If you are dead set on a cat of a specific breed, there are also breed rescue organizations to explore.

  • 04 of 04

    Second Cats

    Two cats sitting on cat tree looking out window
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    We are social animals, so it seems natural to us that our cats would enjoy socialization, too. With few exceptions, though, wild and domestic cats lead mostly solitary lives. They can get along in groups, but they don’t look for buddies. Before you decide to add a second cat to your family, ask yourself if your cat really needs a friend—and if you are prepared to meet the needs of a multi-cat household.

    There are two important things to consider before adopting a second cat: your current cat's age and his personality. An older cat’s worst nightmare, for example, is probably a younger wee ball of energy as a companion.

    A young or middle-aged cat may be more receptive to the presence of a kitten or even another adult cat—but it’s important to consider your original cat’s personality when choosing a new cat of any age. A shy cat could be overwhelmed by a bossy cat, while a bossy cat may be likely to bully a shy cat. 

    None of those facts mean you can’t ever have more than one cat. In fact, sometimes adding a cat to the family is inevitable. If you’re getting married, for example, and you and your spouse-to-be both have cats, a merger is a must. But if you’re adopting your first cat and you think you’d like a pair, the best thing to do is to adopt two kittens from the same litter or adopt an already bonded pair.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.