For first-time cat guardians and for those with years of experience, it’s a major life event to take home a newly adopted cat or two! Will your cat be happy in your home? Will you become besties and bond with each other as you hope? And, what essential items will you need to care for them? If you bring home a kitten, you can expect to care for them for 12 to 17 years or more!
There’s so much to consider for any newly adopted cat, so here is a brief guide to help get you started.
At Cole and Marmalade, we always suggest adopting and never going to a breeder. Millions of gorgeous homeless cats need homes at all times and desperately need a chance for a happy life. You’re giving them that chance!
Once you decide to adopt a cat, it’s important to consider whether you want to adopt an energetic kitten or an older cat. We love seeing people find a higher sense of purpose by adopting a senior cat to give them their best Golden Years. Adult cats usually have much longer waits in rescues and shelters, and we strongly encourage such adoptions. Likewise, we strongly encourage adopting FIV+ cats like Marmalade, and black cats like Cole and Mazikeen (Maz).
Do You Prefer Quiet or High Energy?
Adult cats can make purrfect companions for quieter homes. They probably won’t be bouncing off the walls as much as kittens. However, their healthcare costs may be higher if they have ongoing medical needs. Can you afford their ongoing care? Unfortunately, we all have to consider a budget and how much time we have to care for our pets.
Maybe you are drawn more to wild kitten antics? If so, extra work is involved in supervising and creating a safe play area. Kittens are experts at getting into trouble, so kitten-proofing the home is essential. For example, lock away medications and cleaning supplies, tidy up dangerous electrical cords, and remove any houseplants that could easily be toxic to cats.
Please see more on household hazards for cats here.
Here’s a helpful video from Cole and Marmalade about Household Hazards for Cats:
Where to Find an Adoptable Cat?
The best place to adopt? If a cat adopts you first, it might be right on your front porch. But for most people, you’ll need to contact a local rescuer or shelter. An easy way to find them is to go on PetFinder and search your locality. Many rescue groups post adoptable kitties on the website.
Aside from talking to area shelters and vets, an easy way to locate adoptable cats is through social media networking, such as Nextdoor. Neighbors are often posting about pets that need homes. And here’s a national database from the ASPCA to help you locate adoptable pets or pets to provide a foster home.
Here’s how Jess and Cat Man Chris rescued and adopted Mazikeen and Calypso:
Adopting in Duos
Although you might not think so, adopting a bonded duo or trio of kittens is usually the best option. Why? They play with one another endlessly and teach each other about boundaries and how to cat. Plus, you can watch the hilarious antics and not be overwhelmed.
Newly Adopted Cats Need Time to Adjust
We love seeing stories of purrfectly smooth adoptions where everything just falls into place as if it was all meant to be from the start. But those stories are almost like fairytales and relatively rare. No matter your experience with cats, you can expect an adjustment period as they learn to trust you and a bond begins.
An easy way to think about this adjustment period is the 3/3/3 Adjustment Period Rule by feline training and behavioral specialist Molly Devoss.
Here’s the short version of what the 3/3/3 rule means, and you can see more in our previous article:
3 days for a cat to decompress and hide out.
3 weeks for a cat to study you and figure out the routine.
3 months until a cat feels at home and bonded with you.
Having realistic expectations about the adjustment period is critical. Please don’t give up; cats are complex and need patience as they learn to trust and open up to people.
What Will You Need for Your Kitties?
Before you bring home a cat, you’ll need a few essential items. You will often learn what your cat needs through the adoption process, such as through interviews. Foster parents and rescuers are usually all too happy to give you the details about what a furbaby enjoys, such as their favorite food, treat, or toy. They may even send the pet with their favorite items, which is ideal.
One of the most important things to discover is what kind of cat food they have enjoyed. Any abrupt changes in diet could cause serious tummy troubles.
But some items you can expect will be required from the start. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive; you can always upgrade them as you get to know your cat. As you can see below, cat food is included in the list, but it’s best to feed them the specific kind they’re used to. A veterinarian can tell you if their diet needs to change and how to gradually adjust it safely.
Essential items to have on hand for newly adopted cats:
Sturdy cat carrier with soft towel inside
A large water bowl or fountain and food bowls
Litter box, plastic liners, and scoop
Basic cat grooming items (nail clippers, brush, or gloves)
Another item that may help cats adjust: a vet-recommended calming spray made specifically for cats – and catnip toys! Some swear by Purr Pads for cats that keep them cozy and warm. And we would be remiss not to mention having a cardboard box or two for your cat’s highly-affordable amewsment.
At Cole and Marmalade, we’re always introducing new toys to keep it interesting! For example, here are Calypso and Mazikeen enjoying a multi-colored ping pong ball party!
Newly Adopted Cat’s First Vet Checkup
It’s another big milestone when you take your newly adopted cat to their first veterinary appointment. Usually, you’ll want to bring your kitty to the vet within their first week home or sooner if you notice anything of concern.
At that time, you can ensure your cat is microchipped and then register and update the company with your correct contact information if you move. Microchip reunions can happen after a decade or more from all over the globe, so it really works and couldn’t be easier.
If you already have pets, introducing them slowly is a whole other topic, which you can see here.
You can see Marmalade’s first vet visit below from Cole and Marmalade: