The Ultimate Guide To Adopting A Cat

cat adoption

The Ultimate Guide To Adopting A Cat


This post was updated in March, 2023

You have made a choice and decided that adopting a cat is not only good for you but your family as well. Nothing is more exciting than bringing your new feline companion home. Your cat will be, after all, a long-lasting addition to your home for many years. This is your guide to adopting a cat.

I really like this video that Jackson Galaxy did as it covers everything from costs, to integrating a new cat with one who already lives in your home. Watching this video will probably take away your anxiety. I think it will also give you great pointers, and some space to really think your options through.

cat adoption

Now that you made the life-changing decision to make your life better with cat adoption, there’s a lot to take into consideration before heading out the door. You want to make sure your home and other household members are ready for the change. A cat will bring you and your family a lot of rewards and also a few challenges. It’s also crucial to where to adopt a cat or kitten.

For more information about adopting a kitten, check out our article 10 Kitten Adoption Essentials. Although it is tempting to go right to the baby kitten notion, there is a lot to be said for adopting an older cat!

To see if your next furry companion could be better suited to be a senior cat, check out our blog post: The Ultimate Guide to Adopting a Senior Cat. It breaks down the pros and cons of adopting a kitty that is not a kitten.

Adopting a cat, should I adopt a kitten or an older cat?

Whether a cat or kitten, both will bring joy into your life and some frustration if you aren’t ready. A kitten ensures a lot of energy, watching it grow, and some extra training. An adult cat may still have some energy, but they’ll be a bit more laid back then a new kitten. Either way, adopting or even rescuing a cat will have you saving the feline’s life, and you’ll get a new best friend in the process.

An adult cat comes with little guesswork. They may already be litter-box trained and probably won’t chew or scratch on everything. Plus, he won’t be running at maximum speed all the time. A kitten will be a lot more work in training and may take some extra trips to the vet for additional care.

A kitten may test you and your other pet’s boundaries to see who is really in charge of the household. (Come to think of it, mine still does!)

Kittens are also a clean slate, which can mean a stronger bond being built and watching him grow. Although a senior kitty cat will be incredibly grateful to his new forever home. Especially if the older cat was in a rescue or on the streets.

You may ask yourself a few questions when considering adoption.

Considerations when adopting a feline

What is my age and living situation?

Adopting a cat or kitten requires a significant amount of time and energy, so it is important to consider your age and living situation before making a commitment. If you are young and live in a busy or chaotic home, you may be better off waiting until you can provide the necessary time and attention for a pet. 

Do I have enough space for a cat or kitten?

Cats need a certain amount of space to feel comfortable and secure. Consider the size of your home and the number of other animals/people living there before deciding if you can provide your pet with the appropriate space. 

Am I prepared to commit to the long-term care of a cat or kitten?

Cats can live up to 20 years, so you need to be prepared for a long-term commitment when it comes to caring for your pet.

What is my budget for pet care?

Adopting a cat or kitten is a big financial commitment. You need to consider the costs of pet food, litter, vet visits, and other necessary supplies. 

Do I have the time to provide adequate care and attention?

Cats need a lot of love and attention. Be honest with yourself about how much time you can devote to your cat or kitten each day. 

How much daily activity is ideal for me and my cat?

Different cats require different levels of activity. Consider your own activity level and the activity level that you hope to provide your pet with. 

What type of cat would fit best with my lifestyle?

Consider the personalities of different breeds and types of cats and decide which one would be the best fit for you and your lifestyle.

What type of personality do I prefer?

Some cats are more social and outgoing, while some are more shy and reclusive. Think about which type of personality you prefer and look for a cat that matches it. 

RELEVANT: The Charming Personality Of The Maine Coon Cat

What kind of cat can I manage?

Different cats require different levels of grooming, exercise, and playtime. Consider your own skills and abilities when it comes to managing your pet. 

Are there any other members of my family who will be interacting with the cat?

If there are other people living in your home, it is important to make sure they are comfortable with the idea of a cat or kitten before making a decision.

Is anyone in my home allergic?

This is a big one. Be sure you don’t get your cat home just to find out your son or daughter is allergic. Let everyone visit with the cat ahead of time and see if anyone has break-outs or asthma triggers due to the cat’s dander.

RELEVANT: Cat Allergies: Can You Live With Cats If You Are Allergic?

Where can I adopt a cat or kitten?

If you’re new to cat adoption, there are numerous places you can go to find your new feline friend. Rescue groups, shelters, breeders, classifieds, and other resources will help you.

Even a simple search online will offer many places of opportunity for adopting a cat. Each outlet has its red flags, but many offer more benefits than anything.

cat adoption
  • Breeders: If you want a cat that is purebred and comes with papers and long and potentially exhaustive bloodline, then a breeder is a fantastic choice to get your cat. A good breeder will interview you to make sure the cat is going to a right home, and you may have to sign a contract.

  • Shelters: From adult cats to even a new kitten, shelters are a great place to rescue your pet. Plus, many volunteers can also give you insight into any personality quirks. Many shelters are kill shelters meaning if an animal isn’t rescued within a specific time, it may be put down. That’s why rescuing an animal from a shelter is so important. You’re saving a life on top of getting a new pet.

  • Rescue Groups: These groups fall into organizations that don’t have a building but work by placing animals in foster care until a permanent home is found.

  • Internet: Many shelters and breeders have websites that are only a click away. Many organizations can help you find the right cat in your area or within a reasonable driving distance that may be a state away.

  • Newspapers or Classifieds: While this may sound relatively archaic in today’s digital world, the classified section is still perfect for finding a new job, car, and even a new pet! If you do go this route, be careful of scams and ask the owner for any vet records and vaccinations.

  • Pet Stores: Known more for puppy mills, pet stores are more concerned about money over the health and well-being of the animals they sell. Kitten mills are a real thing, and many pet stores have moved away from this practice and become off-site adoption agencies for shelters and other animal organizations. If a shelter makes you hesitate, then a pet store that offers shelter animals may be a viable alternative.

  • Strays: Unfortunately, there is no shortage of animals being left on the side of the road, our dumped in rural areas. Cats are abundant and can suffer from horrible owners. While you’re searching for that perfect cat, you may find that one has already chosen you as its new human. These cats are more than grateful to have shelter, and regular meals plus saving an animal from the street brings a host of rewards of its own.

As you adopt a cat or rescue it from his less than stellar surroundings, keep your eye out for kitten mills and potential online scams.

Also, rescuing a cat from a shelter is a fulfilling and heart-warming experience. It’ll become one of those moments that stand in your memory forever as you’ve saved a life.

Cat adoption, who saved who?

You may come to realize that the cat has saved your life as well. Many new cat owners report of being rescued emotionally from trauma, loss of a loved one or just loneliness. There is even evidence to report cat owners dealing with Covid-19 much better due to having a cat companion. Pet adoption is definitely a two-way street.

Adopting a cat from a shelter can have it’s challenges, many animals wind up at the SPCA or rescues due to unfortunate circumstances. Re-homing your new pet will take time and patience so preparing mentally to be patient and thoughtful is important.

There is also the genetic legacy of the cat to consider, as you won’t know what can or could happen in the future.

While legitimate breeders may cost more, you’ll have a thorough history to rely on, which will help you make the right decision in any vet care. That being said, many cat breeds have physical ailments due to over-breeding.

Should my cat be indoor or outdoor?

An indoor cat can live an average of 12-18 years, sometimes more. An outdoor cat has a shorter life expectancy of 4-5 years. This is usually due to being hit by a car, dog bites, and nature can be unforgiving. Indoor cats might have more behavioral issues you’ll have to deal with. This stems from boredom and lack of exercise so investing in cat products that encourage playtime is essential.

A cat wheel can be a great way to keep your kitty indoor and safe while giving her lots of exercise.

Either way, adopting a cat can be a rewarding experience and bring joy to your life. While no cat is going to be perfect, your new feline companion will be perfect for you.

Now that you have chosen to adopt a cat, the hardest part is choosing his name!

Lisa Illman

Lisa Illman


Lisa is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity and the Inventor of the Kritter Kondo, an outdoor portable catio. She also designed the Pet Lodge, an outdoor pet pen for traveling cats and dogs. Lisa writes for Kritter Kommunity frequently and is also a regular contributor at Catington Post. Lisa is owned by her Tuxedo male cat Finnegan who also has his own Facebook page.