Updated January 3, 2021
When you are ready to add a feline member to your household, how do you choose the right one, or even the right place to get a cat?
These tips should help:
• Ask yourself how much time you realistically have to spend with your cat.
• Do you want a cat who is very affectionate and attention-seeking, or one that is more independent?
• Ask the breeder, foster home, shelter/rescue staff member about a cat's temperament before buying or adopting. Watch the cat for several minutes in its normal living environment. Does it interact with other animals, or stay off by her/himself? Is it hiding in the back of the cage? Or up in the front, reaching our swatting at everything that moves?
• Ask about the cat's history. Was it literally born in a barn, or feral? Was it raised in a household, with or without other pets?
• What types of things do you want to do with your cat? Tricks? Walk on a leash outside? Be a therapy cat? Just hang around the house? Or do you need a good "mouser" for your barn?
• Do you want an entirely indoor cat or one that goes outside? There are serious risks to allowing cats outside, even in an enclosed yard. Generally, we recommend that pet cats spend time outdoors in a fully enclosed and secure (including closed "ceiling") area. Even limited exposure to the outdoors can severely traumatize a cat who has spent its whole life inside.
• Do you have other cats or pets? Not all cats get along, even with work. Generally, try to get cats about the same age, similar breed, temperament, and background. The addition of another cat to an existing cat household is easier if both cats have been around other felines most of their lives. Dogs and other pets should be accustomed to having a cat or at least a small, rapidly moving animal in the house.
• Do you have the ability to separate the new cat from existing pets and introduce them gradually under controlled circumstances?
• Do you have kids? What ages? What experience do they have with pets? Children can be great with cats, if both know and respect appropriate boundaries.
• Where to get your cat? Shelters and rescue organizations can be great. Be cautious with no-kill shelters/rescues. Find out how long the cat has been there. Unfortunately, many no-kill shelters and rescues are dumping grounds for animals with serious behavior problems, those with little chance of being adopted from "kill" shelters. This doesn't mean that the animals are not adoptable; just know exactly what you are getting and be honest if you are prepared to handle and properly help the animal.
• Breeders are recommended only if you desire a specific breed of kitten for a specific purpose such as showing or breeding. American Cat Fanciers Association has a list of recognized breeders for each established cat breed.
• Is your home properly set up for your new cat? Basically, you should provide one more litter box, one more perch (the higher the better) and one more scratching post/board than you have cats. That way, no one can become too territorial and all always have a safe place to go. Provide spots to hide and a kennel for each cat. Although cats are generally not housed in kennels for any period of time, they should be used to (and enjoy) hanging out in a kennel or carrier. This ensures that getting the cat in a carrier won't become your worst nightmare.
Yes, Canine/Feline Behavior Counseling does offer pre-purchase/adoption consultations to help you find the right fit for your family. Call or email Marie for more information.