Adoption - The Essential Guide! - Part One: Should I?
If you're reading this, it means you are seriously considering adding a feline friend to your family!
The act of adopting an animal is one that takes a lot of thought and the fact that you've taken the time to do some reading and research means you're well on your way to making an educated decision about the future of your household dynamic!
This guide is here to help you learn the ins and outs of adoption and give you all the tools you need to decide if adopting a cat is right for you. Everything from what you should expect in the first few weeks, to what you should consider when picking your new furry friend - we'll cover all of that and more!
So, keep reading and let us guide you on the path to finding your new forever friend!
Step One: Asking Financial Questions
The act of adopting an animal can be one of the most rewarding feelings someone can hope to have! Just thinking about giving a home to an animal who might otherwise live their life in a cage and knowing you potentially saved their lives overall has the ability to make everyone want to get out there and adopt, adopt, adopt!
But beyond the sparkle and shimmer of being able to say you adopted, there are a lot of things that you should ask yourself before jumping headfirst into the world of animal adoption.
The first thing to ask is whether or not you are financially stable enough to support an animal for the rest of its life. While you will be providing them shelter in your home, you will also need to provide them with food and medical care - cats in particular will need cat litter, boxes, and toys to keep them occupied.
The average cost of owning a cat per month is generally about $250; meaning that you should expect to spend at least $2,000 dollars per year (not counting anything unexpected that may arise!)
Often times, we will hear potential adopters mention how they can't afford the adoption fee for an animal which always brings up the questions of how they plan to afford everything else. We always encourage adopters to think about the long term before they put themselves in a situation they simply can't run away from and put themselves into debt trying to do too much on a limited budget. This is never to say that these people wouldn't make excellent pet parents, but sometimes we need a lot more than a big heart and good intentions.
Annual Vet care includes things like rabies and vaccines, general well visits, and the potential for dental or nail treatments should you choose not to do them in-house (keep in mind, younger kittens will need these more frequently so your vet can provide boosters and deworming!) You'll also want to factor in any adoption fees, spay or neutering, and possible extra costs to landlords who may charge a fee for pets. Which brings us to Step Two...
Step Two: Preparing your Abode
Once you welcome an animal into your life, your home will become their home!
Sometimes, it really pays to take a step back and evaluate your home life before adding another player to the stage. Take into account your family members or roommates - is anyone allergic? Is every onboard with the idea of adopting a new pet? Will bringing this new animal in cause any friction?
If you have younger children, you will need to teach them how to properly play and care for their kitty companion. Show them how to be gentle and calm as fast movements can cause stress and may even cause your new cat to lash out. Remind them that their new friend is an animal, not a toy, and needs to be treated with respect. You will also benefit from educating your children on the signs and body language that cats display when anxious or upset as this can help prevent them from getting scratched or bitten. Remember, knowledge is power and teaching kids young will help them grow up to be better pet parents in the future!
Beyond your immediate family, you will also want to call your landlord before you make any steps toward adoption (if you're renting or leasing!) You wouldn't believe how many landlords deny people having pets on their property because they didn't bother to ask before trying to bring one in and you will only be causing yourself more problems down the line if you attempt to bring in a cat that is strictly not allowed via your lease or renters agreement. Some landlords may require a pet deposit fee, others may have stipulations on what pets are allowed. In the long run, asking you landlord is the quickest and smartest way to see about bringing a pet into your space.
Have other pets already? Really take the time to think about how adding to the brood might affect them. Just because your Golden Retriever is fine with cats they meet in passing, doesn't mean they will feel the same when that cat is living under the same roof with them for the foreseeable future. And while you might think your current cat is lonely and bored, the truth might be that bringing in another cat will cause them to become stressed or sick.
Cats can be very picky when it comes to who they make friends with so knowing the ins and outs of other pets and family members can save you the heartbreak of finding out your new friend doesn't fit into the bigger picture that is your home.
Speaking of home, you should definitely make sure your home as a whole can handle a feline in its life! Cats are creatures that aren't easily controlled when they enter a new home. They will run, climb, jump, and scratch to their heart's content and all of this comes as part of their basic instinct. While we may try to stop them with discipline, you need to always be aware that you are inviting a tiny predator into your home when you take in a cat!
Make sure they have ample places to explore, windows to gaze out of, and spots that they are allowed to commandeer for sleeping. Keep in mind that things like doorframes and furniture will look like beautiful scratching posts if you don't get them something to rip up instead and that not tending to a litter box can cause cats to do their business in places you'd rather they not.
What about outside? If your cat got out, what risks might they face? Main roads, wildlife, frigid temperatures - all of these can be death sentences for indoor cats who sneak outside so be sure that your home is well equipped to keep them contained and not seeking adventure in the wide-open world. You might consider building a "catio" if you're the handy type! An enclosed porch allows your cats the benefits of fresh air and sunshine without the risk of them running off into the night and some cats can even be leash trained should you want to bring them on excursions! Just make sure you know the environment their up against should they make a grand escape.
Step Three: Have You Got the Time?
The benefit of cats is that they don't really need humans to be content in their surroundings. Cats as a species are pretty independent and will often seek affection on their own terms. But that doesn't mean that they don't get lonely.
One of the most common reasons that housecats are brought to shelters is because their human family finds they don't have enough time to give them the care and attention they deserve. Perhaps this is because of a new baby or a new and more demanding work schedule. While a cat is generally happy to lounge around the house all day without any interruptions from their human housemates, a lonely cat can often turn into an anxious cat.
Make sure that your schedule allows for you to properly interact with your kitty. Give them at least an hour of play (whether that be chasing a laser pointer or pouncing on a feather toy!) to prevent them from using their extra energy to cause chaos in your home. Try to get into a place that allows for a regular schedule for them when it comes to feeding and going to bed to prevent them from pestering you the rest of the day for more food in their bowl.
You'll also want to make sure your schedule can accommodate vet visits (both planned and unplanned) and that you don't find yourself leaving town for extended periods of time on a regular basis. Boarding for cats is often very expensive and hard to find so unless you have a very good friend who enjoys pet sitting on the regular, you'll be looking at one grouchy kitty whenever you go jet-setting!
Just like people, cats live happier lives when in a stable environment so making sure that your hectic schedule still allows them some structure in their day to day is key to keeping them happy and healthy. You are as much their companion as they are yours and you should make sure you have the time to commit before choosing to bring a furry friend into your life!
Step Four: Am I a Cat Person?
And the last thing you'll want to think over is whether a cat is truly the proper pet for you!
Cats are amazing animals who come in so many shapes and sizes and with a wide range of personalities! No two are the same, but they definitely all come with a similar notion on how you are expected to behave around them. You'll often hear folks talk about how cats are aloof and unfriendly sharply contrasted by someone else saying they are cuddly and affectionate!
Committing to a cat means committing to an animal who can change like the weather and who is unlikely to bend to your will.
Where dogs are loyal and capable of change, cats are usually the exact opposite and owning one is sure to throw you for a loop every now and then.
All animals have their quirks and downfalls, but you should be ready to expect the unexpected when you find yourself bunking with a feline!
Take some time to brush up on cat psychology. Look into other pets and their care and behaviors to see if they would make a better fit. Visit a friend who has a cat and just exist with it for a short while to see how it makes you feel. Don't let the glamor of Instagram kitties lure you into a lifelong commitment with an animal you may never be able to relate to.
This last step might seem like a no-brainer, but there's a fair number of folks who discover their dislike of cats shortly after bringing one into their lives. Save a step, make sure you love them before you live with them!
To Adopt or Not to Adopt...
In summary, you should never jump into the adoption process without first taking a good long look at your life at present. Think about your future plans and how that may change the environment around you. Think about your finances and what taking on the extra weight of supporting an animal may do to you budget and bank account. Make sure you are certain about all the details so that you don't end up kicking yourself later when you find something you overlooked.
Adopting an animal is the best feeling in the world and can earn you a friend that you wouldn't lose for the world, but knowing that you are 100% ready for the work and commitment will make your time with them all the sweeter ~
We hope this first part in out Adoption - An Essential Guide series has been helpful on your adoption journey!
Stay tuned for Part Two where we'll get you started on the adoption process and what to expect!