Adopting the Right Cat for You

Cats make wonderful companions. Contrary to what some people might believe, they are not low maintenance, “independent” pets. They have specific needs and require regular veterinary care, and many cats thrive on human companionship.

How do you choose the right cat for you, your lifestyle and your family? Once you’ve decided what kind of cat is right, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for through and your local shelters or rescues, which are full of wonderful cats. Here are some things to consider when choosing a cat to adopt.

Do You Want a Kitten or Adult Cat?

Consider your lifestyle when deciding the age of the cat you adopt. Kittens are cute, but do you have the time and interest to train a young cat and to keep up with his energy levels? (For more information on raising kittens, visit our Kitten Guide.)  International Cat Care also points out that while kittens are cute, they will remain kittens for only about 6 months out of their 14 years or more lifespan. Adult cats, on the other hand, may have more established personalities than kittens and are more likely to be vaccinated and neutered or spayed already.

There are also plenty of senior cats available for adoption. But you must be prepared for the American Animal Hospital Association’s recommended twice-yearly vet visits and other possible health issues as well as a shorter time spent with you.

Are You Willing to Care For a Special Needs Kitty?

There are plenty of wonderful special needs kitties available for adoption. A “special need” may range from a food allergy to deafness to an illness that requires medication. They may require a little – or a lot – of extra work but “many people who have the necessary time, energy, and compassion get a great deal of satisfaction from taking on a cat that needs help,” says International Cat Care

Do You Prefer Long Haired or Short Haired Cats?

Cats with long coats are gorgeous, but they will need grooming every few days and/or frequent visits to the groomer to prevent matting, says International Cat Care.

Do You Want a Lap Cat or Energetic Cat?

Do you want a cat to be a couch potato with you or would you rather watch him zoom around your home, playing with anything and everything? A cat with an abundance of energy needs plenty of interactive toys and games to keep him entertained. The American Association for Feline Practitioners recommends cat owners provide each cat in their home with a secure environment, which may involve separate play or feeding areas for multiple cats.

Do You Want an Affectionate or Independent Cat?

Some cats want nothing more than to snuggle with you while others will keep their distance. What kind of attention can you give your cat? Are you home a lot or have a hectic work and/or travel schedule?  Don’t assume your cat won’t care if you’re gone all the time. Cats can get lonely, too.

Do You Prefer Purebred or Mixed Breed?

Shelters and rescues have every cat breed under the sun – and plenty of mixed breeds as well. If you’re looking for a certain breed you may find him in your local shelter or with a breed-specific rescue in your area. If you want a specific breed, however, do your research, recommends International Cat Care. Some breeds are predisposed to certain personalities, behaviors and even medical conditions.

What Are Your Family Dynamics?

An important consideration when deciding what kind of cat to adopt is your family. Do you have young kids? Other pets? The American Association of Feline Practitioners urges people to consider the other pets in the household before adopting a new cat. Some cats are good with kids, dogs or other cats while others are not. Many rescues or shelters can give you some insight into the temperaments of the cats in their care, particularly if the cat has been in a foster home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. These organizations are invested in making sure you and your cat make a forever match.

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