Clever, cheeky, subtle or shy, cats are no doubt a popular pet in New Zealand. In fact, our latest pet parents survey shows they’re the most popular – with 69% of all Kiwis having a feline family member. Want to join the crew? If you’ll potentially adopt a cat soon then make sure you read this first.
It’s hard to resist those cute little whiskers, nuzzling noses, and contented purrs. But there’s so much more to being the parent of a cat than uploading their antics to YouTube.
Let’s have a look at what to look for when you adopt a cat and how to be part of the successful adoption of a new feline family member.
Tips for when you adopt a cat (kitten or not)
Over 27,000 cats and kittens are taken to the SPCA each year. HUHA sees hundreds a year that need fostering and adoption, as do many other shelters and rescue centres. That’s a lot of unwanted kitties and many different cat breeds looking for love, to say the least.
Did you know kittens make up approximately 75% of all animals brought in to the SPCA? A dreadful situation.
Adopting a new cat or kitten is an exciting time, but how will you know which is the right cat for you? You’re obviously an animal lover, so that’s a big tick. But what else should you consider before adopting a new cat? To make sure yours isn’t one that ends up without a home.
- Are you single, a couple, a family? If you are a family, how old are your children? What are their temperaments and their ability to take ‘no’ as an answer?
- Are you home a lot, or often away for work? Who will care for your cat while you’re gone?
- Do you often have friends or family over? Are they calm or kinda crazy?
- Are you looking for a kitten or considering a senior cat? Keep in mind that kittens will respond much better to a little training while senior cats have set ways
- Do you have money set aside for cat-care?
- Have you any other pets, or plan on having other pets?
- Do you have allergies? For example, a Maine Coon is exotic and one of the popular purebred cats but will likely play havoc with your hay fever
- What are your thoughts on indoor cat vs outdoor cat?
- You may even want to consider if you plan on travelling with your cat!
Answering these questions will help guide you towards a cat with the attributes that suit your lifestyle.
At the shelter
When you decide you’re ready to start visiting shelters, be sure to have a particular personality in mind for your new cat. This will help you avoid that overwhelming urge to impulsively adopt the first cute kitten who squeaks a petite meow.
Shelters will know a lot about the cat, their quirks, their loves, and their personality, so be sure to ask lots of questions. Take your time. This is a life changing commitment for both you and your new feline friend.
Best to get it right the first time around.
New cat checklist
No matter if you’re adopting a senior cat, or a small kitten, there are some basic things your new feline family member will need. Many shelters will offer essential vet services prior to adoption. This will usually include initial vaccinations, microchipping, and desexing. Then, here are the cat health milestones you’ll need to ensure are covered in the first year.
It’s important to find out when the next vaccinations are due so you can follow up with your vet at the appropriate time. And remember that pet insurance providers such as PD Insurance have plan add-ons that cover treatments such as vaccinations (as well as chipping and spaying).
Usually you have time to prepare for your new arrival, so some prep now will enable you to spend quality time with your new fluffy friend when the big day arrives. There are four main things you need to consider:
Food to keep it healthy
Talk with the adoption centre about what food your cat has been eating while in the shelter. Sudden changes to their diet might cause gastrointestinal upset. It’s also important to consider the age of your cat. A kitten has different nutritional needs to a senior cat.
If you do plan to change their diet, do it slowly, and only after your new cat has adjusted to your home. And be aware of foods that can be toxic to your furry friend.
Litter after you adopt a cat
A cat’s got to go when a cat’s got to go. And they like a little privacy (don’t we all?) 😉
Ideally, the litter box needs to be easily accessible and private – like a laundry or garage accessible from the house. Anywhere tucked in a corner, away from the spotlight, is best.
There are many types of litter, such as clay, paper, and crystals. Talk with the adoption centre about what litter they’ve been using. Each cat has its own preference, so it might be a case of trial and error. Don’t commit to a 20kg bag of litter, just in case your adopted cat dislikes it. Here’s more info about cat litter box training.
And remember – the smaller the grain of litter, the more likely it will end up being walked outside the litter box. #justsaying
Sleeping for your adopted cat
Where do you envisage your cat will sleep? Most cats will work out their preferred location within the house to snooze, but if you want to try and get your feline friend to commit to certain areas, you might need to consider special bedding. Cat beds and caves, cat trees, and blankets all make for comfy cat-naps.
If you have small children then it’s ideal to find somewhere the cat can reach but kids can’t. Again – alone time is needed! (Yep, we hear you, parents…)
Toys to keep it happy
Speaking of cat trees, depending on your cat’s personality you may want to consider toys. This will all depend on the personality of your cat, but many cats love a good scratching post.
If you have a cat who prefers to lay on your lap, then toys might not be important. However, if you have a cat who prefers to dash around the house, chasing imaginary mice, then a few interactive toys should help keep them happy and active.
And if the cat tree is higher than any kids, bonus.
Best environment for your adopted cat
Do you live on the 10th floor, with no grass time possible for puss? Will your cat have access to a balcony or be able to sit on a wide-enough windowsill to see outside? Are you living on a farm, or just in the suburbs? How safe are your boundaries? What’s the traffic like? The neighbours? Their pets?
Keeping your cat safe is about more than just vaccinations. And cat parents know it – when we asked 694 of them what non-health related hazards they feared for their cat, the top three answers were:
- Getting run over by a vehicle – 78%
- Fighting with another animal – 68%
- Getting out of the home/yard and getting hurt or lost – 46%
- Being taken by another human – 38%
- Emotional issues from me being at work/elsewhere – 21%
Cats can get injured from significant falls, wildlife, traffic and other beings. It’s important to protect against the financial stress of such situations, as well as the emotional ones. Answer – cat insurance.
And sometimes you need to protect others against them. Remember cats can impact local wildlife, as natural hunters. You should consider a cat enclosure if your cat will have outside access, so it doesn’t get a chance to be the predator.
How long does it take for an adopt-a-cat to adjust?
How long is a piece of string……? Adjustment will all depend on the cat, its backstory, and your home. A senior cat who has spent the last few years as a companion to an elderly couple will likely take longer to adjust if it’s new ‘furever’ home has a toddler and another cat to share its home with.
Take things slowly and follow your cat’s lead.
Once you adopt a cat and take it home, allow it to explore its new home without stressors. Things like loud and sudden noises or surprise ambushes from other pets.
Many experts recommend putting your new cat in a room so it doesn’t get stressed or overwhelmed in the first few days. This gives your adopted cat a chance to hide if they want, as well as providing isolation from other pets.
How to make your new cat comfortable
When you first bring your cat home, sit quietly on the floor and allow your new companion to explore and approach you when they’re feeling ready. Spend lots of time with it, talking with them so they learn your voice.
As your cat begins to feel safe, you can open the door to the room and sit outside, allowing them to exit when they feel ready. This may take a few days. Keeping your adopted cat in the room also allows any other pets to become accustomed to the new smell. Just as it gives your new cat some time to learn the smells of the other pets.
Bringing a new cat home to another cat
Cats greet each other by sniffing, so allowing them to smell each other is exactly what’s required. As long as there is no aggression, this should be allowed to occur. There may be setbacks, but this is normal with pets cohabitating. Gently separately them (if possible – if not, pop a blanket over one to take it away safely) and allow them to reintroduce again a little while later.
Need to know more? Here’s how to introduce your kitten and cat.
When you adopt a cat prepare for the unexpected
As curious creatures, cats can often find themselves in tricky situations. Whether they’ve found a way out of your house or yard, or run into trouble at home – it’s nice to know PD Insurance is there to safeguard the cost of their health. Our affordable cat insurance plans will give you what you need.
We have flexible policies with month-to-month payment options and no lock-in contracts.
Plus, at the time of writing, we’re offering 8 weeks of free kitten insurance for cats aged 6-30 weeks, with a $1,000 benefit limit and no excess payments. And for parents of older kitties, you’ll get one month of free if you buy a cat pawlicy online.
Now that’s worth adopting.