Adopt a cat tips can make life easier.

Ready to Adopt a Cat, You Think? Read This First


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Want to adopt or buy a cat to be your clever, cheeky, subtle or shy fur friend? Turns out you’re not the only one bringing a new cat home (you’re in good company). Whether you’re going the cat adoption route or buying from an ethical breeder, research shows these furry feline friends have already taken over more than 1.2 million households across the country.


If you’re planning on joining the crew this cat adoption blog is tail-ormade for you. 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…

an older adopted cat comes home to a new owner and chills in a basket for a few hours before sniffing the rest of the house

Tips for when you adopt a cat (kitten or not)

Tens of thousands of cats and kittens are taken to shelters in NZ each year. That’s a lot of unwanted kitties from many different cat breeds looking for love, to say the least.

Adopting a new cat or kitten is an exciting time – for you, the cat and the shelter! – 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.

Think twice to make sure

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 and snuggling together at bedtime.


  • 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 sense / take ‘no’ as an answer?
  • Are you home a lot, or often away for work? For how long? 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 (although if theirs and yours is a match made in heaven it’s a no-brainer!).
  • 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 cat is exotic and one of the popular purebred cats but will likely play havoc with your hay fever. Perhaps head for one of the hypoallergenic cat breeds instead?
  • 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, ready for cat adoption

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.

It’s also worth noting that kittens are rehomed more easily than adult cats. If you’re open to adopting an adult cat you’ll not only be gaining a friend but also potentially saving them from being put down.

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.

ginger cat licking paw like garfield, one of the worlds most famous cats

Your adopt a cat checklist

No matter if you’re adopting a senior cat or a small kitten, our new kitten checklist helps you tick the boxes for before, during and after they come home. 

One key thing to note is that many shelters offer essential vet services prior to cat adoption. This will usually include initial vaccinations, cat microchips, and cat desexing. These are some of the cat health milestones you’ll need to ensure are covered in the first year. It’s important to find out when the next pet vaccinations are due so you can follow up with your vet at the appropriate time.

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 five main things you need to consider.

1. 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?

Practising keen pet safety after you adopt a cat is about more than just ensuring they get their vaccinations on time.  And pet parents know it – when we asked 2,000 of them a couple of months ago what non-illness related hazards they feared for their pet, the top five answers were:

  1. Getting run over by a vehicle – 59%
  2. Getting out of the home/yard and getting hurt or lost – 57%
  3. Being taken by another human – 49%
  4. Fighting with another animal – 46%
  5. Emotional issues from me being at work/elsewhere – 33%

Cats can get injured from falls, wildlife, other pets, traffic and more. It’s important to protect against the financial stress of such situations, as well as the emotional ones. Answer – cat insurance.

Sometimes you may also need to protect others against them. Remember that, as natural hunters, cats can impact local wildlife. Before bringing your new cat home you should research cat enclosures if yours will have outside access, so it doesn’t get a chance to be the predator.

2. Food to keep it healthy

Talk with the adoption centre about what food your cat’s been eating while in the shelter. Sudden changes to their diet might cause gastrointestinal upset.

Before bringing your new cat home, it’s important to also consider their age in relation to food. A kitten has different nutritional needs to a senior cat. (Read our answer to ‘Can Kittens Eat Adult Cat Food?’ for more information). If you do plan to change their diet, do it slowly and only after your new cat has adjusted to your home.

Also be aware of things that can poison your pet in and around your home that your cat might take a liking to tasting. Watch the video below to learn about pet poisons, so you can keep your cat safe from accidentally ingesting or getting them on their paws, nose or fur.

3. Litter decisions to keep things clean

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. 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 training a cat to use the toilet!

And remember – the smaller the grain of litter, the more likely it will end up being walked outside the litter box. #justsaying

4. Snuggly sleeping for your adopted cat

Where do you envisage your cat will sleep after the adoption process? Most cats will work out on their own their preferred location within the house to snooze. If you want to try and get your feline friend to commit to certain areas then you might need to consider special bedding. Cat beds and caves, cat trees and blankets all make for comfy catnaps.

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…). Also explore the many health benefits of sleeping with your cat in your own bed.

a newly adopted cat chills in its new bed

5. Almost as important: toys for your adopted cat!

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.

Here are some toy-tastic ideas:

  • Cats are natural-born hunters, and feathers are like the holy grail of their playtime adventures. Get a feather wand or a fishing pole toy with feathers attached to the end. Wiggle it, wave it, and watch kitty transform into a mighty hunter, leaping and pouncing away.
  • Get a variety of small and lightweight balls that your cat can bat around, chase, and swat with their little paws. You’ll be amazed at the acrobatic stunts they’ll pull off while trying to catch that elusive rolling ball.
  • Invest in some adorable plush mice toys. These little critters are perfect for a game of “hide and seek” or “pounce and capture.” Your cat will love the challenge of stalking and “catching” their fluffy prey.
  • Cats are smart creatures and they need mental stimulation just as much as physical exercise. Treat your fur baby to a puzzle toy or treat dispenser. These clever contraptions challenge their hunting skills and provide a tasty reward once they figure out how to get to the hidden treats inside. It’s like a brain teaser for cats and they’ll be purring with satisfaction when they crack the code!
bringing home an adopted cat to a dog

After you adopt a cat, how long until it settles in?

How long is a piece of string……? Adjustment will all depend on the cat, its backstory and your home. A senior cat who’s spent the last few years as a companion to an elderly couple will likely take longer to adjust if its new ‘furever’ home has a toddler and another cat to share its home with. 

After bringing your new cat home take things slowly and follow their lead. Once the cat adoption process is complete you’ll need to allow kitty 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 friend in only one room at first 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 adopted 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 them after the cat adoption process, 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.  

Foster a cat or kitten like this one in New Zealand today.

Bringing a new cat home to another cat or dog

Cats greet each other by sniffing, so allowing them to smell each other is exactly what’s required. As long as there’s 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 then pop a blanket over one to take it away safely) and allow them to reintroduce again a little while later. Need to know more? Read how to introduce your kitten and cat and how to get puppy and cat introductions right.

When you adopt a cat prepare for the unexpected

If you’re eager to learn more about your new kitty and unlock the mega cat parent that you are, check out these helpful blog posts below so you’re even more informed. You don’t know what you don’t know, right:

  1. Dry Cat Food vs Wet: Which One?
  2. Cat and Dog Eye Infections: Symptoms, Remedies and More
  3. Tips and Tricks to Stop Your Cat Catching Birds
  4. Dry Cat Food vs Wet: Which One?
  5. Is Milk Bad for Your Cat?
  6. Diabetes in Dogs and Cats – What You Need to Know
  7. 14 Top Tips to Keep Your Fur Kid Safe in Summer

Also know that, 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 vet bills after bringing a new cat home.

Our affordable and award-winning cat insurance plans will give you what you need with the flexibility of month-to-month payment options and no lock-in contracts. Plus, you’ll get one or more months of free cat insurance when you sign up online.

Now that’s worth adopting.

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