Adding a cat to your home is a joyous event for you, your feline friend, and anyone else who will share your home with you. When thinking of what kind of cat you care to bring home, it's important to consider a few things before you finally adopt a cat to ensure that the choice will be a good fit for everyone. Learning about a cat's age, personality, and medical history can help to give you a good idea of what living with a particular cat might be like. Additionally, considering what you're willing and able to offer a cat will offer a feline their best quality of life, and the best chance at truly finding a forever home.
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Consider what you want in a cat
Before you bring any cat home, you'll want to ask yourself why you're getting a cat in the first place, which may help you choose the right one for you. Are you looking for something youthful and energetic to add excitement to your home, or would you rather enjoy seeing a contented cat lounging in a sunny window for most of the day? Is your goal to provide a safe, quiet cat to live out their golden years, or are you looking for a companion to come home to for the foreseeable future? Adopting a cat is always a wonderful service to the cat and your community, but taking a few minutes to think about what you really want can prevent unwanted scenarios, like having to return a cat to a shelter or rehome a cat later after realizing the two of you have different needs.
What can you offer?
On the other hand, just because you're ready and willing to open your home and heart to share with a cat doesn't mean you won't have boundaries and limitations of your own, and that's completely OK! After all, you wouldn't enter a relationship with someone who wants kids if you've decided that's not for you, right? The same should be considered when adopting a feline friend — it may end up being a poor fit if you choose one who has needs you cannot or will not meet.
Identifying what you can and cannot give to a new cat can help you find the right fit for you, your home, and your overall lifestyle. For example, if you aren't able to keep near-constant tabs on a new cat, or have a lot of fragile things in your home you don't want to replace, then a kitten or adolescent with a ton of energy may not be the right fit for your lifestyle at this time. Already have a house full of other animals, people, and kid friends who aren't going anywhere anytime soon? A cat listed as preferring to be an only pet will likely be a very poor choice in this situation, and will only end up adding more stress to everyone's life, including theirs.
Learn about their personality
A cat's personality is also a huge thing to consider when pursuing prospective companions for life. Many people have the idea that cats are low-maintenance creatures, and when compared to certain pets like young dogs, they certainly require less. However, cats, like any living creature, do require mental stimulation, physical exercise, in addition to food, shelter, and water. Some cats may be more affectionate than others and may demand a lot of your time and attention. Other cats might have naturally athletic tendencies and require a lot of toys, items to climb, and things to chase. And then you'll find some cats who simply wish to be left to themselves most of the time, and likely won't be the cuddle partner you desire in a feline. Visiting with cats and asking shelter or rescue staff what they're learned about a cat's personality can help you decide if you and a certain cat are right for each other.
Learn about their medical history
In an ideal world, every cat is suited for anyone who wants them, but in reality, practical matters like medical costs may affect whether a certain cat is the right choice for someone, depending on their own life's circumstances at the moment. Even if a cat isn't in need of immediate or ongoing medical treatment, like medication, preventative health care visits are an essential part of caring for any pet and should be considered before bringing one home, when possible. Ask your adoption organization if the cat you're considering has any medical issues you should know about and if they have access to any of his medical records, which can help your future veterinarian assess his needs.
Common issues cats may face include feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, feline leukemia virus, and heartworm. While all of these issues can be suppressed or treated with medication and regular care, they will require a commitment of time and money, so if you're currently tight on either of those things, there is certainly no shame in looking for a cat with fewer medical care needs.