Sunday, March 23, 2014

What Should I Know About Adopting a Shelter Cat?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

Deciding to add a new cat to your home is a big decision, regardless of where you decide to get your cat.  You have to be practical as far as knowing whether your budget can allow buying food and litter supplies, as well as veterinary care.  Is there only enough space where you live to have a certain number of cats/pets?  If you rent, does your landlord allow cats?  Do you have enough time to devote to a new cat?  Will you commit to providing a forever home for the cat for up to 20 years?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, instead, consider sponsoring a special cat at your local shelter or become a volunteer.  Later, when circumstances change, you will hopefully have already met a special cat that you are ready to take home!

If you are ready to adopt a cat, most shelters require an application be submitted.  Some applications may appear picky or overly detailed, and may even require a background check.  The reason behind asking so many questions is to confirm that you are indeed ready for a cat and are committed to providing a safe, forever home as well as any required veterinary care.  Although shelters are willing to take back cats after they are adopted, they prefer to find a permanent placement where the cat can live out their life, in a well cared for manner.

Another concern you may have is why is there an adoption fee, or why is it so expensive.  Most shelters here in Tucson have a cat adoption fee around $100-$200, which generally includes their spay/neuter, FeLV/FIV test, initial vaccines, and microchip.  In addition to having provided these services to your new cat, the shelter also has to pay for the day to day expenses of rent, utilities, staff wages, food, litter, veterinary bills, etc.  As you know, adopting a "free to a good home" cat or kitten from the classifieds who has not had these services performed, would have much higher costs in the short term than the adoption fee paid at a shelter, especially if they have health problems that you are not told about when you take them home.

Talia & Andrea (bonded pair)
When you adopt a shelter cat, the staff is often very knowledgeable about each cat's personality and any potential health issues, which is very helpful for you to find your perfect match.  Most shelters have cats of all ages and appearances, too.   If you know that you will not be at home as much as is ideal, you can consider adopting a bonded pair of cats so that they can keep each other company.  After you adopt a shelter cat and save their life, another cat can take their place, which saves their life too!  In addition, sharing your positive adoption experience with the shelter to your friends and colleagues, allows word of mouth to help get even more cats adopted. 


PAWSitively CATS has adoptions on Saturdays at 3432 E. Ft. Lowell Rd and PetCo at 22nd/Harrison, or by appointment.

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