Adopting a Cat-What to Expect
When you decide to adopt a pet it is a big decision. You are bringing in a new family member and it may take time for him/her to adjust to their new surroundings and feel comfortable. They may feel at home quickly, or may need a little time and space before calling their new surroundings home, and bonding with you and the rest of the family.
Kittens- Adopting a kitten is a popular choice. They tend to adjust quickly unless they are feral (That is a whole new subject!) and, they tend to fit in with other family members very quickly. When adopting a new kitten or two you should always make sure you are prepared with quality grain-free wet food, a litter box, cat toys and maybe a few extras, like a cat bed. Be sure to get the kitten checked by the vet and keep your eyes open for any health concerns or unusual behavior.
Adolescent Cat- A cat that is a little older but still not fully grown--between 6 months and two years, might need a little more time to adjust. They could require some space of their own for a short time, like a bathroom or spare bedroom. Be sure to find out what kind of food they have been eating so you can provide something familiar to them while they transition. If they are shelter cats they are probably used to any kind of food. Cats are prone to upper respiratory infections, especially when they are in a shelter or kennel environment, so keep an eye on your new kitties for a while and take them to the vet for a check-up right after adoption. Make sure they have had their initial vaccinations and get any health records if they are available.
Older kitties- Any cat that is older than two is considered full-grown. It is best to provide a safe and secure area for them when you first bring them home. Let them adjust slowly, in their own time. They may hide under the bed or sofa and be a bit scared at first. Make sure to keep a litter box and food and water near-by so they can have access without having to go too far from their hiding spot. Make sure children and other pets aren’t disturbing them often, especially in the beginning. It can take up to three weeks or more for a cat to adjust to a new home, so don’t despair. It’s always good to find out a little bit about the personality of the cat you would like to adopt so you know a little more about what to expect. Pay attention to the body language of your new pet; flat ears and hissing are a definite cue to back off and let kitty adjust. It does not mean that your kitty is unfriendly or aggressive, especially if it has never shown signs of this in the past. This is why it’s a good idea to talk to the foster, shelter staff, or previous owner. Cats can be scared and stressed at first and may not eat or drink. This is only a problem if they stop eating altogether, or eat very little for a period of a week. A cat should never go more than three days without food or water. Their livers can fail or they can get pancreatitis if they don’t eat. Take any cat to the vet who does not eat for three days--they may require IV fluids there. This is more common in older cats and cats that have been through a big change, or are over-weight.
Introduce all new pets to your other furry family members slowly, and provide fresh, clean litter boxes for each of your kitties. Treats and toys go a long way to make kitty feel more comfortable in a new home. Most of all, enjoy getting to know your new family member, and remember that indoor cats live longer, happier lives than cats that go outside.