Summer is a great time to consider adding a feline friend to the household. Dr. Diane Delmain of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine says cats are delightful, playful companions that can provide years of loving friendship, but there are several things to consider to help find the right cat.
Q: Why adopt a shelter cat?
Diane Delmain: Evidence shows that cats actually bond more strongly to their people than dogs, but express this more subtly. While purebreds sometimes wind up in shelters, most adoptees will be regular domestic cats, which tend to be healthier, overall. Feline adoption rates are lower than that of dogs, and it is personally rewarding to adopt a cat knowing that this changes the cat’s outcome so positively.
Q: What should I consider before adopting a cat?
Delmain: A pet adoption is in many ways like a marriage: a lifetime commitment to love and care for another. Cats may live for over 15 years, and adopters should be prepared to keep a cat for life. A cat will also have some expenses. Food, supplies and medical care averages from $500 to $1,000 per year for most owners.
Q: Which cat is right for me?
Delmain: Take some time to choose the right feline partner. Ideally, spend a few hours in the shelter, allowing the cats to adjust to you while you get a feel for their personalities. The shelter can be a scary place for some cats, and shyer ones may take some time to want affection from visitors. Kittens will be more playful, but have more expenses the first year, as a vaccination series must be completed. Adult cats can be a nice addition to some homes, as they may fit in more easily.
Q: How do I introduce my new cat to the household?
Delmain: New places can be scary for cats, and going from a home or outdoors to the shelter to another home can be stressful. Cats should be given a quiet, secure area without other pets for a few days upon arrival. It is not unusual for a cat to hide for several days in a new home. It is best to let the cat come out on its own terms and develop the relationship from there. Sitting with the cat during meals and having play times may be helpful. It can take several weeks for other cats to accept a new cat, and separating them at first is best. This allows all household cats to get used to each other’s scent, and when they finally see each other, it is not as exciting.
Belonging to a cat can be incredibly rewarding. Our shelters are full of cats who would make wonderful pets. Making that connection is a joyful experience.
This story originally appeared on Auburn University’s website.