7 Questions to Ask When Adopting a Cat from a Rescue

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Adding a new feline friend to your family is an exciting prospect and you need to be sure that you find a cat who will fit in with your family. It’s easy to fall in love with a cat at first sight, but as you know, pet ownership is a long-term commitment and it’s essential to find a cat that is compatible with your lifestyle. 

The following questions will help you learn more about your prospective cat so you can ensure that it's a good fit for both your family and the cat's wellbeing if you were to adopt. These questions will also help guide his transition into your home, in hopes of making it as smooth as possible for both you and your new feline friend. 

1. Is the Cat Litter Trained?

Knowing whether or not your prospective cat is litter trained will save you from any unwanted surprises when you arrive home with him. If he isn’t trained you’ll need to decide if you feel equipped to train him yourself.

While it may not be a deal-breaker if the cat isn’t litter trained, you may want to delay bringing him home until you’ve taken the time to create a litter training plan.

2. What is the Cat’s Temperament?

If you’re visiting a cat in a shelter setting it can be tough to get an idea of what his true temperament. Meeting new people is stressful for many cats, plus the chaos and commotion of a shelter or animal rescue can put even the most relaxed cat on edge.

Ask the shelter volunteers what their impression of the cat is. In most cases, they will have spent some one on one time with him and can give you more insight into the cat’s personality. Again, shelters are stressful places for animals and it’s more than likely that the cat will not reveal his true self until he is settled into your home. 

3. Does the Cat Get Along with Other Animals?

If you have other pets at home it’s essential for everyone’s sake that you adopt a cat who will get along with them. It’s important to do your due diligence when it comes to adding an additional pet to your family as everyone will play a role in your newly adopted cat's wellbeing. 

Some rescue organizations perform behavior tests to see whether the pets in their care are reactive to other animals, but not every shelter does this. You may be able to arrange a meet and greet between your existing pet and your prospective cat. 

Additionally, rescue organizations can often offer trial periods, during which you can take the cat home and ensure that he’s a good fit for your family before formally adopting him. Fostering a cat is another option. Again, you’ll be able to see how the cat fits into your home before formally adopting. In the unlikely event that the cat doesn’t work in your home, you will have provided valuable insight on his personality and temperament to the rescue, which will help them place him in the right home. 

4. Why Was the Cat Surrendered?

Knowing why a cat was surrendered may help you anticipate any potential problems that may arise when integrating him into your family and home. Pets are re-homed for all kinds of complex reasons, so try to stay objective when faced with the response. 

For instance, if a cat was rehoused for scratching furniture, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad cat. However, you should evaluate whether you’re prepared to invest the time and energy in correcting this behavior.

5. What Information Does the Rescue have About the Cat’s Background?

Many times rescues have very minimal information about where their pets come from, but it’s still worth asking. The answer can help you create a smoother transition for your prospective cat. 

For instance, if the cat was a feral street cat prior to arriving in the shelter, his transition into life as a family pet may be bumpier than a cat that had lived with a family previously. 

6. Is the Cat in Good Health?

Always inquire about your prospective cat’s health history.

Sometimes pets arrive at shelters with health issues such as mange, malnutrition, or parasites. Often the recovery from these conditions can be a lengthy process and may require ongoing medication. If this is the case, you will need to be prepared to cover the expense and take responsibility for the treatment. 

Additionally, sometimes pets are surrendered to shelters because they have illnesses or health conditions that require expensive medication and hands-on care. If your prospective cat has any known illnesses or diseases, be sure to research the method and cost of treatment before committing to taking him home. 

7. Has the Cat Been Vaccinated?

It’s essential to ensure your new cat receives his vaccinations to protect against illnesses. Many times, rescue organizations have pets vaccinated before adopting them out, but it’s always wise to double-check. While rescues usually ensure pets have received their core vaccinations, you may wish to have your cat vaccinated against additional illnesses. 

If your prospective cat requires vaccinations you will need to factor the expense into your cat adoption budget. 

Final Thoughts

Adopting a pet is always a huge decision, even if you’ve done it many times before.

Before you commit to providing a new cat with his forever home, it’s important to make an informed decision. These questions will help you choose the right cat for your family and provide you with the information you need to make his transition into your family a smooth one.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.