Cats: human’s elusive companion. Americans own about 85 million of these cute, carnivorous creatures.³ If you’re considering joining them, adoption is one of the most economical options because shelters and rescues will ensure your future cat is healthy, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated. While adoption fees range between $30 to $180, many organizations run free or discounted adoption campaigns on a regular basis.⁴
There are hundreds of thousands of animal shelters around the country, so where do you start? Here are a few things you should know about adopting a cat.
First, think long and hard about what type of cat you want. Cats have varied personalities and temperaments! Many cats are rehomed due to aggression or other issues, so ask questions about the cat’s behavior upfront to be sure it’s a good fit.³ Consider your lifestyle, whether or not you have small children around regularly, the breed of cat you prefer, and even what color you like. With ideas in mind, you can find a perfect cat that will check all your boxes.
The second thing you should do is search for a humane society, county animal shelter, adoption clinic, or rescue organization in your area. Take your time to research their fees and find what best fits your budget. Depending on where you live, the cost of adoption will vary. The quality of care the pets receive varies as well, so ask questions about medical records, examinations, and vaccines your potential pet has received before you sign any adoption papers.
Adopting a rehomed cat is another great way to find your furry companion. Rehoming simply means that you agree to take in someone else's cat. Talk to your coworkers, friends, family, or even social media groups; It’s likely someone will know a cat with a litter if you’re looking for a kitten.
Keep in mind that the reasons someone gives up a cat are often difficult (e.g., an elderly person who cannot properly care for their pet anymore). Be gentle with the former pet parent and keep the conversation as honest as possible.
The process of rehoming a cat to another pet parent can take a bit longer than if you went to a shelter, so be patient if you choose this route.⁵ If done right, you’ll learn a lot about the cat’s medical history and their personality.
You might have a cat or two living in your neighborhood who have taken a liking to you. If it’s crossed your mind to take them in, you aren’t alone: roughly 27% of stray cats are taken in as pets.³ Keep in mind that there’s a massive difference between a feral cat and a stray, so be careful.
A feral cat likely doesn’t want anything to do with humans, whereas a stray cat likely had an owner who abandoned or lost them.⁶ Take the time to locate the previous owner by posting flyers, making social media posts, and taking them to the vet to check for a microchip. If you can’t find their owner, then you may have a furry new addition to your family!
Some preparation is necessary for adding a cat to your family, whether you took in a stray, paid a local shelter, or adopted a rehomed cat. The first year of owning a cat can cost anywhere between $695 to $3,100; of course, it’s on the higher end if you choose to spoil your new addition or have to pay for extensive veterinary care out of pocket.⁴ Consider your current budget and what you can skip purchasing for your new pal, like a bed or expensive litter.
While talking with your friends, ask them for vet recommendations. They’ll know what your economic situation is and give you honest opinions on which vets in the area are trustworthy. If you own a dog already, take a moment to give your vet a call to schedule an assessment of your new cat.
If you choose to take in a stray or have any reason to doubt your cat’s health, have your vet check them for feline HPV and rabies. Be prepared to pay for the cat's vaccinations and potential health complications, like tooth extractions.
As you prepare to bring your new friend home, don’t forget to get a quote for cat insurance. MetLife’s pet insurance can help save you thousands on their care, even if you choose to bring home a senior cat.¹,² Our policies don’t have an age limit for your furry companion, so don’t worry about who you choose — your new best friend is waiting on you to bring them home!