If you follow me on social media, you may have seen that I have recently made an addition to my family: a kitten! London is a 9-month-old kitten, and I adopted her from a shelter in a neighboring suburb. She was the first one to approach me in the kitten room, and I felt more of a connection to her than any other kitten in there! It’s safe to say she’ll be my very best friend throughout our lives together!
Before I adopted her, I consulted my mom since she’s adopted kittens a few times over the years, and I knew she would have all the information. She told me what I needed, what I didn’t, and other steps I needed to take to prepare myself for the actual adoption. Thank goodness I had her, otherwise I would’ve been completely lost!
In an effort to help you out if you want to adopt a cat, I put together this list of things you need to know before, during, and after adoption!
Before You Adopt
Things to think about
Are you ready for a commitment? – Cats usually live to be at least 15 years old, if not longer. If you don’t think you’re ready to commit to a furry friend for that long, then you shouldn’t go through with an adoption!
Do you really want a cat? Or will it just be a substitute for something else? – While I believe cats are gifts from above and everyone should love them as much as I do, I am also firm in the belief that not everyone should adopt one. I know many people who mentioned they’d adopt a cat because “they can’t have a dog in the apartment.” Cats are not replacements, they are living beings. If you want a dog, wait until a time in your life when that becomes possible for you.
Does your lease allow a kitten? – Some apartment buildings don’t allow animals of any kind, and some allow dogs, but not cats. If you’re renting your home and you’re think about adopting a kitten, make sure your landlord will allow it! If not, you’re risking putting your cat and yourself in a sticky situation that usually ends up in the cat getting brought back to the shelter.
Supplies to buy
Food – Whether you want to go with wet food or dry food is up to you, but your new kitten obviously needs to eat! Dry food is definitely cheaper and lasts longer, but every once in awhile I like to give my kitten wet food as a special treat.
Food bowls – One for food, one for water, and one extra just in case! If you need to put the bowls on carpet, I also recommend getting a plastic mat to put under them (you can find that in the dog food section!)
Litter Box – A cat’s gotta go when a cat’s gotta go! Again, the size and kind you get could vary based on your living situation, but the cheap $4 boxes from Target work just as well as the fancy kind!
Litter – Something has to fill the box! I recommend getting the light weight, dust free type to minimize tracking around your house or apartment. If the litter box is going to be in a more trafficked area, you might also want to try an odor eliminating litter!
Litter scooper (and a bucket) – You can find these in the cat section of any store that sells pet supplies. They’re basically shovels with holes in them so you can scoop their business and sift through the still-good litter! You’re going to want the bucket to store it in while you’re not using it.
Toys – Your cat is going to want a little something to do when you’re gone during the day, so make sure you pick up a couple small toys. They really like little stuffed mice or ping pong balls that they can bat around. They can’t play with this without you, but you should also get them a laser pointer because cats love chasing the red dot around!
Scratching post – Last but not least, if you plan on keeping your cat clawed (which I think you should, but that’s a whole different discussion), you’ll need to get them something that they can scratch. While they will still go for the furniture, they will more likely go for the actual scratching post.
Carrier – Some bigger shelters may be able to provide you with a carrier if you don’t have one, but most shelters require you to bring your own carrier to adopt a furry friend. Even if you plan on adopting a kitten, get a bit bigger of a carrier that will last them their whole life.
Other things to prepare
Research the shelter you’re visiting – Are they a no kill shelter? Do they cover things like spaying, neutering, and chipping? What do you need to bring with you? Being prepared when you arrive is always a huge help!
Research vets in the area – You’ll need to take your cat to the vet a couple weeks after adoption just to ensure that they’re perfectly healthy! You also need to establish a vet because cats need a checkup every year. Also look and see if there are any pet emergency places in the area – just in case!!
Set up the litter box and food bowls – Before you head to the shelter, make sure that you have the litter box, water, and food bowl all set up and ready to go!
Look for anything that your cat may have the means to get into – Cats and kittens are like toddlers in that they will pretty much put anything in their mouth if they can get to it. Look for cords, food, or anything else that your cat would LOVE to get into and make sure they’re in a safe, cat-proof storage location.
Come with all the supplies you need – This could include a copy of your lease that says your landlord allows pets, your cat carrier, and anything else the shelter requires you to have prior to adopting.
Let the cats come to you – Cats aren’t a huge fan of change, and they don’t love when people they don’t recognize enter their space. It’s very possible that when you walk into a kitten room, they’ll all run and hide. Sit yourself down and let them come to you. Be gentle with them, and wait until you feel a connection with one before you adopt. My family jokes that cats are like wands in the Harry Potter universe. Wands choose their wizard, and cats choose their companion!
Keep your heart open to older cats – When I adopted London, I knew I wanted a kitten to grow with. Sure, she’s an older kitten, but I know I’ll still have a long time with her! If you’re at a place in your life where you don’t want to make a 15-year commitment but still interested in adopting, ask to see the older cats. They still have so much love in the heart, and you could be the perfect companion for them!
Ask if they have any recommendations at the shelter – Many shelter employees/volunteers have pets of their own, so ask about their preference for food, vets, or anything else. They’ll be happy to share!
Let your kitten out in a small space – People often make the mistake of letting their new kitten out in the middle of the living room which is very intimidating to them! Try letting them out of the carrier in a smaller room, perhaps where their litter box is. That way they know right away where it’s at, and they don’t have a ton of square footage around them.
Let them process the new environment on their own time – My kitten jetted underneath the bed and stayed there all night long. I left to run an errand the next day and came home to see that she did eat and use the litter box, but had moved to underneath the couch. She finally started to come out that night, which honestly was a lot earlier than I expected her to. By the next morning, we were bonding. However, some cats can take up to a week or two to come out of hiding, and that is COMPLETELY normal!
Spend time with them – While you can obviously adopt a pet any day of the week, I suggest adopting the night before your weekend starts so you have the most amount of time bonding with them before you go to work or school the next week. Even if they’re hiding under the bed, just lay down there with them. Establishing trust is important when it comes to cats!
Don’t be worried if they have runny stools – Gross, but it needs to be noted! As my vets office said when I called and asked about London’s litter box content, “Imagine if you ate spaghetti your whole life and then ate a hamburger. Your stomach would NOT love it.” As long as your kitten is still eating, drinking, and playing normally, it’s just a change in diet that’s causing runny stools. However, if your cat starts to act lethargic and vomits, take them to the vet! They could have a bacteria that needs medication.
Give them all the attention they need – I have a very vocal kitten and she lets me know when I need to stop doing whatever I’ve been doing and direct attention to her. Sure, it can be a bit annoying, especially when I’m cooking or doing something that I can’t walk away from, but I always try to make it up to her by giving her extra attention later.
I hope this guide helped you out if you’re considering adopting a kitten or a cat! If you have any questions about my personal experience or a suggestion of what I should add to this guide, let me know! I’m always open to sharing or receiving advice!
Have fun with your new furry friend!
Do you have any cats? How was your adoption process? Let me know in the comments!
Find me on social media!