A cat from the shelter. What should we prepare for?

Maaaaaaaaany arguments stand for adopting a cat :). The most important one is that a pet is given a chance for a new, better life. Months and often even years spent in the shelter might result in trauma, sadness, and loneliness for such a pet. We know it because several years ago we ourselves were looking at such cats behind the bars while looking for our cat companion. We were lucky enough to meet our Luis in Toruń’s shelter and he stole our hearts at the very first meeting. The decision to adopt him was among the best ones we made in our lives. Our life dramatically changed since then, we found a new wonderful and grateful family member!

Even though cats are said to be individualists, they dream of a place near their beloved human. The important thing is to make sure that the decision of getting a pet under inside your house is well thought-through because it is connected with great responsibility and requires specific preparations.

Cat must-haves, or a few words about cat’s layette

One of the first items of a cat’s layette should be a transporter in which we can take our pupil home from the shelter. He can’t drive home in an amazing F1 bolide, after all :). When choosing one it is important to mainly look for its durability and functionality of the cat’s container – both for the cat and ourselves, the size of furry ball carried in it, it’s transport convenience, and whether or not is it equipped with specific equipment that you and the cat need. We, for example, like when the transporter is made of fabric, cause it’s more convenient for us during vet visits and it has a pocket in which we can take a destressing snack. When it comes to longer trips however we prefer hard, plastic one since it can be fastened with belts to the car seat and the cat has more space in it. It is better to look at the visual design last, though obviously every cat caretaker that is allergic to pink color will not pick a transporter painted in such, even if it was the best transporter made yet. Do not worry though – there are a lot of transporters options nowadays and you can be very picky.

The cat litter box is also an extremely important part – if not the most important :). The pet’s toilet should be comfortable for him so it is best to pick a bigger sized one. Let’s imagine a cat sitting on we-know what, doing we-know-what when right in front of him stands a wall! 🙂 If you’re planning to adopt a cat from the shelter it is important for you to remember, especially during the first couple of days in a new house for your cat to assure an easy entrance and accessibility to it, as well as not making it hard to find. In another case scenario, he may choose to do his physiological needs in places not quite prepared for it. Carpet washing is not included in the cat litter box’s price, after all :).

When there’s a cat litter box, there must be cat litter as well. IT is worth asking people in the shelter what type of litter was cat using up till the adoption and to buy the same one at least for the first couple of weeks in a new house until he acclimatizes. The less stress for him the better.

High-quality cat food is also very important. Similarly to the cat litter – we should not change it instantly. If we want to change it it is better to introduce the new food gradually. Cat bowls are also an important part of the equipment. It is worth adjusting them to the size of our (since now) home cat and the shape of its face. Too small bowls or not comfortable once might discourage our new family member from eating and/or drinking.

After our new friend from shelter acclimatizes we can think about getting him a cat tree. Buying it shall, at least partially, prevent our couches and walls from getting scratched. Additionally, it allows him to get rid of his negative emotions that came with the change of living place. The cat shall feel that he has his own couch in the house, and private territory is very important for those animals.

It is also worth greeting the new member with toys attractive to him that will bring him joy and increase his play activities. Playing with your pets is always a good time both for them and us – the owners, and strengthening new bonds by fooling around together is a good way to go.

Shelter’s paperwork

It is not as easy, adopting a cat also brings a bunch of formal paperwork. The duty of shelter workers is to perform a survey with the potential cat caretaker. This allows them to judge what cat shall match a specified person best and it helps the future owner to get to know the behavior of cats currently sitting in the shelter – the workers are valuable knowledge sources about them, they work with them on a daily basis, after all. On top of that, some shelters might require a worker’s visit to the house their cat is going to be living from now on. Such a situation may occur especially in organizations, different types of foundations rescuing cats and giving them for adoption. In mentioned foundations, cats are usually put in temporary homes when they wait for the family to be adopted by. Thanks to that they make sure that a shelter cat or any other that was put for adoption will have sufficient treatment and the owner won’t risk his life, for example by not putting a net on the windows. If the survey and possibly home visit doesn’t bring any problems the shelter worker asks you to sign a specific agreement. Before giving the cat to your hands he is usually checked by the vet and after he makes sure about the cat’s well health he makes his health book.

Cat’s first days in a new house

It is good to prepare a special room for the shelter cat right before adopting him, a room in which he can feel safe. It is even more important if there are other animals in the house already. We know it from our experience just how important and helpful the process of slow socialization and, if necessary, also isolation between the cat and the owners is, both for the cat and people. All small spaces in which cats could get stuck should be blocked off but it is also important to give him a few safe spots, such as sleeping bags, cardboards, card houses or tunnels in which a new resident can feel safe.

Luis and Figo had such places in our house. Whenever they felt bad or just wanted to be alone they would silently disappear for a few hours. We always allowed them to stay in such a “hidden oasis” as long as they needed to.

It is better to not force contact with the cat at first. Building trust with a home cat with traumas happens gradually – the pet himself should decide when to make the next move. On top of that the acclimatization time for every cat is different, so patience is the key. Instead of getting our four-legged buddy out of his hideouts by force it is better to simply sit in the room, read a book and patiently wait. It will help our pet to get used to a situation and with us. If the cat comes out – let’s give him a chance to meet us, we can reach out a hand to let him sniff it and have a yummy snack prepared.

During the first weeks after getting a cat into our home let’s not organize any parties there, avoid taking guests for the coffee and moving the furniture, since even the slightest changes of the interior might frighten our pet, for which adoption is a life changer. Let’s not force the shelter cat to eat nor drink or to get into the cat litter box. Most cats after getting to a new home will try to make their physiological needs when they can’t be seen by anyone. A good rule says: don’t force anything and a lot of patience from our side – believe us, it will pay off.

Adopting a shelter cat is a gesture of a noble heart but also a great responsibility – like for every living creature dependant on a human. Regardless of you adopting a kitten or an elderly cat remember that every cat’s age has its upsides and that grown-up cats can attach to a person as strong as the smallest kittens. Cats can attach to places but they definitely attach to people as well. Living with a cat is a great adventure, are you ready for it yet?

What is Your experience? Is Your cat from a cat shelter? Share Your story with us in the comments.

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