Whether you decide to adopt a cat or a cat decides to adopt you, it is important to consider if a new feline friend is an appropriate fit for you and your lifestyle. How much time do you have each day to devote to your new cat? Ask yourself honestly; if the answer is "not a lot" try a less demanding pet to start out with. How much money do you have to invest in a cat? Even those "free" kittens we all see signs for cost money – medical bills, food, toys, litter all add up over time so make sure you are prepared for the financial responsibility of a cat before you decide to bring home a new animal.
Before you head out to pick up your new cat, do some research and decide what type of cat you are looking for. Different breeds have different requirements. Long-haired cats need more grooming and can shed more than short-haired breeds and some might not be comfortable in a small apartment or with children. Make sure your landlord allows animals and that everyone in the household agrees on a cat.
When looking for your perfect cat, the best place to search for a new pet is usually your local shelter or if you're in Lancaster many of the Lancaster CARES members have cats available for adoption. Animals across the country are in need of loving homes that you might be able to give them. Most pet stores will be able to give you recommendations or search using PetFinder.com.
Once you've found the perfect cat, make sure it is healthy and has had all of the necessary vaccinations and is spayed or neutered. If possible, find out as much information on that animal as the shelter might have – what type of family was it used to, where did it live, does it have any special concerns or behaviors, why was it given to the shelter? This will help you decipher your new cat's behavior.
Before you bring your cat home, get your house ready for the new family member. "Cat-proof" the house by putting away anything delicate or breakable until the cat gets comfortable in his new surroundings. Block off any tight nooks and crannies where he might get stuck and make sure there is a cat scratcher
in every room so your furniture doesn't become one.
Also, try to get one room ready to keep the cat in for the first few weeks. Cats are very territorial and having a huge house-sized territory to get used to may overwhelm a new cat. By setting up a smaller secluded room like a bathroom, you can get him used to this space first and add one room at a time to avoid that overwhelming feeling that might cause your new cat to hide.
When introducing your cat to new rooms or people, let him make the first move. Don't force him to come out of his container or overstimulate him by bringing a group of people at him at a time. Make yourself available and friendly but ultimately he should make the first move towards you.
With a little patience, preparation, and research, you can give a needy cat a brand new comfortable home and make a new friend for life. There are hundreds of loving animals just waiting for an affectionate and caring owner like you at your local shelter!