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March 2024

10 Questions to Ask Before Adopting a Rescue Cat


This National Pet Adoption Month, we’re encouraging you to open your heart and experience the inspiring love that comes from helping an animal in need. Pets bring big love – but they also bring big responsibility. While every cat should have a home, every home isn’t suitable for a cat. Are you ready to adopt a rescue cat? Consider our questions to find out!

1. Am I Prepared For The Commitment Of A Cat?

Cats are a big commitment! And wanting a cat and being able to meet the needs for a cat for the duration of their life are two very different things. While you may be ready for a new furry housemate, you also need to be ready for the full responsibility of pet parenthood. This means having the time for daily enrichment, playtime, as well as committing to spend time in the home as (while sometimes they don’t show it) cats do need company and companionship. You also need to have a stable environment, that you don’t believe will change drastically for the duration of the cat’s life. A lot of cats are surrendered simply because circumstances change – so it’s an important factor to consider before adopting!

2. Can I Afford A Cat? How Much Do Cats Cost?

Cats aren’t inexpensive – and it’s important to realise that the cost of having a cat far exceeds the adoption fee.

While there isn’t one set fee, you should expect to fork out for the necessities such as:

  • Adoption fees (this varies from as little as no fee to several hundred dollars depending on the shelter and the cat)
  • The initial cost of supplies (such as toys, bedding, kitty litter, scratch poles, food, and water bowls)
  • Vaccinations (including annual recurring costs)
  • Vet check-ups (annually at a minimum)
  • Other vet care costs (don’t forget to factor in budget for emergencies, or consider pet insurance)
  • Food costs (cats require a complete and balanced premium wet food diet, as well as any kibble you may choose to feed them)
  • Regular parasite prevention
  • Other vet care costs (don’t forget to factor in budget for emergencies, or consider pet insurance)
  • Grooming costs (this can get expensive depending on the breed and grooming requirements)

Make sure you’ve factored in all the above when assessing if you can afford a cat.

3. What is This Cat’s Medical History?

Some rescue cats were surrendered because they have ongoing health issues which their previous owners could no longer afford to maintain. This shouldn’t prevent them from living a lovely life with a new family (they’ll repay you in love many times over) but it is something to assess from a financial perspective to ensure you’re prepared for the potential costs ahead.

A cat that requires frequent vet visits also wouldn’t be suited to living in a remote area if it’s a significant distance from vet care – so make sure you’re able to provide a cat the care it needs if it has health concerns.

It’s also important to know if the shelter has tested for common diseases – such as feline leukemia (FELV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). While cats with these conditions can still live full lives, it’s important to be aware of the ongoing medication and treatment they will require.

4. What Personality Does this Cat Have?

A benefit to opting for a rescue cat rather than buying from a breeder is you’ll have a better understanding of the cat’s personality – as even though the breed can give you some indication, every cat is unique, and personalities can differ extensively even in the same breed or litter.

If you’re interested in a rescue cat, ask the team at the rescue shelter about the cat’s traits and this will help you determine if you’re a good match for them. If you’re a laid-back introvert, it may not matter if you end up with a timid snuggle bug that’s unsure of new people – but this same cat could be stressed out and unhappy in a large family home with new people constantly coming and going. Being upfront about what you’re looking for and what you’re expecting can help prevent a future re-homing if the cat you picked isn’t the right fit for your household.

5. Does the Cat Get Along with Other Pets?

Just as some cats may be nervous or anxious around people, others don’t do well with other animals. This is of particular importance if you already have a pet. On the other hand, cats that were previously in multi-cat households may prefer the companionship of other animals in the home.

Some cats are also not comfortable around dogs – and even those that are may be a problem for households that already have a dog at home. If you have a dog, make sure you make the shelter aware of it. It may be a good idea to observe how your dog and your prospective rescue cat interact with one another before bringing your new cat home.

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6. How Much Grooming Does This Cat Require?

For the most part, your cat will take care of their own grooming – but longer-haired breeds (like Persians, Angoras, Himalayans, and Ragdolls to name a few) may require frequent brushing or even professional grooming to keep their coats in good condition.

This is an extra factor to consider – aside from adding costs it also represents a larger time commitment. If you’re unsure of this aspect of the commitment it may be better to opt for a short-haired cat.

7. How Old is the Cat?

Like the above, this question circles back to time commitment and personality fits. Kittens are energetic and curious, and will need a lot of engagement and supervision to prevent them from getting up to mischief. They’re a good fit for young families (as kittens will be more engaged in playtime) or for adults that spend a lot of time at home.

Conversely, senior cats may be more content to sleep in the sun and likely won’t be as interested in play. Neither choice is right or wrong, but it’s important to consider what age of cat is suited to your lifestyle.

8. Does This Cat Have any Behavioral Issues?

Common behavioral issues seen in surrendered cats include toileting outside the litterbox, aggression – usually due to fear, destructive scratching, urine marking – or even just being a Houdini and constantly disappearing for hours on end.

Whether the cause for the behaviour is medical or psychological, it’s important to know if the cat that the cat you’re looking to adopt has any behavioral issues as this may require treatment or training and represent a significant financial or time commitment.

9. Is This Cat Used to Being Indoors or Outdoors?

This question is all about finding a good match for your own housing situation. A cat who was raised as an ‘outdoor’ cat may struggle to adjust to being confined in the house, which can leave to behavioural issues like marking, scratching the furniture or even escape attempts. Providing cat enclosures and other enrichment can help, but it can be difficult for cats to adjust to extreme changes to their environment. So, this is an aspect to consider if you live in an high-floor apartment or live in a neighbourhood that doesn’t allow free-roaming cats.

Conversely, cats who have been raised to be indoors only will struggle to adjust to life in the backyard. It is important to note that indoor cats live significantly longer than outdoor cats in cities, but if you do keep your cat indoors only, it is vital they still receive plenty of exercise and enrichment – which is where the cat run or even training to walk your cat on a harness with you in the backyard can help.

10. What if it Doesn’t Work Out?

It’s heartbreaking to ask about a possible end before things have even begun – but reputable shelters and foster pet parents should have systems in place to take cats back if their new home isn’t working out. Make sure you’ve done your due diligence when adopting a rescue pet.

Don’t forget it’s not about finding the perfect cat – it’s about finding the perfect cat for you. We’re urging you to open your heart and consider a pet in need – dig deep and consider all you’ve got to offer. Perhaps the cat you overlooked at first could be just right after all.

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Want to learn more about pet adoption? Visit our Adoption Hub!

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