How To Adopt The Right Cat For You

Young woman holding cat and old book, close-upWhen adopting a cat, its important to know what you’re looking for in personality and temperament. Are you looking for a cuddle buddy, a playful pal, or a relaxed roommate? There are many different factors that can affect the way that your cat behaves. You can never be completely sure how your cat will act, but there are certain things you can choose and pay attention to when selecting your furry friend.

We’ve got a great guide for you right here for what to look for in your next pet, and the best way to go about finding your furry soul mate.

Home situation: The first thing to take into account when picking out a new pet is your home situation. Do you have kids? Do you have young kids? How large is your home? Does your lease allow pets, and will you have to disclose it with your landlord? How often will you be home to care for your pet? Do you have other pets? Will you have the time to care for another being? Do you, or any members of your household, have cat allergies?

All of these questions are important in dictating whether or not you’re ready for a cat, and what type of cat will be right for you. If you have children, you may want to consider adopting an adult cat that has had experience with children and families already. Kittens are fun and exciting, but can be a hazard to your young children who don’t know how to “play” appropriately. Kittens are more likely to bite and scratch, and take time to mature and set and learn boundaries.

Your home will need to be large enough to accommodate your cat. Cats can live in small quarters, but they’ll need space to hide, to play, and to go potty. With a cat, you’ll need to be at home at least once a day, and hopefully for long enough to give your kitty some attention. Cats are low-maintenance, but still need love and affection. If you have other pets, you’ll need to prepare to take time to let them all get to know each other. It takes pets time to get comfortable around each other, and you may need to have enough space to separate them while you’re away so that no fights break out.

striped siberian cat isolated on white backgroundBreed research: If you’re buying a cat from a breeder, you most likely already know what traits you’re looking for in your newest pet; physically and psychologically. However, you can still get a good grasp on what to look for with shelter cats to better predict their behavior. Many people believe that gender plays a part in your cat’s personality. Some believe that male cats are more laid-back, and female cats tend to be more neurotic. At the end of the day, it will have to be your personal choice. Cats don’t have a notion of gender like humans do; so therefore they do not adhere to any strict gender rules for behavior.

When you adopt your cat from the shelter, you may not have any idea as to what breed you’re getting. However, there are some traits that tend to be common with specific-colored cats. Cats’ temperament has everything to do with their upbringing and unique personality, and these traits aren’t guaranteed, but do provide a good guideline to figure out what to look for. As with gender, the color of the cat that you choose will most likely be whichever is the most aesthetically pleasing to you.

White: Purely white cats are prone to a variety of health ailments. Most white cats with blue eyes are born deaf, and tend to have poor vision and skin disorders. Not all white cats have these issues, but since they are used to being needy due to their disabilities, white cats tend to be human-oriented, and are the type to follow their owner around the house. If you want a cat that follows you like a shadow, a white cat might be for you.

Black and White: Black and white cats, sometimes referred to as tuxedo cats, are common in feral areas of cities. Since they’ve had to adapt to city life, they tend to be great at hunting mice and bugs, and are clever and full of energy. Black and white cats are known to be less affectionate, since they’ve got so much going on in their little world. (Note from author: My cat is black and white, and while being clever, energetic, and independent, she is a huge snuggle bug in the right moments!)

Gray Tabby: Gray Tabbies most resemble the cats that today’s domesticated cats descended from. Since they are so much like these African wildcats, Gray Tabbies tend to exhibit similar qualities, such as aggressive play, solitary nature, and hunting outdoors. Gray Tabbies would be great indoor/outdoor cats in a more rural setting.

Brown: Brown cats are rare. You’ll notice their chocolate-y hue right away, since the gene for a brown cat is only found in a very select gene pool. These cats tend to be smart, friendly, vocal, and playful. If you fall in love with a chocolate-brown cat, make sure to take him or her home right away, as they are rare and tend to be sought-after!

Tortoiseshell and Calico: These multicolored cats have been claimed as fiery and strong-willed. However, it is important to remember that the Calico and the Tortie are not specific breeds, but a genetic selection of color. Finding a male Calico or Tortie is rare, since the color trait tends to favor females. Calicos have a tricolored colorblock pattern happening with their fur, while Tortoiseshells are more of a swirl-pattern.

Orange: Orange cats are vocal, assertive, and usually male. In fact, only 1 in 5 Orange cats are female. Although they are vocal and assertive, they are also great social cats and can hang with the gang. They will most likely talk back to you when you talk to them, and love to cuddle.

Black: Black cats are the least-adopted color of cat. It is suspected that this is because they tend to be the most independent, and the whole “black cats are bad luck” myth. This simply isn’t true. Black cats are independent yet friendly, and thrive on companionship. They may want to explore their surroundings, but at the end of the day, they want to hang out with their human.

Close-up of a veterinarian holding a cat isolated on whiteThe cat’s previous experience & medical history: Many shelters offer extensive background information on your potential pet. Its important to know as much as possible about your pet’s background before inviting them into your home. Helpful information that you’ll want to pay attention to includes their former home situation, their known temperament, and their medical history. Your cat could’ve been a stray all their life, or raised in a loving home. They may have already shown at the shelter to be relaxed and playful, or shy and feisty. It is important to know your future pet’s medical background, so that you can get everything up to date.

You’ll want to know if they’ve been spayed/neutered, what shots they’ve had and when, and if they have any conditions that you’ll need to take care of. One common condition that many cats have is FIV. FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Cats affected with FIV can live long, healthy, and happy lives, so if you fall in love with a FIV+ kitty at the shelter, don’t be deterred by their condition. FIV is a cat-only disease that cannot be spread to humans, dogs, or any other animal that is not a cat. The only reason to not adopt a cat with FIV is if you already have cats that do not carry the virus.

Cat vs. Kitten: Many people believe that adopting a kitten is the only way to go. However, in many situations, adopting an adult cat could be the best option for you. Kittens require more time, attention, and in many cases cost more than their adult counterparts. Adopting an adult cat allows you to know what you’re getting yourself into; with a kitten, you have no idea what their personality will be like once they grow up. Adult cats require less supervision than kittens, and usually have a lower adoption fee. They also tend to be more calm and can be better for a home with kids, especially if they’ve already lived in a home with children. Click here to learn more about the benefits of adopting an adult cat.

catFoster before adopting: A great way to get to “test-run” your pet is by fostering before adopting. Shelters always need more room for animals, and offering up your home could help save the lives of not just the animal you foster, but the animal that gets the freed-up spot in the shelter. You can offer foster services for select periods of time, and be as active as you want in attempting to adopt the cat out. This way, you can see what it would be like to live with your pet before committing to them for life. You may even find that you enjoy fostering more than having a forever pet, hosting a rotating cast of homeless furbabies.

Allergies: If you or someone in your household suffers from cat allergies, you’ll have a whole new set of complications with adopting a cat. People with cat allergies are dealing with a hypersensitive immune system that mistakes cat dander and saliva for dangerous invaders. Symptoms of cat allergies include coughing, hives, closing of the throat, itchy eyes, itchy throat, stuffy and/or runny nose, sneezing, and wheezing.

Allergies can be extreme or mild. Sometimes, cat allergies can go away with time, but this shouldn’t be assumed. Untreated allergies that last a long time could increase the risk of asthma. If you or a member of your household have extreme cat allergies, you may have to pick a different pet for your home. However, if the allergies aren’t that bad, and you/your household member are willing to try having a cat in the house, there are some factors that you can pay attention to when selecting your kitty to help reduce allergies:

-Male cats produce more allergens than females
-Males that haven’t been neutered produce the most allergens
-Dark-colored cats produce more allergens than light-colored cats
-Kittens produce more allergens than adult cats

You may also want to try fostering before adopting so that you can truly see how allergies affect your household without the commitment of a forever friend. Perhaps you’ll find that the allergic person in your household has a hard time with adult cats and that in order to have a feline in the house, you’ll just need to be a foster home for kittens. For our complete guide to dealing with cat allergies, click here.

Finding the right cat for your home can be quite a process, but don’t give up. If you happen to adopt a cat that seemed outgoing in the shelter, but seems to be shy once you’ve brought them home, just be patient. Your cat will take time to show their true colors. Cats’ personalities certainly seem to be related to their owner’s personalities and the relationship that they have together. Be patient and learn to read your cat’s body language and vocal signals, and you’ll be living in harmony in no time.