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Facts about adopting a rescue cat

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Transcript: Kitten and cat adoption basics

Hi, I'm Caitlin Lewis, Community Outreach Manager for the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, on behalf of Iams.

Wanting to adopt a cat or kitten, but not sure where to start or what to expect? Well, we're here to talk about everything you need to think about and do before, during, and after a cat adoption, in order to have a great experience for you and to provide a great home for your new pet.

Research is a vital part of pet adoption. So we encourage prospective adopters to make several visits to their local animal organizations during the process. Utilize their websites, so you can clearly understand the needs of your prospective pet, before making this important decision.

Before heading to the shelter, you'll want to identify which cat breed would best fit your lifestyle. Fewer than 10% of the world's cats, both in and out of shelters, are purebred.

The majority, common house cats, have charmed their way into becoming the number-one most popular pet in the United States.

Before heading to the shelter, there are a couple of final considerations for you and your family. If yours is a full-time working household, it is recommended that you pass up kittens and adolescents, cats less than 18 months old, in favor of a more low-key adult, whose energy needs will be easier to meet.

If you're a novice cat owner, think twice about excessive cats—excessively shy, aggressive, or demanding—for they may provide too great of a challenge for your first experience.

Is coat color or pattern important? By all means, choose a cat who attracts you. But remember that the gorgeous calico hiding at the back of her cage may well go into prolonged hiding once she is released into your home.

A cat that is social and relaxed at the shelter usually has the ease to meet the stresses that life throws her way. Consider the whole cat, not just one element.

Your best bet is the friendly outgoing cat, who offers an outstretched paw through the cage bars, and who nuzzles and purrs when you hold him in your arms.

This profile is a particularly good choice for families with young children. A cat in your life can add warmth, humor, and peace of mind. A cat can teach your child empathy for others, while keeping her secrets.

If you can make the commitment, a cat is waiting to enhance your life in ways only a kindred spirit can. Loving pets of all shapes and sizes are waiting in animal shelters, hoping to find a permanent home.

But there are many misconceptions about shelter pets. Shelter animals can make wonderful lifelong companions, if only given the chance. People often think shelters contain only the rejects, pets that have a health or behavior problem.

This is not true. Shelters are filled with animals that have been surrendered by their owners because of divorce, owner illness, allergies, new babies, and inexperienced owners.

Most shelter pets would like nothing more than a chance at a happy life and their own family to share it with. There are so many reasons for adopting from a shelter.

Shelters have all types of pets, mixed breeds, purebreds, young and old. Regardless of the shape, size, or breed, most shelter pets are vet checked, healthy, and ready for their new homes, and will likely save you money, too.

Adoption fees for shelter pets are typically less expensive than those you would find at a pet store or a breeder. Initial vet checks, vaccines, de-worming, and spay/neuter surgery are already included as part of the cost.

You also get literature on caring for your new cat or kitten, plus support and guidance from shelter staff if you have questions.

Pet adoption is an exciting but also time-consuming process. It's always best to call ahead to the animal shelter and find out what documents you need to bring with you. Typical items include:

  • Picture identification with your current address

  • If you're renting, bring your lease or a letter from your landlord. It must state that you are permitted to have pets and how many. Your landlord's contact information should also be displayed.

  • If you own your home, you might be requested to provide proof of ownership, references. Have a list of references handy, including their phone numbers, and ask them for permission before using them as a reference.

  • If you've had pets before, including a veterinary reference is a good idea.

  • Cash, debit card, or credit card for paying the adoption fee. Smaller shelters or rescue organizations sometimes don't accept credit cards. Ask before if you're unsure.

  • Everyone in your family. Many shelters require that every person in your household meet the pet you may be adopting. This is to ensure that everyone gets along and agrees to the adoption.

Once you've introduced a new cat to the family, you want to make sure they feel at home as quickly as possible. Cats’ ideal refuge is a place where they can go and be with their things: a soft bed, food and water, a scratching post, and plenty of toys.

Their area should be away from the rest of the house and out of the line of traffic.

Finding just the right cat or kitten for you or your family is a rewarding experience. When that is coupled with bringing them home from a shelter, it is a double reward.

By doing your homework and with a little patience, you'll have her home in no time.

Let's recap. Do your research. Identify what type of cat would suit your family and lifestyle. Consider adopting from a shelter. And lastly, find out what you'll need to bring to the shelter.

I'm Caitlin Lewis, on behalf of Iams. To join the Iams community, for more information and offers, check out the website.

Learn about the adoption process and what you should do before you adopt a rescue kitten or cat, including how to choose a cat personality that meshes with your family.


Ready to Adopt? What You Need to Know

Ready to AdoptAdopting a pet is a wonderful deed—you’ll help a dog or cat in need while at the same time find a devoted animal companion. But it’s also a long-term commitment and not to be taken lightly. You’ll need to be prepared to provide care, food, training and attention— be ready to deal with a pet that may shed on or chew or scratch furniture—and be able to afford years of veterinary costs. But what you’ll receive in return is priceless and immeasurable: the gift of unconditional love.

Shelter Pet Myths
There are many myths associated with shelter animals that prevent potential pet-owners from considering adoption. One myth is: you can’t find adoptable puppies or kittens, while in reality shelters have pets of all ages and sizes waiting to find a forever home. Another myth is that there are no purebred dogs or cats available for adoption. The truth is 25% of shelter animals are purebreds. In addition, there are many breed-specific rescue groups that work to match up the right owner with the perfect purebred pet. Finally, many believe falsely that shelter animals have been given up because they’re un-trainable, while in fact many healthy, sweet, smart animals have been surrendered to shelters not due to their dispositions but due to situations out of the pets’ control. Plus, many pets adopted through shelters and rescues are spayed or neutered, behavior tested, and microchipped.

Many healthy, sweet, smart animals have been surrendered to shelters not due to their dispositions but due to a divorce, a move or lifestyle change, or a family member developed allergies, or because an owner was not truly ready for the responsibility of pet ownership. Shelters offer adoptable dogs and cats of all ages, breeds, mixes and sizes. And if you’re truly set on a purebred pet, there are breed-specific rescue groups that work to match up the right owner with the perfect purebred pet.

Finding Your New Pet
When considering a new pet for the whole family, it’s good to involve all members of the household in the process, which means having everyone visit the shelter together to pick out your new dog or cat. That includes your current dog. Some shelters even provide special rooms for dog-to-dog meet-and-greets to ensure the right match. It’s also a smart idea to keep an open mind about the kind of dog or cat you want and work with the shelter experts to find the pet best suited to your lifestyle and temperament.

The Adoption Process
Most shelters have an adoption screening process that includes paperwork plus personal references. Expect to pay a fee that covers vaccinations, microchipping, spay/neuter surgery and that helps support the shelter’s costs.

A Period of Adjustment
It’s common to experience a period of adjustment when you bring your new pet home. Remember, your pet has just gone through many changes and is often confused. Dogs are creatures of habit and need time to get used to new smells, schedules and people. Cats are very territorial and often hide for a few days, even up to a week, when introduced to new surroundings. Have patience—this initial adjustment period can last a month to three months. In taking the time to learn about and get used to each other, you and your pet will build a loving relationship that will last for years.

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How You Can Help

Women with dog

If you’re not ready to take on the fulltime responsibility of pet adoption, consider fostering a homeless pet. That means caring for a shelter dog or cat for a limited period of time versus taking on the fulltime commitment and responsibility of adoption. It’s a very good deed, because fostering helps free up space in shelters for more needy animals. Shelters usually supply pet food and supplies like litter and bowls and will also compensate for any medical care costs. Some shelters even have educational programs on caring for foster pets.

Pets in Need
Most often, the pets that are fostered are ones that aren’t ready for adoption, like newborn puppies and kittens, and pets that have undergone surgery and need special care. Some shelters operate only through a foster program and a network of people willing to take rescued animals into their homes short term, until forever homes can be found for them, in which case, all ages and breed-types will be available for foster-care

Right for You?
Fostering can be a good alternative to adoption, especially if you’re not sure you’re ready to adopt, but still want to experience having a pet in your home. Often people end up adopting the pets they foster. But if you’re certain you only want a short term responsibility, note that it takes a special kind of person to foster a pet, since you will eventually need to give the animal up once a home for it is found, which can be difficult if you’ve become attached. If you think you’d like to foster a pet in need, check with local shelters to find out more about their programs and their present needs.

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