Adopting a Rescue Cat: a Step-by-Step Guide
So, the time has finally come. You’ve thought about getting a cat, weighed up all the pros and cons and decided that having a furry friend is the right decision for you. You think you’d like a rescue cat (good on you!) so where do you start?
All our four cats are rescue cats and the process has been relatively straightforward in each case. Steps may vary from organisation to organisation but roughly, expect the following:
Step 1: If you have internet access, take a look at the cats on the website
It might help you think more about whether you’d like a cat or a kitten or if there are any particular kitties that catch your eye. Be warned, though, we looked at cats before getting all of our four and three of the cats we have are not the ones we originally had in mind to view. Try not to get your heart set on one: it may not be right for you and you may not be right for it. Get an idea of ones you might like to see but try and be open to suggestions too.
Step 2: Visit the rescue shelter
Some cats are fostered so if you’re interested in seeing a particular cat you may want to check in advance that he or she is available to be seen or make an appointment. Once you visit, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire giving more information about your home, working hours, any current pets you have and so on. You’ll also be asked about what type of animal you’re looking for. Remember, the more flexible you are, the more chance you have of finding a companion. If you have a lengthy list of requirements, you may end up disappointed and walk away from many lovely cats who desperately need a home.
Step 3: Meet the cats
A lovely – but very difficult – stage of the process: this is where you can meet cats which may be suitable for you but picking just one can be incredibly difficult. It’s very very hard but try to be practical. I saw a beautiful kitten when we went for our fourth cat but he was quiet and not very playful so he’d have found living with our kitten Buggles very difficult. We had to be realistic. Thankfully, though, we were shown Charlie, who is gorgeous and a brilliant companion for Buggles. Listen to the advice of the rescue home staff and volunteers: some of the cats may have been there for many weeks and they will know them well.
Step 4: Choose
You may need more than one visit to choose but the chances are you’ll meet one of them and fall in love. At this stage the sanctuary will usually reserve the cat for you. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to take him or her home immediately but (particularly if you’re a new cat owner) it will give you time to prepare for anything you may need to get and ensure your home is cat-proofed.
Step 5: Home visit
A home visit may seem like an excessive step but try and imagine if your cat ever had to be rehomed. You’d feel aggrieved at the idea that the shelter just let someone take it without knowing where they lived or how they lived. The visit will probably be quite informal, mainly to make sure you don’t live too close to main roads or any other dangers. The visitor may ask a few questions about your experience with cats or what you can offer a cat (for example, will you expect them to stay indoors, will you have a cat flap etc).
Step 6: Collection
Once you’ve had your home visit the visitor will often tell you there and then whether or not they’ll recommend you. Assuming they do, you can then make an appointment to collect your lovely new family member.
The fee will vary but expect to pay between £50-£65. A shelter like the RSPCA will conduct a veterinary check on the cat and ensure it is up to date with jabs, boosters, flea treatment and worming. They may also have spayed or neutered the cat. In some cases, you may receive a short period of pet insurance cover to allow you time to get your cat settled and then sort out more long term cover. You will also be given a microchip number if your cat has already been chipped.
Step 7: Take him or her home
The shelter will probably put the animal in the carrier for you. You should provide the carrier. Put a fleece pet blanket or other padding in and consider putting a toy in as well. Talk to your new family member on the journey home and, if you can, look at them and/or stroke them. In some cases it will help keep the cat calm. Don’t stroke them if they are not calm though – they may scratch or bite in fear. Instead, talk to them gently. Many cats dislike car travel and the added stress of new and unfamiliar people will not help but they will probably settle down quickly once the journey is over. When you get home, open the door to the carrier but allow them to come out of their own accord. They may be shy but they’ll come round. You’ll probably find that natural curiosity takes over and they’re exploring the house before you’ve even hung your coat up.
Step 8: Most importantly, enjoy your new arrival!
However, don’t forget to sort out insurance and register with a vet (if you haven’t done so already), filling them in on your new arrival and booking appointments for any upcoming jabs. Also consider looking into a cattery or cat-sitter, particularly if you have any trips upcoming in the next few months and, if possible, paying a visit in advance of your trip away.
Best of luck with your new friend!