Adopting a Cat. 🐱 What You Should Know?

If at any point in your life you’ve considered having a cat at home, or if that moment is now, this content is for you. A few months ago, I decided to bring a cat into my home. I thought about what I would need, how to take care of it, and what to do if it got sick. I thought and thought because I knew it would be a decision that would accompany me during a stage of my life. When I finally had a clear picture, I came across a photo of Noa on an association that rescues kittens from the streets. In my case, my little cat lived near a road, and it could have been a matter of days before an accident ended her life. So, in some way, they, and later I through adoption, saved her life.

Adopting a cat or a dog is something most of us have considered at some point in our lives, especially when we come across one of those dogs that capture our hearts at first sight or when someone shows us a picture of their cat. If you have kids at home, adoption is likely a never-ending topic, as we call those evergreen topics in marketing.

The decision that may initially seem impulsive is not easy to make. Listening to the stories of friends and family about how their cats came into their lives can be a good starting point for your decision-making process.

Do I adopt a cat or a dog?

I wish we had an answer for that. Not all pets are the same, and they don’t require the same care and attention.

Cats are the most popular pets worldwide. But that’s just a statistic. In USA, we are more inclined toward dogs, although it depends on the city or place you live. The people from L.A. are more into cats at home.

If cats are your favorite animals or if you were a cat in a previous life, it’s essential to keep reading because we’re going to help you make the best decision.

Are we more inclined toward cats or dogs?
Source. Budget Direct

Buying or Adopting a Pet

In Spain, there are a good number of non-profit associations that rescue street cats to give them a better life. We’ve spoken with one of them to understand their motivation and why they believe in an adoption model rather than buying. It’s worth putting yourself in their shoes.

Manuel is part of the Portucat team in Spain. In just the first half of the year, they have rescued over 100 cats from colonies, especially from garages and car engines, as well as dogs and rabbits.

“Gatos are very misunderstood and underserved by municipalities and some people. Colonies need to meet basic needs like food and minimal veterinary care. They survive thanks to their caregivers.” Manuel tells us that, being feral animals, they live in a state of near wilderness, without any other option, as they couldn’t live in a house. Thanks to the efforts of associations like his, they make it possible to give them a better life.

When asked about cat adoption, the association is clear that this decision should be responsible and unanimous when welcoming a new member. It involves taking on new responsibilities, such as providing food and ensuring the safety of the animal.

“Proper nutrition is essential—would you eat hamburgers every day? Well, it’s the same… good nutrition prevents many problems.” The same goes for precautions at home, such as windows. “[…] animal shelters emphasize this a lot. Cats fall and hurt themselves… We rescue many cats that have fallen from windows, and you can imagine the situations they end up in…”

Regarding the sale of animals—”Of course, we are against it… Profiting from the prostitution of a living being? […] You never know in what conditions the animal being sold will end up… abandonment, mistreatment… many of these animals end up in the hands of shelters.”

Manuel, from Portucat, on one of their outings to rescue lost kittens from the streets.
Manuel, from Portucat, on one of their outings to rescue lost kittens from the streets.

What to Consider Before Adopting a Cat or a Kitten

Once you’ve made the decision to adopt or buy a kitten (from this point forward, we won’t discuss “buying”), you should consider the aspects we’re about to present. They will help you become aware of what you’re getting into.  Let’s not fool ourselves, a cat can be very cute and the dream of our little one or our greatest desire, but taking care of a cat requires a lot of attention, money, and effort. Of these, attention is the most important, as if you set aside a certain amount of money each month, you’ll hardly notice it as an expense.  Cats have their own needs and behavior. I increasingly believe less in the comparison between cats and dogs because, as they are cats and not dogs, you can’t expect a cat to fetch a ball (although Noa does) or a dog to meow. Based on that, the value of “better” or “worse” is purely relative to each one of us and to each personality. So, this is our list of considerations you should think about if you’re considering having a cat for the first time. Take note!

Budget

While it may seem trivial, it’s not. The first thing you’ll need when you invest in adopting a cat is money. You’ll need an initial investment to prepare your home with everything the cat requires,
  • A litter box for cats, for them to do their business.
  • Litter for the litter box, which you’ll need to buy every four weeks or so.
  • Bowls for eating and drinking.
  • Food, including quality dry cat food and wet food.
  • One or two scratching posts. Cardboard or rope. The more scratching posts, the less likely your favorite couch will become one.
  • Toys. Balls, a wand, things they can chase, pounce on, and have fun with.
  • A brush for picking up fur from the couch and bed. Better than any vacuum. Mandatory.
  • A cat carrier. You’ll need it for vet visits or when traveling with your pet.
  • A bed for cats. It’s tempting, but they’ll most likely sleep and rest wherever they please. Non-negotiable.
It may seem like a lot of things, but it’s not as expensive as it may appear. Don’t stress, but keep it in mind.
Additionally, there are other aspects that will incur regular and recurring expenses, such as veterinary care🤞. Keep in mind that you’ll need to regularly deworm your cat, incurring a recurring cost. Additionally, you’ll need to spay or neuter your cat to prevent issues during mating season. Depending on the method you choose, traditional surgery or laparoscopic, the cost can range from 70 to 300 euros.  You might also consider cat insurance, and the “mandatory” microchipA good option if you’re concerned about money is to create a budget of estimated fixed and recurring expenses to evaluate if your financial situation allows you to comfortably handle an expense that will be here to stay. In my case, Noa gives me much more than I give her. Positive return on investment. And this is important. If you’re thinking of adopting a cat, you should be clear that it will be another member of your family. You must care for them as such. Below, we present an approximate expense table, so you don’t have to reach for the calculator. 
Initial purchases
$75-250 Once in a while
  • Litter box (8-45 usd.)
  • Dishes (10 usd.)
  • Scratching posts (10-100 usd.)
  • Toys (5-20 usd.)
  • Carrier (10-40 usd.)
  • Hairbrush (15 usd.)
  • Slicker brush (15 usd.)
  • Nail clipper (8 usd.)
Routine purchases
S40-55 Monthly
  • Dry cat food (10-20 usd.)
  • Cans of wet food (15 usd.)
  • Snacks (3 usd.)
  • Cat litter (15 usd.)
  • Litter bags (1 usd.)
Medical expenses
$250 At least during the first year
  • Microchip identifier (30-50 usd.)
  • Feline leukemia test (40-60 usd.)
  • Deworming treatments (15 usd.)
  • Sterilization (60-250 usd.)
  • Vaccinations (30 usd.)
  • Unexpected expenses (30-400 usd.)

How Much Time Do You Have Available?

Another aspect to consider before adopting a cat is whether you have enough time to dedicate to them. People often have the false belief that cats are like the Clint Eastwood of animals: independent and solitary beings who don’t need or want to interact with others. In other words, they’re seen as the sociopathic pet. I don’t share that opinion. As Clint Eastwood himself said in Dirty Harry, “opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.” Trying to be impartial, we can say that there are two versions you’re probably familiar with. Those who have cats at home adore their kitties and have formed a bond with them, while those in rural areas, where cat colonies in captivity are abundant, have a different kind of contact, similar to that with a caged animal, as they’re often wary of humans even though they’re fed by them. Cats are especially cautious animals (they’re felines), and cutting inches to enter their comfort zone takes time. That being said, cats need daily attention, care, and playtime. It’s important to maintain socialization with your cat so they feel happy and grow up healthy. Otherwise, you could have problems with their behavior and mood. Keep in mind that if you’re the only person living with your cat, their happiness and well-being are in your hands. Demanding but beautiful, isn’t it? So, if you want to adopt a cat, you should consider that you’ll need to keep them company, just as they will keep you company. A good practice is to think about how much time you spend at home and how much time the cat will be alone. Many times, due to work, we spend most of the day outside, which means our little cat will have been alone for most of the day.

So, so independent... Two versions of the same story: those who live with them adore them, while those in rural areas or colonies don't adore them as much. They perceive them as elusive, distrustful animals (in captivity) that only respond to the call of food. And who are you?

How Long Can I Leave My Cat Alone?

This is one of the questions that concerned me the most when I started considering the possibility of adopting a cat. What if I needed to leave home for a few days for work or vacation? Will they survive? Will something happen? The reality is that, if their essential needs are met (food, water, clean litter), a cat can spend a weekend alone at home without any problem. With the help of automatic feeders (plug-in or mechanical) for food and water, the base of the feline Maslow’s hierarchy will be covered. While the litter box may be the biggest issue, those with a bit more budget can acquire a futuristic cat litter box with a self-cleaning system (>$500). The next link in that same hierarchy is interaction and relationships. Keep in mind that if we are the “living” part of their known world, they will feel a bit lonely and possibly a little abandoned as well. Your cat doesn’t know what will happen after you leave the house. Imagine the uncertainty for those who come from the streets, after their first few weeks of constant uncertainty about food and protection. Sometimes, you can leave your cat with someone you trust, in a pet boarding facility, or even take them with you on your travels. In my case, when I’m away from home for a few days, my parents come to my house to spend time with Noa, give her affection, and make sure she has everything she needs. I even have a pet surveillance camera since Noa arrived at home. This way, I can see her when I’m not there or when I miss her. It may seem complicated, but once you get to know your kitty better, you’ll know how to manage it. As you can see, this aspect is as important as the available budget. Assess these situations for your cat and your peace of mind, summer or work trips, and whether you have the opportunity to manage them optimally or not. 
Mia is my friend Fany’s cat. Initially, she always used to accompany her on trips, but for some time now, the cat carrier reminds her of the vet and causes her a lot of stress. Mia can spend the weekend at home without any issue. Fany leaves her plenty of food, water, and litter to ensure she lacks nothing. Upon returning home, my friend might find that the cat has redecorated part of the living room, a drawer, and some “feline grudge” due to the uncertainty of her return and because she missed her. 

A New Concept of Cleanliness

Some people spend their day cleaning because they can’t stand to see dirt in the house or even a speck of dust. Is that your case? If so, think very carefully about how your life will change when you adopt a cat. A cat generates dirt, both from the hair they shed and from their paws, especially when they come out of the litter box. You must consider that you’ll need to intensify your cleaning routine when your cat starts living in the house. Although cats groom themselves and always smell nice, you’ll need to brush them regularly. During certain times of the year, with seasonal changes, the cat will shed more hair. Your cat will use their litter box to do their business, which means that every time they enter and exit the box, they’ll end up tracking litter around the living room or the areas they pass through. You can reduce this effect with good clumping cat litter and a good vacuum cleaner. In my case, based on the recommendation of my friends, I got a robot vacuum cleaner that takes a stroll through the house every couple of days, so my cat-inhabited house is even cleaner than before. It was the purchase of the year for me, so I highly recommend it if you don’t already have a robot. However, if you have an open litter box, a broom will still come in handy in that area. Regarding their needs, we know that cats don’t do their business outside, and they aren’t typically taken for walks, so you’ll need to clean their litter box daily. It’s the area where they’ll deposit their waste, and it can start to smell if you don’t refresh it regularly or if you don’t use a good quality litter.
limpieza en casa con gatos

Other Side Effects 

You should also consider that cats are very curious animals. Therefore, they will likely stick their paws into any places they come across that arouse their curiosity or intrigue.
If they find a container with liquid nearby, they may end up sticking their paws inside or even knocking it over. Plants for cats can be both a natural enemy and an object of desire. If you don’t place them out of their reach, they may end up nibbling on them and, on occasion, spilling all the soil on the floor. Also, keep in mind that some plants can be toxic to kittens. Think about your favorite furniture as well. You may have to consider the possibility of sacrificing a piece of furniture or a sofa because it’s common for cats to decide to sharpen their claws by scratching any item they find appealing, such as the fabric of your favorite sofa. My advice is to provide them with more attractive scratching posts in the eyes of your cat, which are also more affordable. And regularly trim their claws. There are repellent diffusers, but I haven’t personally heard any success stories with them yet.  Now that we’ve prepared you for the worst, we’ll tell you that not everything a cat brings is dirt and destruction. In the months Noa has spent in my house, she hasn’t scratched anything she shouldn’t, and all the furniture is intact thanks to my three scratching posts
My cat Noa doesn't like plants
One morning, when I got up, I found my favorite plant like this. Noa's gangsta' powa' look says it all. Naturally, it's not there anymore.

Are There Allergies in the House? 

Perhaps it’s something you hadn’t considered, but cats can trigger allergies in some people. If you already have dust or airborne substance allergies, having a cat might exacerbate this situation.  You should not only consider if you have allergies but also think about whether someone else in the house could be allergic to the cat. One way to check would be to spend some extended time with a cat before adopting one to ensure that you aren’t allergic.  Many associations that rescue and allow cat adoptions are aware of this and are open to receiving the adopted cat in cases of serious allergies like this.

The allergic reaction can be a roadblock to your goal of adopting a cat. Fortunately, rescue organizations often take this into account and are willing to take the animals back when this happens.

Conclusion

If, after reading all these recommendations, you have made the clear decision to adopt your cat and proceed with the process, it means you have become aware of what it means to have this animal as a pet at home and are willing to take it on.  Many kittens are born on the street in conditions that will soon lead them to infections and sometimes certain death. Buying or adopting a cat is your personal decision. But if the breed is not so important to you, adopt and contribute to a better world. Great! It’s a big decision, and you’ll need to stay committed for the average lifespan of your cat, which is about 16 years. 

What type of cat to choose?

Once you’re certain that you want to adopt a cat, it’s time to get into the specifics and decide what type of cat you want to bring home. In this regard, you’ll have several decisions to make.

Male or Female Cats

The first thing to consider is whether you want a male or female cat. This decision is not trivial, as it’s influenced by the issue of heat cycles. Male and female cats exhibit different behaviors during their mating seasons, and you should be aware of this. Male cats typically tend to mark their territory, while female cats often vocalize intensely and for extended periods. It’s important to note that there isn’t a significant difference in a cat’s personality based on their gender. Any primary distinction will come from this aspect.

Adult Cat or Kitten

Another aspect to consider when choosing a cat is whether to adopt an adult cat or a kitten. This decision is also essential, as it significantly affects the cat’s behavior and how you need to raise it. You should understand that raising a kitten requires more effort, particularly regarding specialized feeding. Non-profit organizations usually won’t allow you to adopt a cat under two months old if you lack prior experience. In the case of adult cats, they may have already received proper training and know how to behave. Additionally, you should consider that kittens require more playtime and exercise than adult cats, which tend to be more calm. So, this is something you should carefully consider when selecting your new pet.

Cat Breed

Once you’ve decided on gender and age, you have another crucial step in choosing your cat. You’ll need to decide if you want a specific breed of cat or if you prefer a common European cat.

Opting for a purebred cat can be costly, ranging from 400 to 1,000 euros depending on the breed. This category includes cats like the Sphynx or Bengal. These cats are bred in captivity under a business model involving mating purebred cats and selling their offspring. In some cases, people are attracted to specific cat breeds. However, many share the concern that this commercialization of animals, treating them as catalog items, isn’t ethical. Some might opt for adoption instead. For instance, I was fond of Bengal cats, which resemble little panthers. However, I couldn’t agree with the commodification of animals as if they were catalog items, so I chose adoption without hesitation.

In the case of purebred cats, there is an advantage in that their character and personality are much better understood. This way, you can select a cat while considering aspects that are more compatible with your personality and lifestyle. However, it’s essential to remember that the breed of cat you choose may entail specific costs and care requirements due to its nature. This is also something to keep in mind.

For common European cats, their characters can be as diverse as people. They can be more or less active, more or less sociable with people and other cats, more or less affectionate or reserved. When dealing with associations that spend time with these cats, they can advise you on choosing the kitten that best fits your personality.

Adoption

How can you adopt a cat?

Each association follows its own steps, but the process usually goes like this.
01.

Having a clear decision to adopt

The first step, and the most important one, happens before you start the process. You, as the interested individual, must be clear that you want to have a cat. On this page, we have tried to help you reflect. Sharing your doubts with other people who have cats or contacting a non-profit cat association can help you make the right decision, in a rational manner, setting aside your fears.
03.

Participate in a personal interview

Not all associations send a form, but they will want to get to know you and talk to you. It’s a good time to dispel fears and uncertainties.

Non-profit initiatives depend on individual pockets, with a real vocation for cats and their well-being. They must make sure you are the right person to continue their mission.

02.

Filling out a pre-adoption form

There are hundreds of cat foster and adoption associations in USA. More than one may be near you.

If you’re looking for your ideal cat, be patient, follow their accounts on social media. One day, your cat will appear. After weeks, I saw a photo of Noa, and it was love at first sight.

When you contact the association, they will send you a form with questions for your preparation and reflection.

04.

Signing the adoption contract

At the end of the process, you will need to sign a contract with the commitment to vaccinate and sterilize the kitten, place an identifying microchip, and ensure all the necessary aspects of its well-being.

You will also need to make a small payment for the veterinary care, and you can contribute by providing food or making a donation to support the organization. Then, it’s time to take your new cat home 🐱!