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Adopting cats – How to facilitate adaptation

Many times people don´t dare to take cats because they´re seen as distant and unsociable, but nothing is further from the truth. They´re very loving and affectionate, hence it´s important to know and understand them, especially when they´ve had experiences of neglect and abuse. Cats are easily abandoned because people think they can defend themselves and manage on their own, but they don´t realize domestic cats are dependent on the people who take care of them and are confused and helpless when abandoned. Animals are not objects that one can get rid of because they´re annoying or for lack of time to deal with them, but they´re living creatures that one must care and maintain.

Questions to ask yourself before adopting

  • Do you want a puppy (until 1 year and a half), an adult (over 2 years) or an older cat? A puppy is playful and hyperactive and needs to learn the habits of daily living, an adult cat has learned to behave at home and integrates easily with the new family, while the older cat is very quiet.
  • Do you have time to spend with your cat? Will he be alone most of the time? Who´s going to take him to the vet if he gets sick, or for vaccines? Who will take care of him when you´re traveling or on vacation?
  • Do you have children? It´s important to communicate your decision to adopt cats instead of buying them, explaining that in this way you´ll be saving lives and rescuing them from death.
  • Does anyone in the family have allergies? If that´s the case, a breed with no hair, such as the Sphynx, is suggested.

Sphynx CatSphynx Cat


  • One or more cats? If your budget is limited it´s not advisable to adopt several cats. But if you can bear the expense it´s definitely worth it, specially if you spend a lot of time outside the house, for your cat may end up feeling alone and therefore 2 cats to make company to each other is the best way to go.

two cats looking out of the window


  • Do you have other pets? Usually the tenant already at home (dog or cat) does not readily accept the arrival of another pet because he fears being displaced. It´s important to learn about how to carry out a process of adaptation between the two pets, showing no favoritism to any of them.

Cat and dog


  • Do you have the financial resources to bear the expenses, food, medical services and vaccines?

Adopting cats - cat with the vetImage / Jeffrey Beall


What requirements may they ask me for adoption?

  • Been an adult.
  • Filling out a form with your login details and answering some questions where you inform about the conditions under which you´ll live with the cat and who will take responsibility for his care.
  • They´ll wan to meet other family members to see if they agree with the decision and whether any of them has health problems like asthma or allergies (this may encourage future abandonment).
  • OK by the adopter on receiving visits by the humane society to monitor the welfare of the cat.

Sterilization and vaccines

Some shelters will deliver the cat already vaccinated from feline triple (viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia), feline leukemia, rabies and feline infectious peritonitis, as well as sterilized; if this is not the case, you have to sign in the contract that you´ll assume this responsibility in a stipulated time.

 

 

Advantages of sterilization

  • The operation has minimum risks.
  • In females, it avoids the heat, unwanted pregnancies and reduces the probabilities of breast cancer.
  • In males it prevents sexual dominance aggression, urine marking and testicular tumors.

What tools should I buy for the cat´s homecoming?

  • Litter box for excrements.
  • Cat carrier.

Cat carrier

Image / “Merri”.


  • One dish for food and another one for water.

food and water dishes for the catImage / “storebukkebruse”.


  • Pad or scraper to sharpen his claws and prevent scratching of the furniture.
  • Toys.

adopting cats - cat with toy


  • Malta: a product used to prevent the formation of hairballs in their gut, ingested when the cat gets washed.
  • A cat bed.

cat in cat bedImage / “normanack”. 


What should I do to earn his trust?

• Be consistent in his education, for example, if you corrected him for wetting the couch and the next day he´s allowed to do so, the cat won´t learn the behaviors that you want to teach him.

• Establish a trusting relationship based on respect and generosity. Unfortunately some owners let loose their frustrations and problems in their pets, hitting, yelling and shaking them, often getting to abusive situations.

• Allow the cat to mark the level of closeness that he wants to have. Don´t pressure him into approaching you when he´s not ready. Give him the time he needs to trust you and this will surely seal the bond for life.

• If he´s been abused, more patience is required in order for his confidence in man to be restored. Several factors take place in a similar way to those influencing people who overcome traumas, such as severity of abuse, duration, age and personality of the cat.

• Avoid yelling, force-feed, constant changes in the house or making excessive noise, for all of this won´t help him adapt to the new routine, which would be perceived as chaotic and confusing. He adapts more easily in quiet homes.

What should I do to gain the trust of a cat that has been abused?

  • In principle don´t caress him nor lift him in your arms, as physical contact is still associated with pain. Wait for the animal to take the initiative.
  • According to the cat´s personality, the adaptation time to the new home may vary from weeks to months. Don´t feel bad or get mad if it doesn´t go as fast as you want, it´s just a matter of time.
  • If the cat is hiding behind a furniture, don´t force him out. Motivate him to interact with you placing the food outside of the furniture, while avoiding looking into his eyes so he doesn´t feel threatened.

cat hiding under tableImage / “comedy_nose”.


  • If your cat is aggressive or unfriendly, it usually has to do with fear and distrust. Don´t yell to him, as he´s just trying to defend himself. Help him to release his tension buying toys and playing with him.

owner playing with cat Image“jon_a_ross”.

  • Take him to the vet to be physically examined and receiving treatment in case of injuries from abuse. On an emotional level he may manifest anxiety, fear, depression and aggression. The best way to help him is not forcing him to interact with you, but having patience for the cat to make his progress at his own pace.

 

One Response

  1. Irma V.

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