Adopting the Right Cat For You

JACQUE LYNN SCHULTZ, C.P.D.T., COMPANION ANIMAL PROGRAMS ADVISER. NATIONAL OUTREACH

The kids have been clamoring for a cat. You’ve held them off for as long as humanly possible, but now you must decide whether or not to make the twenty year commitment to a new feline friend. To dog people, taking on a cat seems like no big deal – no house training, numerous daily walks or obedience classes. But if you are a novice at animal care-taking, hair on the furniture, paw prints on countertops and kitty games at 3 A.M. — not to mention litter box training and daily maintenance — can take some getting used to. Time must be found in hectic schedules for grooming, feeding and interactive play. If you are considering adopting a kitten, factor in plenty of time for socialization and supervision to ensure that the end result will be a well-adjusted adult cat.

Picture Purrfect
Cats had only one function throughout the centuries: vermin control. Only in the last one hundred years has selective breeding caught on — synonymous with the rise of the cat as a companion. Most purebred cats fall into one of the following three groupings based on physical characteristics:

  • The natural breeds — American and British shorthairs, Persians, Maine coon cats were developed in cold climates. They have long, thick coats; heavy, cobby (square) bodies, and are the most sedate group in terms of energy level.
  • The semi-foreigns — Russian blues, Abyssinians, ocicats are an in-between group whose body shapes are leaner and more muscular than the natural breeds. They have slightly oval eyes and their heads are moderately wedge-shaped. Their activity level is usually moderate with some high-energy exceptions like the Abyssinian.
  • The Orientals — Siamese, Burmese, Cornish rexes originated in warmer climes; they carry little body fat and lighter coats. Almost everything about them is elongated — legs, tails, ears and bodies — to allow more surface area for efficient cooling. These cats are the most active and talkative.

Still, less than 10 percent 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.

When you have made the decision to commit to a cat, hop on the internet and visit www.petfinder.com or head to your local animal shelter, where an array of felines resplendent in tabby stripes, calico patches, solids and tortoiseshell patterns awaits. The feline diversity residing in local shelters and rescue groups ensures you will find a kindred spirit. Many shelters vaccinate, de-worm and test for feline leukemia before putting up cats for adoption. Some shelters spay/neuter before adoption as well. Ask yours for specifics on what is included in the adoption package.

Searching for Mr. Right
Before facing cage after cage of homeless cats, consider your needs and expectations. If yours is a full-time working household, I recommend passing up kittens and adolescents (less than eighteen months old) in favor of a more low-key adult whose energy needs will be easier to meet. If you are a novice cat owner, stay away from “excessive” cats — excessively shy, aggressive or demanding — for they may provide too great a challenge for your first experience. Your best bet is the friendly, outgoing cat, who nudges an outstretched finger offered 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 children younger than seven years of age.

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

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.

Blog post from Petfinder

Dog Adoption Checklist

SARA KENT, PETFINDER.COM DIRECTOR OF SHELTER OUTREACH

Congratulations on deciding to adopt a dog! You are embarking on a wonderful and rewarding relationship. Because adopting a new dog comes with a lot of change for both dog and dog parent, we’ve compiled a checklist to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

 

Photo Credit: Angels for Animals Network

Questions for All Adopters:

  • Do you have any other dogs and how will they react to a new pet?
  • Is your current residence suited to the dog you’re considering?
  • How will your social life or work obligations affect your ability to care for a dog?
  • Do you have a plan for your new dog during vacations and/or work travel?
  • How do the people you live with feel about having a dog in the house?
  • Are you (or your spouse, partner or roommate) intolerant of hair, dirt and other realities of sharing your home with a dog, such as allergies?
  • Do you or any of your household/family members have health issues that may be affected by a dog?
  • What breed of dog is the best fit with your current lifestyle? (You can find information on specific breeds in our dog breed directory.)
  • Is there tension in the home? Dogs quickly pick up on stress in the home, and it can exacerbate their health and behavior problems.
  • Is there an adult in the family who has agreed to be ultimately responsible for the dog’s care?

 

Other Considerations:

  • What do you expect your dog to contribute to your life? For example, do you want a running and hiking buddy, or is your idea of exercise watching it on TV?
  • If you are thinking of adopting a young dog, do you have the time and patience to work with the dog through its adolescence, taking house-breaking, chewing and energy-level into account? (Find more information on raising young dogs in our Puppy Guide.)
  • Have you considered your lifestyle carefully and determined whether a younger or older dog would be a better match for you?
  • Can you train and handle a dog with behavior issues or are you looking for an easy-going friend?
  • Do you need a dog who will be reliable with children or one you can take with you when you travel?
  • Do you want a dog who follows you all around the house or would you prefer a less clingy, more independent character?

 

Size Considerations:

  • What size dog can your home accommodate?
  • Will you have enough room if your dog grows to be bigger than expected?
  • What size dog would suit the other people who live in or visit your home regularly?
  • Do you have another dog to consider when choosing the size of your next dog?
  • How big of a dog can you travel comfortably with?

 

Dog Costs:

  • More likely than not, the adopting agency will charge a fee to help defray the cost of taking in homeless or lost animals. The adoption fee you pay will be a tiny fraction of the money you will spend over the life of your dog.
  • You may need to pay for your adopted dog to be spayed or neutered before bringing him or her home.
  • Some expenses are mandatory for all dogs, including:
    • Food
    • Routine veterinary care
    • Licensing according to local regulations
    • Collars, leashes and identification tags
    • Basic grooming equipment and supplies
  • Other expenditures may not be required but are highly recommended:
    • Permanent identification, such as a microchip or tattoo
    • Training classes
    • Additional grooming supplies or professional grooming (depending on your new dog’s needs)
    • A spare collar or leash
    • A bed and toys
    • A crate or carrier
  • Unexpected costs: Accidents and illness can result in costly emergency veterinary care. Recovery tools for finding a missing dog can include posters and rewards.
  • A dog with special physical or behavioral challenges may require specialized professional support to overcome any obstacles these issues present.
  • For more on typical dog care costs visit Annual Dog Care Costs.

 

Time Considerations:

  • Dogs need to be fed two to three times a day, more often in the case of puppies, and need a constant supply of fresh water.
  • A responsible dog parent should spend at least one hour per day giving direct attention to his or her dog. This may include training, exercising, grooming, and playing or, with cats, it may just be lap time on the couch. Dogs will need to be taken out to potty several times a day.
  • A dog with an abundance of energy needs more time to exercise and interactive toys to keep them entertained.
  • Dogs with long coats may need 20 minutes a day of grooming to prevent matting.
  • Dogs with certain medical conditions may need additional attention, including specifically timed injections in the case of diabetic animals.
  • Remember that adopted dogs may need additional bonding and reassurance time in the early weeks.

 

Shopping Checklist:

It may be a good idea to wait until you select your new dog before you begin shopping for supplies. For example, some items, such as food and water bowls or collars and harnesses, depend upon the size of the dog you will be adopting.

Also, be sure to find out which food your dog was eating in the shelter or foster home so that you can provide the same in the beginning, again to ease the transition. After the dog has settled in, talk with your veterinarian about switching to the food of your choice.

Once you’ve selected your dog, here’s a checklist of supplies you may need:

Necessary Items for Dogs:

    • Food and water bowls
    • Food (canned and/or dry)
    • Collar
    • Four to six-foot leash
    • ID tag with your phone number
    • Hard plastic carrier or foldable metal crate
    • Dog bed
    • Doggy shampoo and conditioner
    • Nail clippers
    • Canine toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Brush or comb (depends on your dog’s coat length and type)
    • Super-absorbent paper towels
    • Sponge and scrub brush
    • Non-toxic cleanser
    • Enzymatic odor neutralizer
    • Plastic poop baggies (biodegradable ones are best) or pooper scooper
    • Absorbent house-training pads
    • Variety of toys (a ball, rope, chew toy and puzzle toy are good starts)
    • Variety of treats (such as small biscuits, larger rawhides, etc.)
    • First-aid supplies
    • Baby gate(s)

      Article from Petfinder