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Adopting a cat: 3 things to consider when picking out your feline companion

If you’re looking for a new cat, a good place to start is at your local RSPCA shelter or another reputable welfare/rescue organisation. This way, you know any cat you rehome will have been assessed as suitable for adoption, and will also have been microchipped, vaccinated and desexed. And it’s a very special feeling to know you are opening your home to a cat who desperately needs one.

Bringing a new cat or kitten into your home is always exciting and with the right care, you can expect many years of joy with your feline companion. To make the best choice, you should ensure that your cat suits your lifestyle and household, so here’s what to think about when you start looking.

1. Temperament is important

You could meet a wide variety of cats (and kittens) when you visit a shelter or rescue group – quiet ones, lively, playful, introverted, affectionate, confident, cats who love the company of others, timid cats who need to be approached gently, and cats with other specific behavioural needs. So think about what you are looking for in a feline companion. Do you have young children or elderly people in your family? Do you have other pets? Because, compatibility is crucial.

Also think about your lifestyle and how much time you will have to spend with your new cat. If you can do so, adopting two cats or kittens together who are siblings or are already known to get along is a great way to ensure they have companionship.

Carefully observe the cats you meet and discuss your situation and needs with shelter staff, as they know the cats they are rehoming and can best advise you on a suitable match between your needs and the cat’s temperament.

2. Think about age and health needs

Are you ready for a kitten? Kittens are delightful, but they are a lot of work and will need playtime and training. You should also consider that they could potentially live for another 20 years! If you feel a kitten is not right for your situation, consider an adult or older cat. Older cats are a great match for seniors who may enjoy a quiet, affectionate companion.

Some older cats may have pre-existing health conditions, so find out about their care needs to be sure you are able to manage these once you bring them home. This can also be the case with kittens, so be sure to ask all these questions upfront. But remember, cats with pre-existing health issues still make wonderful companions – they just need that extra bit of care.

3. Breed of cat

You will find many different breeds of cats available for rehoming, both long and short-haired, with many being known as ‘moggies’, which are mixed breed cats. If you don’t have the time for long or daily grooming sessions, a short-haired cat would be more suitable, as they only need weekly grooming.

Another consideration in terms of breed is that some cats, such as Persian and Exotic Shorthair, or cats derived from these breeds, have exaggerated features that can lead to health problems. Cats with flat faces (also known as ‘brachycephalic’) are prone to breathing difficulties and reduced activity levels, as well as watering and inflammation of the eyes. It is important to understand this, because these cats are likely to require extra care, including specialised veterinary treatment.

Adopting a new cat or kitten into your home is a joyful experience, especially when you find the best match for your family and lifestyle. Whoever you bring home will be totally reliant on you for many years, and this includes their medical care. To give them the best start, you should visit your veterinarian shortly after bringing your feline friend home so they can have an initial full health check and get used to vet visits.

A good way to help make sure you can meet your cat’s needs for veterinary care is to consider RSPCA Pet Insurance.