What to Know before Adopting a Cat from a Shelter

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What to ask the shelter when adopting a cat.

Two young girls petting a cat inside a shelter.

There’s nothing like changing a life — unless you’re also saving a life. And that’s just what you’re doing when you adopt a cat from a shelter. Your shelter’s staff has worked hard to prepare adoptable cats for their forever homes. They can also help you navigate the adoption process, match you with the right cat and answer any questions you have.

Here’s what to ask the shelter staff before adopting a cat.

What to Ask About Your Cat’s Personality before Adopting

Shelter staff and volunteers spend ample time learning about their adoptable cats’ unique personalities and needs. By the time a cat is ready for adoption, the staff has interacted with them and gotten to know their temperament and daily habits through playtime, mealtime, downtime, and health and well-being checks. In short, the staff is the best resource for finding out more about an adoptable cat’s personality.

Questions to ask about a cat’s personality:

  • Is the cat sociable or solitary? Do they enjoy being around people, or are they more aloof?
  • Does the cat like to be handled or picked up?
  • What types of activities does the cat enjoy? Do they like to play, or do they prefer to snuggle?
  • Would the cat get along with other pets?
  • Is the cat friendly around children?
  • Does the cat have notable behavioral quirks or preferences?

What to Ask About Your Cat’s Health History before Adopting

Shelter professionals understand the need to immediately identify, treat or help prevent fleas, ticks, heartworms, intestinal worms and ear mites. After all, many shelter animals bring unwanted guests along at check-in, and it doesn’t take much for a few tiny pests to become a large, shelter-wide problem.

The staff ensures adoptable cats have received effective treatment or prevention products to help reduce the risk of various parasites. They also perform a wellness exam and document any past or current medical conditions. These checkups, vaccinations and preventives help prepare an adoptable cat for your home.

Questions to ask about a cat’s health history:

  • How did the cat come to the shelter?
  • How old is the cat?
  • Did the cat have any health issues when they arrived at the shelter?
  • Does the cat have any current medical conditions? Do they take medication or need a special diet?
  • Does the shelter recommend or work with a specific veterinary office?
  • When will the cat need additional vaccinations or parasite prevention products?

By asking the shelter staff lots of questions and learning more about their cats, you’re paving the way for a lifelong bond with a cat that’s just the right fit.

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Date of review March 2022

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