Checklist for adopting a new cat
- Questions to ask before the first visit
- Additional questions to ask when adopting from a shelter:
- Things to check for yourself during the visit:
Adopting a new cat is a very exciting time! This list is made to help you find a kitten in good physical and behavioral health and who is also adapted to your lifestyle. This list is a guide and is by no means exhaustive. If an answer to the questions asked is not the one expected, this cannot prevent you from adopting the kitten, but at least you are informed. It’s just to give you some tools and some tips to pay attention to!
Questions to ask before the first visit
Is it necessary to see the kitten before you commit to adopting it? It’s hard to resist a kitten once it’s in front of you, so make sure you have as much objective information about it as possible before heading out to meet it. Here are some questions to guide you:
What is the kitten’s date of birth?
Kittens less than 8 weeks old should not yet be separated from their mother.
Will I be able to see the kitten’s mother?
When you buy a kitten from a breeder or private individual, you should be able to meet its mother. This way, you will see his temperament (which will probably be passed on to his kittens) and you can be sure that the kitten does not come from elsewhere. This may not be possible if the kitten comes from a shelter.
Was the kitten raised on a bottle or by its mother?
Bottle-raised kittens tend to be needier and less aware of social queues than kittens that were raised by their mothers. This is not bad, but it can affect the relationship you will have with your new pet.
4. Where was the kitten born and raised?
Ideally, a kitten destined to become a pet should have spent most of its time before adoption in a family environment where it will have been exposed to as many situations, people, and different species as possible. The first nine weeks of a kitten’s life are when they learn about the world around them. If he has not been exposed enough, he may be more stressed and he will have more difficulty adapting to a new environment. This does not mean that it will be impossible.
Did the kitten grow up alongside its siblings?
Tips: choose kittens in the shelter
Kittens that grow up with other kittens generally have a more balanced personality, especially when it comes to interacting with other cats and with humans.
Is the identity of the kitten’s father known?
If so, what is his personality? A kitten’s personality is partly influenced by that of both parents. Any information on this subject can give you an idea of the evolution of your new companion.
Is the kitten affectionate, outgoing, or stressed?
If you decide to visit the kitten, it may behave differently around you than around people it knows well. Ask the family, shelter staff, or breeder if they would recommend a visit or not.
Was the kitten exposed to a variety of people, sounds, smells, sights, and experiences while growing?
We don’t realize it, but our homes are filled with many new sounds, smells, and experiences that a kitten has to get used to. If he’s been exposed to a variety of different people, experiences, sounds, smells, and sights, he’ll be more likely to quickly become comfortable in your home.
Is the kitten completely weaned?
Kittens that are not ready to feed themselves on kibble and still need breast milk are not ready for adoption. By the age of 8 weeks, they should no longer be breastfed and ready to move to their new home.
Has the kitten had any health problems?
Certain health problems in young kittens can predispose them to fragilities. A respiratory infection at the age of a few weeks can make them prone to a runny nose whenever their immunity wanes, during stress for example. That’s not reason enough not to adopt it, but it’s important to know.
Was the mother of the kitten vaccinated before the kittens were born? What vaccines has she received?
If the mother has been properly vaccinated, the kittens will be much less likely to be infected with viruses that cause diseases like coryza, typhus, feline leukemia, etc.
Has the mother of the kitten been tested for diseases that can be transmitted to her kittens during gestation?
Certain diseases like feline leukemia (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and toxoplasmosis can be transmitted from an infected mother to her kittens during gestation.
Does the kitten have long hair?
Long-haired cats need a lot of grooming, which they don’t necessarily enjoy. If you adopt a long-haired kitten, it is important to make sure that you have the time and the patience to teach him to get used to being brushed and to continue brushing him daily.
Is one of the kitten’s parents a purebred cat?
This will give you an idea of some breed-related personality traits, level of care, and possible health issues.
Is the kitten socialized with dogs?
Having had positive contact with dogs at a young age is an advantage if you have had a dog before or plan to have one in the future.
If it is a purebred cat, did one of the parents or the cats of the previous litter present diseases that the kitten could inherit?
Some breeds are predisposed to physical illnesses or disorders. Knowing if other family members have been affected, and how much, can help determine your kitten’s risk. Also, ask the breeder or family if the parents have been tested for hereditary diseases. Although the absence of inherited diseases does not guarantee that your kitten will be healthy forever, it does increase her likelihood of being healthy for longer.