How do you pick a kitten from a shelter?

What type of cats get adopted the least?

How to choose a cat to adopt from a shelter?

How do you pick a kitten from a shelter?
How do you pick a kitten from a shelter?

The decision to adopt a kitten was committed for many years: no question of choosing it without thinking! Breeder, shelters and associations, individuals… There are cats to adopt everywhere.

Adopting a cat: a significant responsibility

Before adopting a cat, tell yourself that it is often more difficult to educate a cat than a dog and that it would be a shame to have to regret an overly impulsive choice. Surveys show that about a third of adopted cats are abandoned again within the next year. This scenario is the worst one can imagine for the future of the animal.

So be sure of yourself when you adopt a cat and be prepared to have a responsibility in the years to come (the life expectancy of a cat is around 14 years, but some cats live up to 20 years and more).

Refer to our responsible adoption guide. To make adoption a thoughtful act, Purina has created a guide that accompanies future adopters to ensure that all the conditions for welcoming an animal are met and this is for life.

Choose a male or female cat?

If neutered, your cat, male or female, will make a great pet anyway. The behavior of a cat is quite similar to that of a cat! There are, however, some commonly observed differences:

Females are sometimes more cuddly and males more independent, but the reverse can also be true.

As a rule, males are a little larger than females.

An unsterilized male may exhibit some annoying behaviors: he may be tempted to run away, urinate here and there leave a strong smell, and seek a fight (which promotes the transmission of diseases and injuries of all kinds, often repetitive).

An unsprayed female may often meow and seek out when in heat. Cats give birth very early in their lives and unplanned litter can be costly and above all difficult to manage.

If you already have cats

If you already have cats, they can be a deciding factor in deciding the gender of a new feline companion. If you already have a sociable (neutered) male, a young (neutered) female may be the best choice for both him and you.

The sterilization of a female costs more than the sterilization of a male, especially if the female is already expecting babies. Most shelters sterilize their cats before offering them up for adoption.

Male kittens generally find a master faster than female kittens, probably because they are often more playful, which appeals more to adopters who are generally looking for an active and curious companion.

Adopting a very playful cat?

The vast majority of adopters who come to shelters and associations to find their new tomcat are looking for an “affectionate”, “playful” cat who seems “happy”. The most active and affection-seeking kittens are generally more readily adopted.


However, beware of falling in love with a very “lively” kitten, which may sometimes be more difficult to educate than another… Faced with a hyperactive cat, which jumps on tables and expresses scratches and urine marking in the house, many owners then begin to wish for a calm cat!

Are color and breed important in choosing a cat?

The association staff knows that black cats are more difficult to adopt than others. Studies also show that light cats leave the shelter more quickly than dark animals, especially when it comes to adult cats. White cats are considered more friendly than black cats, although there is no evidence to support this belief.

When purebred cats are available in shelters, they are generally adopted more quickly than others. If there are several breeds present, it is the Siamese who are the most in-demand. Then come the Persian, Russian Blue, and Ragdoll cats.

Choosing to adopt a kitten

Difficult to resist kittens, they are so cute! They are both sweet, playful, mischievous, and curious. But they also require a lot of attention and supervision: small nonsense, educational efforts, availability for games… Are you ready to invest the time and energy necessary to take good care of a kitten? Moreover, everyone does not improvise an educator to teach the kitten good manners.

If you choose to adopt a kitten, it is in spring that there is generally the best chance of finding one easily. Visit associations and shelters, talk about them around you and consult online classified sites. If you want a purebred cat, contact a breeder.

The kitten you adopt must legally be over 8 weeks old, but if possible, leave it with its mother until it is at least 10 weeks old. It is preferable to have a well-weaned kitten; especially for the cleanliness of the kitten.

Choosing to adopt an adult cat

Adult cats can also be playful and very affectionate, but don’t forget that they can have heavy emotional baggage, especially if they had the misfortune of having a difficult start in life. Whatever their background, their personality will already be shaped before they join you.

You may be able to get information about their previous owner or shelter so you know what to expect and how to help them adjust: including their litter habits, food preferences, and personality.

Choosing to adopt an old cat

The majority of adopters prefer to take on a young cat. On average,  older cats stay in shelters 6 times longer than kittens.  A senior cat can however adapt perfectly to a new environment: moreover, unlike a kitten, it will undoubtedly have already integrated the basics of life in society and the rules of cleanliness will be acquired.

An old cat is also calmer than a young one.

If you live in an apartment, he will probably be better off not going out, especially if he has been living in a shelter for a long time.

It is a delicate subject but many elderly people refuse to adopt a cat for fear of not surviving it or of not being able to keep it with them if they have to go and live in a retirement home where animals are rarely accepted. Adopting an older animal puts this problem into perspective: the commitment to take care of the cat is more limited in time.

The formalities of adopting a cat

Even if donated, a cat must be identified by tattoo or microchip. In an association shelter or at a breeder’s, several documents must be given to you when adopting the cat: the identification card, a certificate of transfer, a veterinary certificate, and a general information document on the care bring to the cat.

Ensuring your cat in the event of illness or accident.

It’s never too early to think about insuring your cat in the event of illness or accident. Multiple formulas exist and taking out a contract is cheaper when the animal is young. Being insured can save the life of a cat when its owner is unable to meet the expenses required to care for it.

When adopting from an association and shelter, you will be asked to fill out an information sheet and sign an adoption contract. You will also need to present an identity document, proof of address, and proof of income. To compensate for the costs of sterilization and vaccination, adopting a cat is not necessarily free: 

What to buy before the arrival of a cat?

Provide all the necessary equipment to welcome your cat: a comfortable basket, bowls for water and food, a litter box if your cat has to relieve itself inside, a brush adapted to its type of coat, toys to keep him busy…

Also, think about arranging your interior: create spaces where your cat can climb and rest, put away all the objects that lie around and that could be dangerous (needles, medicines, etc.)

Take good care of an old cat

Beyond 12 years, 90% of cats have osteoarthritis lesions. This disease causes inflammation of the joints. If you adopt an old cat, offer him a very comfortable basket and place him in a warm corner, away from drafts. Resting high up is very safe for the cat. Make sure his sleeping place is easily accessible. If necessary, set up “steps” to allow him to climb without pain: for example, place a stool or a piece of furniture that will serve as a “step” for the cat to climb up.

Some older cats who are a bit stiff can no longer groom themselves properly. These will appreciate being brushed every day, provided of course to proceed gently.

What do you think?

Written by Amma

Additional questions to ask when adopting from a shelter:

Is it a good idea to adopt a second cat?