Cats in the House: How to Successfully Bring a New Cat into Your Family

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June is National Adopt a Cat Month (also known as Adopt a Cat Shelter Month). It’s a great time to learn feline-friendly ways to prepare your home for a new fur baby — as well as to know which cat is best for you and how to best care for any new feline friend you might adopt. .

Cat breeding season — kitten season — runs from spring through early fall, and many shelters experience the bulk of their cat and kitten intake during this time of year.

That’s according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a nationwide nonprofit.

So if you’re looking to adopt a cat or kitten, now might be a great time to visit your local animal shelter.

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As with any new pet adoption, there are important factors to consider before adopting a cat, including the time, commitment, and money needed to properly care for a pet.

Close-up of a short-haired cat perched on his indoor cat apartment. Is your home ready for a new cat? Check out the expert tips shared here.
(iStock)

Here’s some important information to help you take the first steps in finding the purrfect fur partner for you and yours.

Make sure everyone is on board

The first step in considering cat adoption is making sure everyone in the household is willing to welcome a new pet, including children and other family members, according to Tina Reddington Fried, senior director of cat programs at the Los Angeles ASPCA.

Families with existing pets should carefully consider whether another animal can be accommodated comfortably or not.

“If there are children under the age of 12 in the house, the child’s parents should be willing and eager to care for the animal,” she told Fox News Digital.

“Children who are older than 12 and entering high school are generally given more responsibility and can contribute to basic pet care tasks,” she said.

If you already have a dog in your home, think carefully about whether your pet will feel comfortable having a new cat in the house.

If you already have a dog in your home, think carefully about whether your pet will feel comfortable having a new cat in the house.
(iStock)

Also, families with existing pets should carefully consider whether another animal can be comfortably accommodated in the home, depending on the pet and its age, personality and needs.

Choose the right cat

When it comes to choosing the right cat to adopt, potential adopters should have an open mind and heart, ask questions, and rely on the shelter staff for guidance.

“Each animal — even within a specific breed or species — has an individual personality and disposition,” Reddington advised Fried.

"Make a schedule" of the family members who will help "when caring for your new pet," Tina Reddington advised Fried of the ASPCA in Los Angeles.

“Set up a schedule” of the family members who will help “take care of your new pet,” advised Tina Reddington Fried of the ASPCA in Los Angeles.
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“As you prepare for adoption, it’s a good idea to set up a schedule of who in the family will help care for your new pet,” she said, “including play, feeding, grooming — and the changing the litter box.”

Reddington Fried encourages adopters to be open to adoption. Why? Because people can “fall in love” with a pet they never thought of before.

Consider more than one animal

If your family is open to adopting more than one pet, consider asking shelter staff to bring home kittens from the same litter.

“Adopting kittens who already know each other will also be easier than introducing a new cat into the house later.”

“Most kittens benefit from having a companion and can learn important skills from each other when adopted together,” she said.

“Adopting kittens who already know each other will also be easier than introducing a new cat into the house later.”

Before welcoming a new pet into your life, make sure your home or apartment is completely cat-proof - for the animal's health and safety.

Before welcoming a new pet into your life, make sure your home or apartment is completely cat-proof – for the animal’s health and safety.

Potential adopters should consider older pets, as they are usually the last to be adopted — and “maybe even more suited to your lifestyle.”

“From the start,” said Reddington Fried, “older pets are already set up for their own personalities — so you can probably find a senior who has all the personality traits you look for in a new pet.”

Find the right animal shelter or animal shelter

Natalie Buxton is the director of marketing and communications for Operation Kindness, a nonprofit animal shelter in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, Texas.

She said owners sometimes have to give up cats and kittens for a variety of reasons, such as allergies in family members or economic reasons.

“The pet you adopt must be spayed or neutered.”

“We do our best to help them with resources such as: [giving them] free pet food and cat litter, to keep cats in the house,” she told Fox News Digital.

But despite the best efforts, cats and kittens are often still abandoned – which is why private shelters, humane societies, and rescue groups are good places to look for a new pet.

A woman touches noses with a kitten during an adoption event.  Cats take longer than dogs to get used to their new environment.

A woman touches noses with a kitten during an adoption event. Cats take longer than dogs to get used to their new environment.
(AP Photo / Andreea Alexandru, Mediafax)

“You can read reviews online to help you find a reputable organization,” Buxton says.

“Non-profit animal organizations will also be reviewed by Charity Navigator or Guidestar, so that can be helpful in finding a trustworthy organization,” she said.

“The pet you adopt must be spayed or neutered, and [those locations] are usually current on [the animals’] vaccinations”, as well as on microchips.

Prepare your house or apartment

When you decide to adopt a cat, your house or apartment must be safe for the animal. Items like poisonous plants, poisonous foods like garlic and onions — plus household chemicals — should be completely out of reach.

“Be sure to install high-quality metal screens on all windows and provide a variety of scratching posts and perches for the cats to use,” said Reddington Fried.

Before adopting a beautiful kitten like this, talk to a vet so that you have the necessary information about the cat's nutritional needs.

Before adopting a beautiful kitten like this, talk to a vet so that you have the necessary information about the cat’s nutritional needs.
(iStock)

The ASPCA recommended talking to a vet beforehand about the right food for a cat’s nutritional needs, as those needs vary by age.

All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location.

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In a multi-story home, the ASPCA said, there should be one litter box per floor. Don’t move the litter box unless absolutely necessary – and keep it clean.

“Cats won’t use a messy, smelly litter box, so scoop solid waste out of the box at least once a day,” the organization advised.

Take it easy with your new pet

The most important advice is to take it easy. Cats take longer than dogs to acclimate and become comfortable in a new home.

Allow your cat access to one room at a time (such as a guest room, office, or bathroom). Then slowly allow your pet to access more space in the house as your new pet becomes comfortable, Buxton explained.

“Take it easy, talk to the cat softly, and let the cat come to your child at its own pace.”

“Having places for the cat to retreat to, such as cat towers or cardboard boxes, will also give them some security in their new space,” she said.

“with children [in the house]take it easy, talk to the cat softly and let the cat come to the child at its own pace,” she also said.

“Don’t force pets or pick up a cat that isn’t comfortable — otherwise you risk being scratched or bitten.”

Know about vet costs

Cats should go to the vet for a checkup at least once a year, experts say.

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Early preventive care should be part of the adoption fee, which typically ranges from $40 to $75, as Fox News Digital previously reported.

The ASPCA proposes $150 as a sacrifice upon adopting an animal “to continue our life-saving work and help even more animals in need.”

A puppy and a cat are playing outside in a garden.  Most vets and animal experts recommend keeping cats indoors.

A puppy and a cat are playing outside in a garden. Most vets and animal experts recommend keeping cats indoors.

Look online for resources on low-cost vaccine clinics such as PetVet, which offer veterinary care wellness centers and community clinics.

To optimize a new cat’s health, Buxton said it’s best to keep the animal indoors.

This will likely reduce the chances of expensive vet bills. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to illness and injury. You can protect your cats by keeping them indoors and letting them out [only] under supervision.”

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The ASPCA estimates that there are 6.3 million companion animals entering U.S. animal shelters each year. Of these, there are about 3.2 million cats.

By the way, if you find kittens out of season, pause and assess the situation before doing anything.

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Newborn kittens and very young kittens – one of the most vulnerable animal populations – are often removed from their native environment too early. Often times, the mama cat may be nearby, the ASPCA advises.

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