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Adding a new rescue cat to your family can be a lot of fun. You likely have expectations of the joy a pet will bring to you and the other people in your home. But getting a new pet is a huge commitment, so you need to make an informed decision. It’s important to ask yourself and those at the shelter a few key questions before adopting a new family member!

Which Rescue Cat is Right for You?

When you begin your search, you should have a clear idea about what traits you want in a cat. You also need to be honest with yourself about what you can handle and how the cat will fit into your life. Then you should get some key facts about the cat’s history and health.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

At the beginning of the pet finding process, ask yourself a few questions.

1.  Do you want a kitten or an adult cat?
Adult cats are often already litter trained and their personalities are developed. Kittens are going to need some training and a lot of playtime, therefore you need to have more free time when adopting a kitten. You also may not see a kitten’s true personality for a few months. 

2. Do you want a lap cat that likes lots of snuggles?
The answer to this question may also help you determine if you want a kitten or an adult cat. An adult cat often has bursts of playfulness but will also have more downtime than a kitten. 

3. How long will your new cat be alone during the day?
If you work in an office the kitten or cat may be alone for 8-10 hours a day. Is this something that you need to consider when selecting your rescue cat? 

2 Questions to Ask the Shelter Staff

The staff members and volunteers at the animal shelter can be amazing resources when finding a new companion. They have experience with helping animals find the right forever homes and have had more interaction with the adoptable cats than anyone else. Beyond personality and behavior, they will know some critical details.

1. Was the cat surrendered or was it a stray?

If it was surrendered it may give you some insight into its personality. Maybe it didn’t do well with children and you will need to consider that if you have children in your house. Or did it have health problems the previous owners could not manage?

2. Does the rescue cat have a clean bill of health? Are vaccines up to date?

You want to find out if the cat has had a full physical exam. You don’t want to be surprised with any long-term health issues you are not prepared to care for. 

What’s Next?

Now that you have the answers to some basic questions and you know what you are looking for in a rescue cat, spend some time walking around a local shelter. There are several in our area, Pet Helpers, Charleston Animal Society has multiple locations, Dorchester Paws, and more. If you live outside the Charleston area search for the animal society in your community. See how the cats react to you when you’re in their space. Are they showing interest in you? Are any of them rubbing against the glass in anticipation of potential cuddles?  Or are they hissing when they see you approaching? These behaviors can help you find a cat with the right personality.

Also, make sure you don’t miss out on the perfect companion by overlooking the less active felines. Cats can sleep up to 17 hours a day so don’t ignore the ones taking a little nap in the corner! Your perfect match may be snoozing during your visit.

Select a few and ask the staff for some one-on-one time in a quiet space with each one. Give the cats a bit of time to warm up to you. Are they interested in getting your attention? They should be! Cats can play hard to get but should still be interested in you paying attention to them and interacting with them. Do you want a lap cat? If so, are any of the cats climbing on you and laying down for you to pet them? Will they let you pick them up?

Narrow the list down to a couple that you love and you think will work well in your home. Then have anyone that lives in the house with you come and interact with the cats as well. It’s important that everyone that will be living with your new family member has input in the final selection.

Talk to a Veterinarian

Once you’ve found the rescue cat that’s right for you, Oceanside Veterinary Clinic is here to help you care for your new four-legged family member. Our providers specialize in a full range of veterinary care including annual exams, vaccinations, behavioral consultations, dental care, diagnostic tests, surgery, and emergency services.  To schedule your new cat’s first physical, give us a call at 843-795-7574 or contact us through our website.

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