Adopting a cat

Adopting a cat is wonderfully rewarding, as not only will you make a new addition to your family but you will also be giving an animal another chance at a happy home.

Couple With Cat
  • Benefits of rehoming cats
  • Things to consider before rehoming a cat
  • Where to adopt a cat from
  • The adoption process
  • Taking in a stray cat
Black, white and ginger cat sitting upright
  • If adopting an adult cat, they should already have learned basic house rules, such as how to use a litter tray, and should already have a well-established personality and routine. They may also be calmer and more relaxed, although this can depend on their breed.
  • A reputable rehoming charity will make sure that your adopted cat has had a thorough medical check-up, and is neutered, vaccinated, wormed, treated for fleas and microchipped before you take them home.
  • In some cases, the rescue centre will know the cat's history, and can help to match you with a pet that will suit your home and lifestyle. For example, they may be able to tell you if a cat is good with children, other pets or needs any kind of extra care.
  • Leading charities can offer valuable support and advice throughout your cat's life, including accepting the cat back if the relationship doesn’t work, or if your circumstances change.
  • With so many cats available for rehoming, you're almost certain to find a pet that’s just right for you, from purebred to moggie.
  • By adopting a cat, you are giving them the chance to live a long, loving life with you – an opportunity that every animal should have.

When thinking about getting any pet, there are important factors to consider before you bring a furry friend home - this applies even more when rehoming a cat, as they may already be set in their ways or come with a bit of baggage.

  • What type of environment do you live in? If you do not have any outdoor space for a cat to explore, make sure that you look for an indoor cat. An outdoor cat will struggle to acclimatise to staying indoors if it is not what they are used to. Also if your home is particularly cosy, remember that cats won’t be happy cooped up in a small area.
  • If you do not have a lot of spare time, you may wish to consider adopting an older cat as they are usually more comfortable and experienced living around people, and won’t need the same level of dedicated attention as a kitten.
  • Unfortunately, some rescue cats find themselves in rehoming centres as they’ve had a tough life. In these cases, they might come with a bit of baggage, such as health or behavioural problems. Always ask for a cat’s history from the centre advisor.
  • If a cat has been in a rescue home for a long period of time or has well-established behavioural patterns, it can take longer for them to settle into their new life with you. A little patience and perhaps some dedicated training should help them to adjust.
  • If you already have a pet at home, introducing a new cat should be done carefully. See our guide on introducing your cat to other pets for tips on how best to handle it.
  • The cost of caring for a cat can soon mount up, when you consider pet insurance, vets bills, food and more. Financially providing for your pet is an important part of making sure that they are loved and well cared for.
  • Make sure that you have time for your new pet, especially during their first few days in your home. This will help you to build a special bond with them, and help your cat to integrate into your everyday routine.
  • Getting a cat is a lifetime commitment, so make sure that you are certain before adopting a cat.

Choosing the right cat is a case of finding what is best for both you and your pet. For more information on how to get the balance right, read our guide on getting a cat. Once you know what type of cat is right for you, all that’s left is finding “the one”!

Tortoiseshell cat walking

There are hundreds of re-homing organisations across the country, from national charities to local shelters and catteries. You’ll find plenty of options online, or your local vets may also have a list of cats for adoption that need rehoming.

Once you’ve researched where to adopt a cat from, the next step is to visit to get a feel for the centre and get a closer look at your potential future pet!

A good centre will have clean and homely pens with a warm, sheltered area for sleeping, clean litter trays and toys. Staff will be friendly, caring, and knowledgeable, and will be happy to tell you everything they know about the cat, their background, their likes and dislikes and the type of home that would be suitable (i.e. with or without other pets or children). They’ll also want to ask you lots of questions about yourself and your lifestyle to find the best cat for you.

When you’re confident with your choice of centre, the exciting part can start – the adoption process.

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  • Speak to the staff at the rehoming shelter about the kind of pet you are looking for. They should be able to guide you to the animals that they think will be best suited to you.
  • When you have found the perfect cat for you, let the centre advisor know and they will reserve them for you.
  • Some people may think that they will take their new pet home that day, but that’s not the case! Most reputable rehoming centres will want to visit you at home to make sure that it is a suitable environment for the cat and that it is free from hazards, such as ponds or busy roads, before you can adopt them.
  • You will be asked to pay an adoption fee – the cost of this can vary depending on the centre. This fee will cover all of the care and treatment that your cat received whilst in the shelter.
  • Most shelters will either neuter and microchip your cat before you take them home, or ask you to sign an agreement promising that you will do it yourself in the near future.

Although most of us will plan on rehoming a cat, sometimes the unexpected can happen. If you come across a stray cat, or a cat starts to adopt your home as its own, there are several things you should do before taking it in.

Firstly, you should confirm if the cat has an owner. You can start by checking for a collar on the cat, asking your neighbours, and putting up posters in your local area. Putting a detachable collar on the cat with your own message enquiring about the owner and including your contact details can also help.

If none of these efforts identify the owner, then take the cat to the vet to be checked for a microchip. If the cat has been microchipped, then your vet should be able to use the information stored on it to reunite the cat with their owner.

If there is no microchip, the owner cannot be tracked down or they abandoned the cat, then you may then be able to adopt the cat. You will want to get them a full check-up at the vet to make sure that they are healthy, and confirm if they need any treatment ranging from worming to neutering.

However a cat comes into your life, you can look forward to a fulfilling future, making lots of memories with your newly adopted family member! For more advice on welcoming a new cat home, read our article here: Welcoming your new cat home.

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