Adopting Your Next Cat: Things to Consider (Part 2 of 3)

This article is the second in a series of three! See the first post here. The third article is located here.

Left to right: Harper, Blackie, Brienne. Adopted (separately) 2017.

Does it make sense for you to adopt a kitten, or an adult cat? Kittens are adorable… and active. Are all the members of your household ready for a bundle of chaos to join the family? Your current pets may not be so happy about being pounced on at all hours of the day and night. Humans in the household may not be delighted by tiny kitten claws making tiny kitten scratches on every surface (including their skin) in sight. On the other hand, if you’re eager for a playful new baby to raise, a kitten may be the right choice!

When adopting a kitten, we encourage you to consider adopting two. There are several reasons for this. If you don’t have other cats at home, a single kitten will be constantly seeking play and stimulus. The stereotypical curtain-climbing, overactive 9 month old kitten tends to result from being the only feline in the home. With a pair, they will keep each other entertained when you are at work and when you’d rather be sleeping than playing catch-the-toes-under-the-blanket. If you do have a cat in your home already, a single kitten can be overwhelming for them to deal with. A pair of kittens can play with each other when your more mature cat has had enough. This goes a long way toward having a harmonious household, because your adult cat does not have to assert themselves as fiercely to get a break from the chaos. As we like to say, “having two kittens isn’t twice the work of having one, it’s half the work!”

At the SPCA of Hancock County, we have three community rooms. Most of our cats are housed in these rooms. This means we have a pretty good idea how each adoptable cat interacts with other cats. We also have an Official Test Dog for checking whether cats are likely to do all right with dogs. (Our Official Test Dog is a beagle named Emma, who belongs to our Shelter Manager.) Our experience with introducing cats into a home with dogs is that most cats can learn to live with a cat-friendly dog – if the first introductions are handled slowly enough for the cat to feel secure. There are some exceptions, however. If you’d like to have the best chance of selecting a cat who will be comfortable with your dog, please let us know when you come in to meet the cats. We’ll be happy to help! (If you’d like more information about how to introduce your new cat to your current dog, keep an eye out for our next post in this series, “Adopting Your Next Cat: Welcome Home,” appearing Thursday, May 24, 2018.)

Should you look for a male or female cat? Should you care? Generally speaking, since companion cats are spayed or neutered, it is unlikely to matter whether you choose a male or female. It comes down to individual personality. We encourage you to look at each cat as an individual, rather than eliminating half of your options right out of the gate.

In a similar vein, some people associate particular cat colors with personality traits – perhaps because of past experiences they’ve had with cats of that color, or perhaps because they’ve heard stories of cats who happened to be that color. Much as black cats are not, in fact, “bad portents,” calico cats aren’t all sassy, and orange cats aren’t all mellow. If you really wish to have a cat of a particular color, that’s just fine! Please be aware, though, that if you’re primarily looking at cats based on color, you may encounter some personality traits you weren’t expecting. You might even find that you came in to adopt a mellow orange cat, and left with the most relaxed calico you’ve ever met!

When you come in to the shelter to meet our cats, you will be able to go in the community rooms and visit with the cats for as long as you’d like. We often have cats in cages in the lobby, and you can visit with these cats by asking a staff member to assist you. We’ll bring the cat to a room so that you can meet them in a more comfortable setting than their cage. Don’t be shy about asking to visit! If you’re interested in adopting, we would love for you to spend the time you need interacting with the cats before choosing.

Sometimes we will have a room full of cats that you can look into, but not enter – this typically happens when we have kittens who are too young to handle. In these cases, we want to reduce the impact of germs on these babies, who have not had their vaccines, while letting you see them. Please follow the posted signs in these cases – we may have sanitizing protocols before entering the room, or may have posted the room as “Staff Only.”

Our receptionist knows all the cats and can tell you about each of them. She may ask you questions to help her know which cats to show you. If you have any questions, you can ask her or another staff member. We love talking about the cats, and we want to help you find the right fit.