The first step to adopting a cat from a shelter is deciding if you are ready for a pet in the first place – you might find cats cute but keeping and taking care of a kitten at home is serious business and requires a good deal of responsibility and dedicated effort.
In addition to determining whether you will be able to do the kitten justice, take a good look at your home and family, and see how well a cat will fit in. Kittens are generally more difficult to handle (although they are obviously cuter), as they have boundless energy and are curious little creatures – on the other hand, older cats might be calmer and more docile. Decide what you are after before you head off to the shelter.
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Once you have decided, it’s time to visit the pet store. Take your entire family with you (toddlers and babies included), so everyone can have a say in selecting the new family member, and you can determine which cat gets along best with everyone.
Look through all the options available – your priority should be a cat your whole family likes, and which likes your family back. If you have a high-spirited toddler at home, for example, it might not be a good idea to get a cat that is easily frightened by energetic children and loud noises. Look for a cat that is friendly, and responds well to you and your family.
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Once you and your family have decided on a cat, it is time for some close interaction. Ask the assistants at the shelter to take the kitty out of its cage, and hold and pet the cat. Allow family members to pet the kitten, and see how they get along. The environment at a shelter can be stressful for cats, so you will need to overlook any jumpy behaviour and determine whether the cat is right for you.
After you have decided on a cat, you will be required to fill out some paperwork, and pay a small fee (which includes the cost of shots, and a spay or neuter). You can also inquire about whether the shelter has a return policy – most will allow you to return the cat within 30 to 90 days from purchase, if the new pet doesn’t work out.
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