Adopting A Cat For The First Time From A Shelter

Looking For a Furr-ever Friend? Adopt a Cat

It’s kitten season and the message is loud and clear. Too many kittens and cats are in shelters and foster care and need to be adopted. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 6 to 8 million pets enter shelters each year. And the estimated population of homeless cats in the United States (70 million) is almost equal to the number of owned cats (75 million).

June is Adopt-A-Cat Month and each year the American Humane Association highlights its message about the need to find safe and secure homes for the thousands of cats living in shelters across the country.

According to Carol Andrecs, president of Forgotten Felines in Westbrook, kitten season is late this year. However, the shelter has no shortage of beautiful adult cats that need forever homes. Even though the cats at Forgotten Felines’ new shelter are housed in a clean, comfortable setting, they still need the benefits found in a loving home. In addition, there are always more cats in the future that the shelter will need to accommodate.

According to The Berlin Longevity Institute, cats can add as much as 10 years to their owners’ lives. Picking up a cat has a nearly instantaneous calming effect on humans, causing blood pressure to drop and the heart rate to slow.

Keep in mind the following when adopting a cat:

  • Be prepared to pay a fee and sign a contract.
  • Understand that the shelter will require that the cat live indoors and not be declawed.
  • If the cat is not already spayed or neutered, you will be required to comply – many shelters offer a discount certificate.
  • Be prepared for the expenses that will be incurred – regular check-ups and high-quality nutrition will keep your cat happy and healthy.
  • If you are introducing a cat to children, make sure the children understand that a cat is not a play toy, but living breathing being. They should be taught the correct way to act around any pet.
  • Know that owning a cat, or any pet, is a life-long commitment. Pets are not disposable commodities. More than 70 percent of kittens dumped at shelters will have to be euthanized because there are not enough loving homes.
  • Choose a cat or kitten that complements your lifestyle. Consider adopting a pair of cats who are buddies or a shy cat who could benefit from some extra TLC. They’re the ones who often languish while the cute kittens and friendly older cats are readily placed.

For first-time owners, adopting a cat opens up a whole new world that counteracts the stereotypes. Often former dog owners adopt a cat when a dog does not fit their current lifestyle. They are pleasantly surprised at how responsive and intuitive a cat can be. While dogs are often “in your face” cats may display more restraint, but are certainly not aloof. Their purr-sonalities are as varied as their coat colors.

Dennis Turner, an editor of “The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behavior,” writes that cats respond in kind to the amount of attention they are given. In other words, a cat will respond positively to a lot of attention, yet can adapt to a lifestyle with less attention.

In our household, we celebrate Adopt-A-Cat month by honoring Hemmie, our polydactyl tuxedo kitty, who wandered into our yard and hearts eight years ago. As with many homeless cats, we don’t know where she came from or who owned her; that doesn’t mean she’s loved any less. Of course, she knows where she came from, but she’s not telling!

Check with your local shelter to see their list of adoptable felines or visit

In addition, the mobile adoption van run by the North Shore Animal makes frequent appearances throughout Connecticut. Visit for the current schedule.

Connecticut Humane Society also offers opportunities for adoption. Visit for their schedule.

Sally Bahner is a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and has a private feline consulting practice. She is the “Dear Sally” on Tracie Hotchner’s Cat Chat Radio (, found on Sirius, the Martha Stewart Living channel. She is a longtime editor and writer on everything feline. She can be reached at mailto:[email protected] [email protected]

By Sally E. Bahner

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