Adopting an Adult Cat: What You Need to Know

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So you're bringing home a shelter cat? What an exciting time! Adopting an adult cat is a rewarding experience, one that will bring joy to both you and your furry friend.

Benefits of Adopting an Adult Cat

Cats are considered adults from around one-years old, when they enter the "prime" stage of life that lasts until they are about seven.

One of the many advantages of adopting an older cat is that you won't have to spend much time training her. Litter-training, for example, can be daunting for new pet parents, but adult cats already know what to do; you'll just have to show them where.

Another benefit, notes the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), is that "adult animals require less supervision than puppies or kittens who sometimes can't distinguish between safe situations and dangerous ones and may not know — or care — what 'no' means." Less time training your cat what not to do means more time spent doing the fun stuff, like snuggling and chilling out on the couch.

Tabby cat with green eyes laying on ground looking up.Grown-up cats also have established personalities, which facilitates the adoption process. "Adult cats show you their genuine personalities," explains PAWS Chicago, "making it easier to choose one who fits your lifestyle and family." Unlike kittens that are still developing their traits, adult cats know what they want, when they want it and how.

Choosing a Cat at Shelter

Shelters are a great place to find older cats because you get to talk to volunteers that spend time with each of these cats every day and they can give you a good sense of their tempermant. You can talk to them and tell them about your lifestyle and what you're looking for and they can help you narrow it down to cats that meet your family's personality.

Additionally, shelters often have a room that they can let the cat out and interact with you. This will give you a good indication if it is a match made in heaven. At this session it is important to have all members of the family with you, this is particularly important if you have children, because it is important that your new cat gets along with all family members to avoid needing to return her to the shelter.

While it can be tempting to fall in love with the cute little kittens, they grow up very quickly into adult cats. Starting with an adult cat whose temperment you already get along with can set you both up for a long life of happiness together. Plus, let's be honest, adult cats are super adorable too!

Bringing Home a Shelter Cat

One way to ease your new adult cat's transition into your home is to have the necessary items on hand, including litter and a litter box, grooming supplies, fresh drinking water and the right cat food for her stage in life, such as Hill's® Science Diet® Adult Indoor. And don't forget the toys! While not as feisty as kittens, adult cats love to play and benefit greatly from the activity. Good toys include wands and a few small stuffed animals she can bat around. This is also good exercise for her to help keep her trim and at a healthy weight.

Although she'll probably stake out your bed as her favorite sleeping spot, your new cat buddy will appreciate having choices. "Cats like to seek out warm places to rest. Make sure your older cat's favorite soft bed or resting place is not in a drafty area of your home," says the Cornell Feline Health Center. "Too much heat, though, can potentially burn a cat who can't move quickly, so be sure to think warm, not hot." A pile of blankets in the corner of a couch is perfect, as is a soft pet bed under an end table, and always choose a spot that's a good distance from heat sources such as fireplaces, furnaces or wood stove.

Adjusting to a New Home

As with any new roommate, your new cat will have to adjust to your home, and she may be shy at first as she gets used to all the new sights and smells. Depending on her previous living situation, it may take a while to win her trust, so be sure not to rush this important bonding period. All cats are different, so there is no exact timeline for her to acclimate completely to her new home — but she'll be at ease before you know it.

Adopting an adult cat is beneficial for you and her: she gains a loving forever home, and you gain a loving forever friend.

Christine O'Brien

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