Article by Patricia Craggs
If you have decided to get a new cat for your family, why not choose one from your local cat rescue home or animal shelter? There are so many animals that are in desperate need of a loving home. By adopting from a shelter instead of buying from a pet shop, you help those animals that are most in need to find a home and help fund the rescue work so that other cats can be saved. Many of these felines have had difficult lives so far – they may have been abandoned, abused or neglected by their owners. So, responsible rescue centres will take special care to find these cats a good home. They will give you as much information as possible about their charges' personalities and histories to help you choose wisely, but also take note of these following pointers before you make your choice.
Take some time to just watch the cats and kittens without trying to interact with them. Observe how active they are and what type of attitude they have. A cat that stays huddled in a corner or appears lethargic may be sick, which could mean expensive vets bills in the future. Or the poor cat may have been abused and so is terrified of everyone and everything. If you have the time and patience, please don't automatically dismiss an abused feline. They can repay your care many times over. Take my friend's cat, Sunny, as an example.
Sunny can be affectionate but as she was abused by her previous owners, she can be easily startled and scared. Her new owners found out the extent of her abuse when they went to the vets to make sure she couldn't have kittens. The vet, however, had difficulty finding her ovaries. It was then they learnt that Sunny had been repeatedly drop-kicked by her previous owners and her insides had been "rearranged". Due to this Sunny is nervous around people standing up, but fine if you don't move very much and just lie down quietly, then she will come and cuddle up to you. Her life has changed dramatically by having loving owners.
Observe how playful a cat is.
Some pet owners are looking for playful cats that will scamper about the house and chase and play with toys. Others would prefer a more docile cat that will spend hours cuddled up in the owner's lap.
Examine the Cat
Start with the eyes. Bright and clear eyes with no discharge or weepiness are a good sign.
The nose should be clean and slightly moist. Again, there should be no discharge.
The ears should also be clean. Those that are extremely dirty are potentially contaminated with ear mites. Ear mites can be very difficult to get rid of and can easily spread to other cats at home.
Finally, the cat's fur should be clean, shiny, and free of fleas. Fleas can be particularly annoying to both the cat and the owner. Eliminating fleas once they infest the home can be very difficult.
Listen to the Cat
A cat that coughs, sneezes, or sounds congested can be quite ill and should be avoided. Also, listen for sounds of contentment. A cat who is purring is probably happy and healthy. A meow can indicate either trouble or contentment. A long, pleading meow could show that the cat is ill. On the other hand, a playful meow could mean the cat is already developing a bond with its potential new owner!
Play with Kitty
After narrowing your choice down to a few possibles that appear to have the appropriate personality, it's time to play! See how they play with each other first to get a feeling for their disposition. How each cat interacts with other felines is particularly important for pet owners who already have a pet cat at home.
Play with the kitties yourself.
Take out a string, ball of wool or car keys and dangle them in front of each cat. The one that seems most alert and active is likely to be the better choice. Of course, you could always take home more than one if the decision is just too hard to make!
Word of Caution
Any cat or kitten that comes from a shelter will be stressed to some level. This stress has put them at a higher risk of attracting a respiratory infection. They may also be more prone to bite or scratch you before you have bonded. Most cat rescue shelters offer a spayed or neutered cat, with full shots and de-worming but you must also get your cat tested immediately for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Be aware of any potential problems. Listen to the advice of the shelter workers and don't rush into any decisions.
However, it is so rewarding to adopt a cat from a cat rescue shelter and know that you have saved its life and given it a comfortable home.