Tips for Adopting and Taking Care of Your New Feline Friend

I always wanted a cat. When I was in sixth grade, I demanded that my Christmas present was a kitten. When my mom tried to argue or suggest other presents, I turned my head and stood my ground. In reality, I was not getting a cat, no matter how hard I tried. Why? My brother ruined it for me. Inconveniently, he is allergic to cats. While I fully knew that, my sixth-grade-self was determined to get that cat. Besides, I didn’t really see it as a problem. In my head, I decided that Zach would just have to get over it because—gosh darn it—I wanted that cat!


I didn’t end up getting a cat. My parents took Zach’s allergies more seriously than I did, saying that a cat was not an option. I was heartbroken. After accepting defeat, I didn’t really bring up adopting a cat again. But when I realized I was going to be living alone this year, I knew it was time for me to finally fulfill my dream of getting a cat. 


I had no clue where to start. I obviously needed to get a cat, but I didn’t know what essentials I should buy and what wasn’t necessary to buy for my cat. There were so many questions up in the air, I didn’t know where to begin. 


Adopting any animal by yourself can be overwhelming. Cats especially can be difficult because they are very picky and usually have big personalities. To help y’all out, here are my tips and tricks on adopting and taking care of a new cat.


The Adoption Process


So you’ve decided you want to adopt a cat—how exciting! Where do you start? 

First, before you dive into actually adopting your cat, think about what you are looking for. It is important to identify what type of cat best fits your lifestyle. 

  • Consider the age first: does it matter to you? It’s important to keep in mind that kittens require a lot of work and attention initially. Really old cats also require more work most of the time, as they might have some health issues.
  • Consider if you are financially stable enough to take care of a cat with extra medical needs. When looking at cats, you may fall in love with a sick kitty that needs a home. I know it’s tempting to adopt that cat, but make sure you can afford it first. 
  • Consider the type of personality that molds best with you. Do you want a cuddly cat? Do you want a playful cat? Are you okay with a more skittish cat?  Ask yourself what you really want in your new furry friend.

Now that you know what you are looking for, you have to find a cat next. When thinking of where to get your cat from, consider adopting rather than buying it at a pet store or from a breeder. There are many cats in shelters and foster homes that need permanent loving homes.  

Personally, I used the website Petfinder, which shows pets near you that need to be adopted and are usually in foster homes. There are other websites, such as Pet Gotcha Day, which has videos of the pets you are looking at rather than just pictures.


You can also adopt from a humane society near you. This is always a good option since humane societies neuter or spay their animals before they sell them to you, as well as update their vaccines. 


Must-Haves for Your Kitty


Now you’ve picked out a cat! Yay!!

Before I get into the list of items and such, this whole process can get expensive—and fast. A Godsend for me was the website Chewy. They have inexpensive pet supplies that you get shipped to your place. It’s convenient and cheap, which saved me so much money.

There are a lot of pet supplies out there and it’s hard to know absolutely everything you need. While I recommend getting most of the supplies before you bring your kitty home, some will be specific to their personality. 


1.  A cat tree. It’s important to have things for your cat to climb and scratch on, and a cat tree fulfills those needs perfectly.

2.  Water and food bowls. This is very specific from cat to cat, which came as a surprise to me. Most are picky about where they eat or drink from. A lot of cats won’t eat out of normal bowls because it hurts their whiskers by bending them. There is a bowl that is shaped to avoid this, which is Dr. Catsby’s Whisker Relief Bowl. With water, some cats won’t drink unless it’s moving, so you may have to buy them a very extra-looking fountain.

3.  Litter and litter box. It’s a good idea to avoid overly perfumed litter, as that may irritate your cat's skin or stomach. I got a sifting litter box but quickly learned it wasn’t that functional, so I ditched the sifter part and ended up just using it like a normal litter box. You don’t really need anything fancy. 

4.  Litter box liners. These will save your life. They are essentially trash bags you put in the litter box before the litter so when you want to throw the litter out you just tie it up and tow that sh*t away.

5.  A scoop for the litter box. This is pretty self-explanatory.

6.  Food. I would recommend staying with the food the cat was fed previously, as the cat is most used to that diet. If you really want to change the food, add some of the new food to the old food gradually to introduce it to their system. 

7.  Cat carrier. It doesn’t really matter what cat carrier you have, just make sure it fits your cat's weight. I would recommend getting one that opens from the top, though, because it makes getting the cat in and out of the carrier a lot easier. 

8.  Comfort items. Adjusting to a new place is scary for cats, so items like calming spray and purr pads will help them settle in faster. The spray is used to spray on items such as their cat tree or carrier to make them less nervous and feel safer. Purr pads store the cat's warmth when they sit on it, creating a cozy nap spot for your cat. If your cat had a foster parent previously, ask if you can have a toy or something with a familiar scent to bring your cat extra comfort.

9.  Toys. This varies from cat to cat. I would recommend getting a starter pack of toys with a variety of options to see what your cat likes. Make sure to get a couple of catnip toys, too, as they are always a fun time for a cat.

10.  Grooming items. All you really need for this category is a set of nail clippers and gloves that you can brush your cat with. 

11.  Cardboard scratchers. While a cat tree is good to scratch, cats just love these things. You can get them at Walmart for pretty cheap.


Life with a Cat


Once your cat finally comes home with you, there are a couple of things you should expect as well as some extra steps to keep your home a safe and happy place for your cat. 

  • No matter the cat, it will take time to adjust. 

How long it takes for them to adjust to their new home depends on the cat’s personality and what they have been through. With my cat, Sushi, she hid under the bed for days straight and still hangs out under there. Because she was abused when she was a kitten, she likes to hide, and it is important for me to respect that. Respect your cat's time of adjustment and give them space if needed.

  • Your cat will get into something if they want to get into something.

Cats are tricky little suckers. They can jump, climb and paw their way into almost anywhere. Be careful to keep their food stored somewhere they can’t get to. Also, keep toxic items far from their reach. If your cat keeps getting into cabinets or drawers, you might also want to get child locks.

  • Look up if your plants are poisonous. 

If you forgot which plant it is that you have and you think it’s fine if you just leave it, don’t make the same mistake I did, Sis. A ton of plants are poisonous to cats, so most likely the one you have is poisonous. Like I said, cats get into everything. With certain plants, even a lick can cause them major problems.

  • Take them to the vet within the first month and register their chip. 

It is important to get your cat checked out to make sure they are doing alright, as well as establish a relationship with the vet so you feel comfortable with them if there is ever an emergency. Registering the chip is vital because if your cat ever gets lost then they can be returned safely back to you.


Bumps in the Road


Not everything will go as planned. It’s important to remember that this process isn’t going to be perfect but that’s okay. Your cat may hide for a long time or get sick unexpectedly, but it will be okay. Do what you think is best for your cat and everything will be alright. If you have questions, ask a cat lover and I’m sure they’d love to help. 


Although you can’t predict what is going to happen on the journey of adopting your cat, it’s always good to be prepared. Don’t stress out too much—this is a fun and exciting new step in your life when you get to make a new best friend!



GIFs provided by