Red Flags When Adopting a Cat: What to Look for and What to Do
The Many Personalities of Cats
It doesn’t take a cat lady to realize that cats come with many personalities. Some are friendly and love humans, others are shy and keep to themselves, and there are some that will hiss at anyone they see. Dogs aren’t the only pets that have their own personalities; cats have them in spades!
If you’re planning to adopt a cat, you should learn as much as you can about its personality beforehand. Some people want playful cats, while others may like low-maintenance cats that don’t require much attention. What most don’t want are aggressive or destructive cats.
Look for the red flags!
When it comes to cats, first impressions are important. Just like with dogs, you should choose your feline friend carefully, as each cat has a different past.
First, speak with someone at a reliable shelter about every cat, and learn their pasts. Some cats come from nice households, while others grew up mistreated. While the latter definitely deserve second chances, they may exhibit undesirable behaviors.
Besides asking about each cat’s general behavior, ask about:
- The cat’s vaccination history — Is Fluffy up-to-date on all her vaccines?
- House-training — Is the cat house-trained, or will you have to teach it how to use a litter box?
- Past health — Has the cat had a history of illness?
- Reproductive health — Has the cat been spayed or neutered?
After gathering some information, approach the cat you want to adopt. Does it come to you? Does it hide? Does it hiss? The cat may be stressed, so don’t dismiss it as an option just because it hides or hisses. Ask a vet whether this cat’s behavior is common or if there’s something unusual about it.
Does the cat scratch a lot? Scratching is a behavior you’ll have to teach your feline to control, so if you’re not up to the challenge, don’t adopt a cat that’s prone to scratching. And while it may be tempting to consider declawing, think twice: Declawing a cat is like ripping the fingernails off a human.
Another red flag to watch out for comes when you pet the cat. Some cats like being petted, but others may be stressed out by it. If the cat seems aloof to your rubs, and you want a cat that you can pet, look elsewhere.
Red flags don’t mean you can’t adopt.
Just because a cat has a behavioral issue (or issues) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adopt it. The truth is, finding a perfectly behaved cat is as difficult as finding a perfectly behaved human! Fluffy may have a hard time using the litter box, may scratch things she isn’t supposed to, and may be a little scared of your house at first, but you can still train her. However, if a cat exhibits a lot of issues in the shelter, it may be worth considering whether you can give it the attention and training it deserves.
If you’re ready to adopt, head to your local shelter, and see what cats they have for you!