I recently adopted two cats. Before taking the plunge, there were so many things to consider. These ranged from the very basic to, such as: ‘do we have enough space?’, to the more complex: ‘what about when we go on holiday? do we want a kitten? how much do cats cost on a day-to-day basis?’. Here is what I learnt…
Ask yourself: do I really want a kitten? So, so many people assumed I was going to adopt a kitten. However, given that I work full time, this didn’t strike me as practical. Kittens need so much attention that I think it cruel to adopt a kitten and then leave it to grow up on its own while you are at work. At an absolute maximum, adopting two is recommended (and mandatory for most shelters I looked at), but really think about why you want a kitten. There are so many adult cats out there that need a home.
Do not assume that an adult cat will not be fun. I personally have ended up with cats that canter around the flat, faceplant the fridge when chasing toys, and wrestle so much they tumble off the sofa. Their antics make me cry with laughter (and occasionally cry for the state of my houseplants) and they have really strong personalities. My cats are 1.5 and 3 years old.
Make contact with refuges in your area. To most this is a no-brainer, but check out a cat adoption centre. Most are overrun with cats needing homes, and they are almost always neutered, vaccinated and microchipped already. Buying a cat from a breeder not only encourages more cats to be bred unnecessarily, but also potentially creates animals with serious genetic defects (one google of pedigree animals is enough to put you off for life).
Scaredy-cats can be incredibly rewarding. In the refuge, our cats lived in a pair. One was very forward and affectionate, whereas the other sat trembling in the corner. He looked so tiny, and it was heartbreaking to see the fear in his eyes. In fact, we closed the cage and backed away because we were so worried about scaring him so much. When we got home, I expected him to be super timid, and require a lot of TLC. Fast-forward just over a week, and he is king of the house. The change in him is remarkable, scarcely believable. It is so rewarding to build trust with rescue animals, and see them grow in confidence. That said, this also means that I rarely get to sit on my own sofa anymore (see photo!). The floor is fine :p
My top tip would be to assign one room to your new cat when you take them home for the first time. I live in a tiny flat, so our only spare, quiet room was the bathroom. This worked fine. The idea is to put everything the cat needs into one room, open the door of its carrier, and leave. This gives the cat some time to adjust to the move in a safe, enclosed space, and I have found that the cats still retreat to the bathroom if they are scared. For the first day I shut them in the bathroom together, and visited maybe once an hour or so. The second day, I left the door open a touch and they came out to explore at their leisure. By the third day, the cats were all over the flat, but still able to go into the bathroom when they were worried. Now, they just go in to hide when I turn the hoover on, but I am really happy they have a safe space to themselves. I plan to repeat this whenever I have to move in the future.
Finally, ignore people who don’t love your new addition as much as you do. The first comment I had from a family member was “oh god, bet they’re expensive”. Yes, adding two extra things to feed and look after has raised my living costs. Funny enough, I did check that before burdening myself for the next fifteen years or so… Do not let others spoil your happy time. You will probably spend much more time with your cats than with the haters, so pick your loyalties wisely…