Getting a cat? Pick the purr-fect one for you and your lifestyle with our guide

People and animals

Cats make wonderful pets. They can be less demanding than dogs and can easily adjust to a variety of lifestyles and living spaces. Every cat is a true individual, so it’s important to take the time to choose the feline friend that’s right for you. A cat’s personality and age, as well as the kinds of pets you already have at home, are all things to keep in mind when making your selection.

Choose a Personality
As you walk past a few cat cages at the shelter, you’ll notice that some cats meow for special attention, while others simply lie back and gaze at you with a bit of apprehension. There are as many different personalities of cats as there are cats in the shelter. You need to consider which personality might be best for you and your lifestyle.

Kitten or Cat?
Kittens are curious, playful and full of energy; adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous. Kittens need more time to train and feed, and keep in mind, that cats are only kittens for a few months. Young children usually don’t have the maturity to handle kittens properly, so a cat that’s at least 4 months old is probably the best choice for homes with children ages 6 years or younger.

Short or Long Hair?
Cats can have long, fluffy coats or short, dense fur, and the choice between the two is primarily a matter of preference and the amount of time that you can devote to grooming your cat.

  • You’ll see more short-haired cats at the shelter because they’re the most popular and common cats.
  • The main thing to keep in mind is that long-haired cats require frequent grooming to remain mat-free. Cats with short coats also benefit from brushing, though they do not need it as frequently.
  • Most cats enjoy a regular brushing and will look forward to this as part of a daily routine with you.

Room for One More—Introducing New Pets to your Household
If you already own a cat or dog, you’re probably wondering if it’s easy to add a new cat to the family. The good news is that cats can get along with other cats and—despite the common stereotype—most dogs can get along with cats too. The key to introducing a new cat to a home with other pets is patience—yours, not the cat’s.

The best way to add a new cat to your home is to understand that there’s a period of adjustment for all involved. You can ease the transition by isolating your new cat in a room of his own for a while—a good idea for any new cat.

After several days, bring your pets together for brief periods of time and supervise their interactions. As your pets become more familiar with each other, increase the length of these visits. Most cats will soon learn to accept each other, and some become the best of friends. Most dogs will also adjust to a new cat, and by carefully introducing them, most problems can be successfully managed.

Safety for a Lifetime
Regardless of the cat you select, you’ll want to keep your cat indoors. If you don’t let your new cat go outside from Day 1, he’ll never miss it, and will have a much better chance of staying safe and healthy for many years.

Spay/Neuter for a Better Life
It’s also important to have your cat spayed/neutered. Spaying or neutering will ensure that your cat doesn’t add to the millions of cats born each year that will never find a home. Spaying or neutering your pet can also mean a longer, healthier life.

Adopt a Cat for Life
Finally, remember that you’re making a commitment to love and care for your new pet for a lifetime, which could mean 10, 15, even 20 years. So choose your new best friend carefully and be a responsible pet owner. In no time at all, you’ll know how wonderful sharing your home with a cat can be.

Since 1944, North Shore Animal League America has been saving the lives of innocent dogs, cats, puppies and kittens—more than 1,000,000 to date. We have an unwavering commitment to rescue, nurture and adopt animals and are proud to be the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization; a leader in the no-kill movement, rescuing and rehabilitating animals instead of euthanizing them; a trusted source for information, education and resources that increase adoptions and enhance the lives of adopters and their pets, among others.

To learn more about pet adoptions, visit www.AnimalLeague.org

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