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If you are thinking of adding a feline to your family, consider adopting a cat from your local animal shelter or humane society. The animals have been carefully screened for adoptability and have usually been worked with to enhance sociability.
Unfortunately, many people think that only "bad" animals wind up in shelters. Actually, the opposite is true. People relinquish their pets to shelters when they are no longer able to care for them. Sometimes this is because the owner was unprepared for the responsibility that comes with caring for a pet.
If there is no indication of 'reason for surrender' on the cage at the shelter ask - a cat that has been given up because of bad behavior may not be the best choice - no matter how cute she is.
Often, however, caring owners struggling with life-changes or trying to cope with family tragedy realize their pet would be better off with someone else. They bring them to the shelter because they know the animal will be well-cared for and placed in an excellent home.
Shelter staff carefully evaluates each animal for physical and behavioral soundness. They make note of quirks, and work with specialists to eliminate negative behaviors. Most shelters have adoption counselors who interview potential adopters to understand their needs and lifestyle so they can make the perfect match.
Your first contact with a shelter cat will probably be when she is in her cage. Don't be put off if she ignores you completely. Keep in mind that many new people pass by her cage each day, and she has to cope with all the noise and stress that accompanies that. A shelter worker can arrange for you to meet the cat in a quiet room. Again, she may not pay much attention to you, but watch how she acts towards the staff person. This is who she is more comfortable with. While you observe the cat, talk with the staff member and learn all you can about the cat's likes and dislikes.
Take a cat carrier with you to the shelter - much easier than having your new cat running around the car as you take her home.
Bringing your newly adopted cat home is exciting for you, and a little overwhelming for her. Have things prepared before you pick her up from the shelter. This includes having small area for her to call her own. A bathroom or extra bedroom works well. Furnish it with a bed, food and water bowls, scratching post, toys and a litter box. Spend some time with her in the room with the door closed. She may totally ignore you while she explores her new surroundings. Keep her confined to this room until she seems relaxed in your presence. Then you can allow her to roam the rest of your home.
Some cats take longer than others to adjust to new situations. Your cat has gone from a home to a noisy shelter to another new home. Change is stressful for cats. You can help her adjust more quickly by establishing set routines. Begin feeding, grooming and playing with her at the same times each day, and she'll feel at home much sooner.
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