Three brown tabby kitten

What to Know Before Adopting a Cat in Austin

Welcome to Austin: the home of timeless art, music, good food, and loveable companions.

If you think it's time to finally bring a furry companion into your life, Austin is one of the best places to do so.

For one, many shelters provide basic healthcare services like neutering, vaccinations, and spaying before adoption.

But what’s more, Austin is full of great state parks and tons of restaurants that welcome your pets to sit out on the deck with you. Some restaurants even give out water and special treats to your pet - even cats. 

Before getting a cat though, you need to consider your lifestyle, financial cost, and whether one cat is really enough.

Kittens in basket
Source: Unsplash

How to Adopt a Cat in Austin

The first thing to do is locate a charity or shelter with an established reputation.

A little online research can lead you to local centers in Austin. Once you make your pick, check their online directories of the cats they have up for adoption.

Note: A shelter is highly likely to arrange a home visit before you officially take a cat home. They do so to ensure the environment is suitable for your new cat.

The cost of adoption will vary depending on the organization or shelter you choose. The adoption fees cover the treatment and care your cat received while living at the center. This includes veterinary costs such as vaccinations and neutering. 

Cat Caretaker Considerations

Before visiting an adoption center, there are many important aspects to consider. At the top of the list is knowing what type of cat you’d like. This mostly revolves around two areas: cat breeds and personality types.

When deciding to adopt a cat, you need to know what breed is the best match for you. Every cat is unique, but there's a lot to learn from a certain breed type about its personality traits.

A shelter will often have various breeds to choose from, including domestic long hair or short hair cats.

Think about what cat personality is best for you:

  • A ball of energy or a lap cat? 
  • A cat that's shy or adventurous?

Researchers in New Zealand and South Australia have identified five distinct personality types in domestic cats with a model often used to describe personality traits in people. 

Understanding your cats personality type can help you give it a better life.

A cat's personality is also linked to its physical health.

For example, a bold cat that tends to fight others is more likely to acquire FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus). A fearful cat could have lower immune function, which could lead to illnesses such as upper respiratory infections.

There’s no denying how adorable kittens are, but they’re quite a handful. Do consider:

  • How big they will get
  • Their energy levels
  • If they play nice with others 

If you don’t have the heart for surprises, perhaps an adult cat is more your pace.

When choosing a new pet, don’t rush the process. You are choosing your new family member after all. This is a big commitment. A healthy cat can live for 10 to 20 years by your side!

With that in mind, find a cat with a personality that's best for her new home. Be sure you make the right choice (for their benefit as much as yours). If you have trouble deciding, speak to adoption counselors to guide you.

White and brown cat lying
Source: Unsplash

Cost Considerations

House cats are known for their low maintenance and aloof attitude, but they’re not cheap. The costs of caring for a cat can really add up, just as with human children.

Besides the adoption fee, there are other essentials every first-time cat owner needs to purchase. You will also want to look into pet insurance and travel expenses for kennel services or pet sitting.

Here’s a simple cat owner checklist of what you'll need:

  • A litter box 
  • Cat toys
  • A food and water bowl
  • Cat trees
  • A scratching post
  • Cat carrier

Also, take note of the recurring costs:

  • Vet bills and visits
  • Cat food

Your cat's age will also affect costs. Little kittens will need several rounds of vaccines, while older cats need more blood work. You can look into non-profits or clinics as cheaper health care options, but a vet might be necessary for some ailments.

A first-time pet owner can choose to microchip their new cat so that it can be found easily if it gets lost.

The microchip has a unique 15 digit code that is logged in a national database. It contains your name, address, and phone number.

Health Considerations

Kitten Veterinarian Feline
Source: Needpix

No kitten should be separated from her mother until it is fully weaned. Usually, this is when they are around 9 weeks of age.

Whether you plan to choose a kitten from a litter or adopt one from a shelter, it’s important to ensure it’s in good health.

Here are general signs to look out for when adopting a cat:

Eyes Should be clear and clean with no discharge as this could be a sign of respiratory problems.
Nose Should be slightly damp, cool, and clear of signs of sneezing or mucus.
Ears Should be pink and clean. A dark brown waxy discharge could be ear mites commonly found in the external ear canal.
Tummy Is her tummy swollen? This could be a sign of poor nutrition or worms. Also, check their behind for any signs of diarrhea.
Coat Should be glossy with no matting signs.

Find a Veterinarian

When you get a kitten from a shelter, take it to a veterinarian right away. It is not uncommon for animals from shelters to have parasites and/or an upper respiratory infection. Don’t let this stop you though, they are treatable ailments.

Animals need routine trips to the vet to catch any problems early on. Ensuring your pets have annual checkups is a great way to maintain proper health. Also consider veterinary acupuncture for pets with chronic disease, pain, and mobility issues. Check out our guide to veterinary care in Austin.

Lifestyle Considerations

What does your schedule look like?

You may need to adjust it before living with a cat for the first time. Your life may appear laid-back to you, but if you’ve got kids in the house, for instance, it could stress out a new cat.

Do you have dogs or many cats in your home? Do they play nice with other cats, or is it always a showdown? If you have other pets or family members, think about how their activity level could affect your new cat.

Did you know that cats are creatures of habit? Cats can become sick if you make changes to their routine. In fact, a study conducted by the Ohio State University that showed how stress affects cats.

The study had a total of 32 cats, in which 20 had FIC (feline interstitial cystitis), a painful inflammatory condition of the bladder and urinary tract, and the remaining 12 cats were healthy.

Researchers found that changing the cats’ daily routine or environment affected all the cats. The healthy cats got sick 1.9 times a week and the others twice a week. When the stress passed, the levels retired to normal.

To keep your cats healthy and happy, stick to a routine and be as consistent as possible. Gradually introduce the cats to new changes if you plan to make any. It could be having a pet sitter or having a house guest. 

Feeding Schedule

All pet owners need a feeding schedule so their pets know there’s a regular feeding time. It may take some time for them to adjust to the routine, but consistency is key.

White cat beside blue ceramic bowl
Source: Unsplash

Ask your veterinarian what cat foods are a no-no from the get-go. Cats may be picky eaters, but they don’t always know what's best for them.

They can walk away from a juicy piece of meat but happily wolf down a can of tuna on a sidewalk. That being said, there are certain foods you should avoid feeding your cats.

Raisins and grapes contain elements that a cat's digestive system cannot handle. Milk and other dairy products are also risky. This is because most cats are lactose intolerant, and having processed dairy foods can lead to diarrhea. 

Why Not Get Two Cats?

If you want to get a kitten for the first time, our advice would be to get two. Getting kittens that are relatively the same age, not necessarily from the same litter, is a good idea. 

White and brown tabby kitten
Source: Unsplash

Humans aren’t really equipped to teach kittens how to use the litter box and play. When we use our hands to play with a kitten, we can inadvertently teach them that it's okay for them to swat and bite.

A cat can develop a single-kitten syndrome that includes clawing and biting problems. Having another kitty can help teach another how to use their claws and teeth properly.

Luckily, shelters tend to keep a litter or pair together, and if they get along well, they’re adopted out together.

Welcoming Your Cat Home

New surroundings can affect our pets as much as they do us. Be patient with your cats, they will probably be stressed and upset from the move.

If your cat doesn’t leave its carrier as soon as you get home, don’t worry. Give them space and let them move at their own pace. Have some food and other essentials on standby as your cat explores. Let Tomlinson's Feed help you prepare the perfect welcome.

We are your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region.

Visit our shop that's full of products sold through team members trained in animal nutrition. Pass by our stores with your adorable pet for some treat samples and loving ear rubs.

Featured Image: Unsplash by The Lucky Neko

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