Cat adoption advice

may_flowersAugust 12, 2012

We lost our sweet 14 year old in April and feel ready to adopt a new kitty. Prior cats found us, so I'm looking for your experiences and advice on adopting.

Is it better to adopt a cat from a foster home or from a shelter? Common sense tells me foster where they have been socialized and know the cat better. But my DH has an emotional need of rescuing a cat from a cage, and it does tear at your heartstrings when you see them at the shelter. But this will probably be our last cat, and I want to be sure we get the right one for us.

Ideally we'd like a young adult. Last week we went to a cat-only no-kill shelter that has 200 cats and kittens at the shelter and in foster homes. It was a little overwhelming. Most of the cats were strays who had been turned over from local shelters because they are adoptable. We plan to go back this week.

I'm interested in four cats based on their photos and descriptions on their website, but there are others who don't have photos posted, so the pool could be even bigger. One pretty girl is having a very hard time adjusting to the shelter and needs a quiet home, like ours. At first I thought she might be too shy and scared of everything, but now I'm wondering if we should rescue her based on need. Though we really don't want a wallflower.

What can you tell about a cat just from a short visit at a shelter? The staff tries to make a personality match, but with so much choice, how do we go about finding "The One"?

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kittens

It's easier to determine a cat's personality from a foster home. The foster mom can give you much more feedback than the shelter workers. I think that once they've been caged for any length of time, it's going to take more than a visit to determine what it's real personality is. You have a little better edge on the cat's health if it's coming from a foster home, too. It's still a rescue. It opens space up in the foster mom's house. She's either going to bring in one from the shelter to replace it or get one on its way to a cage. I wouldn't completely rule one out.

If you're going to the shelter, do take advantage of the 'getting-to-know' room and make a few trips to spend time in the room with him/her. Try to find one that's more of a spit-fire from the get-go if you're looking for a little spunk. I don't think you'll be disappointed with anyone you bring home. Even the wallflower is going to play :) but if you have a preference to a particular personality then try to be patient, she will come.

You might even end up finding a pair that will bond :) I really enjoy watching my two interact with each other and race around the house together.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 6:31PM
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may_flowers

Thank you, kittens. That was my thought about a foster home too, that it opens up space for another cat. Maybe the shy one will be fostered if she doesn't go home with us. :) We didn't have them take her out of the cage because of her fearfulness. We didn't want to upset her when we weren't ready to make a decision. We talked to her though and she didn't act afraid, just not real interested. Here's her photo.

I'm not sure how much spunk we can handle! We're in our 50s and 60s and this will be our first indoor cat. We can't adopt two, so maybe we should go with a low-key cat.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 7:20PM
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may_flowers

But then there's this little guy with his perfect Tuxedo markings. We both feel drawn to him for some reason, but we haven't met yet. His bio says he LOVES to be held and petted, and we do lavish our kitties with attention.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 7:25PM
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kittens

You know there's just no way to say what wallflower will be like at home. Her aloofness may be entirely situational. She might have been ready for a snooze when you got there, too! She is adorable. They both are!

What you mentioned in your first post was "and I want to be sure we get the right one for us" so I would try to hold true to that. I think that you need thick, thick skin to pick out a shelter cat. When you start reading their stories it's so hard to not select one just because you feel so sorry for it. I've read a lot of posts and the initial one people feel the most sorry for goes home with them :) I don't think there is a wrong choice. They are all equally in need. I would just take my time because your probably going to have kitty for another 15 years. Try some out in the holding pen and do take wallflower out on your next trip just to test the waters.

It sounds like the fosters are working with the shelter. There might be a chance if you find a foster kitty that the mom could take wallflower in your kitties place. Then you've done double-good! It doesn't sound like she's thriving and it doesn't hurt to ask. She looks very adoptable so she's got that in her favor; she's got beautiful colors. But, it sure sounds like she needs to be in a different environment to really determine her true personality.

It's so much easier when they just show up at your door - lol!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 8:47PM
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lily316

These are both beautiful cats. My cats are all rescues and some found me. Since this is a no kill shelter, your shy girl will eventually find a home. I think you need to pick the right fit for you. Shelters have rooms where you can interact but don't expect the cat to wrap his/her paws around you. I found both my daughter's cats for her..one was an ad with allergies, and I told her about it. She called and two hours later she had Sam who is getting quite old now. Then I told her about a big male who was found wandering the streets. His foster mom took him to the rescue group and said what a sweetie he was. We went to see him and he was indifferent. She almost didn't take him but is sure glad she did. He's about 10 now and the prettiest sweetest cat ever. She adore them both. Good luck. I love the Tuxedo guy.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 2:56AM
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may_flowers

Thank you both for your advice. It's much of what I've been thinking. My DH said he'd much rather work with a withdrawn kitty than one who is too aggressive. He thought he made a connection with one who was very spunky, but I felt he needed a more active home. He was at Petsmart, where the rescue shelter places a few cats, so he had them take him out of his cage. He played a little too rough for DH. I was glad to take him out of the running because I didn't feel any connection.

I'm anxious to get out there and see them again, but we won't be able to go till tomorrow at the earliest.

I had to show you this adorable kitten that's at the other foster home organization. It's the spitting image of the other tuxedo.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:31AM
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cat_mom

Shy cats/kittens can often "turn-around" and become quite the love-bugs. Not always, of course, but often enough that it can be worth taking the chance if something about the cat "speaks" to you.

Our Shizu was a shy kitten when we got her, and it was far from the ideal time for us to deal with a shy kitten. Something about her spoke to my heart, though, and I knew I would be missing out on a special cat if we didn't give her a chance. Well, today at age 9 (this month) she is the biggest mommy's girl (and daddy's girl, too!). She can be the biggest mush, and quite vocal if she feels she's not getting enough attention!

I have also seen enough cats at the shelter (I volunteer one afternoon a week) go from aloof, to attention seeking. Not all are, or become lap cats, but they start to seek out attention and pets, and some roll over, purring, for belly rubs. Also, some cats are quite frightened in a shelter, or even rescue situation, an don't exhibit their wonderful personalities, attributes, qualities, etc. while there.

The little girl in the picture you posted is a beauty, and she's definitely worth a second look, IMO. She might just be scared.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:46AM
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may_flowers

She is a beauty. When we were at the shelter, she stood out from the others. There's so many black cats and kittens there. We've had black cats and want something different than what we've had before.

As of this morning, DH wants to give her a chance. I don't know how she'll respond to our introduction. If she purrs, I'll take that as a good sign. I don't think she'll find a more peaceful home than ours. The most she'll have to deal with is the occasional vacuum, and if that bothers her, I guess we'll just have to get all hardwood floors. Oh, darn.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 11:11AM
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lily316

She is very pretty. Was she someone's pet? If you have a quiet house like I do and don't want a rambunctious kitten , I say go for her.

My present four are a perfect fit. No problems and each has their own personality. But I did pick a rescue one year ago strictly because she looked like my deceased cat. This little torti was weird from day one and never bonded very well as all my other do.

Now if I was picking one, color and sex or age wouldn't factor in, personality would.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 12:03PM
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kittens

The next hard step is to have to pick a name - lol!!!

She is beautiful. Our Maine Coon has a very similar face in the snout area but she's got way better coloring.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 1:12PM
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cat_mom

Let us know if you get her! :-)

Our Shizu is all black, but our other cat (our "bundle of personality" as we like to call her, LOL) is a brown tabby. I have always been a sucker for tabbies (those faces with the "eyeliner" around their eyes...I'm a goner!), but lately I've been captivated by a lot of the black kittens and cats at the shelter.

I am sure this little miss will warm up to you--you and your DH seem to have big, and caring hearts. Best of luck!!!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 1:13PM
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may_flowers

I don't know anything about her, lily, except that she's quite nervous. We are going to try to make it out tomorrow to see her again and hopefully they'll have more to tell us. She should definitely be in a foster home, poor thing.

In the meantime, we are having a fostered cat come out to meet us today. She's a year old, very gentle and affectionate. She showed up on someone's doorstep with three kittens. So we'll see how that goes. We may adopt her, or we may go see the wallflower again before deciding.

I think I've had more tabbies than any other cat. Toby, our last kitty, was pure white.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 2:02PM
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laurief_gw

It's been many years since I adopted a cat intentionally. The way folks keep dumping cats on my road, I can't imagine ever "formally" adopting one again. They just keep showing up on my farm and moving in.

That said, I think the whole idea of adopting a cat is backwards. In my experience, it's always been the cat who's done the choosing - not me. I may be attracted by a pretty face or gorgeous coat, but it's the soul that reaches out and grabs mine that becomes part of my family.

My suggestion? Let the cat choose you. Stay open to the connection when you visit each cage. Ignore such superficial attributes as color, size, age, and gender. Just wait for one of them to grab your heart and not let go. The feline always knows best.

Laurie

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 4:02PM
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may_flowers

The visit went well with the foster kitty, so she's now ours! She showed up in someone's backyard with three kittens last spring, and she had been in her current foster home three months. She's a year younger than the others we were interested in, and she was playful, curious, and interacted well, so there was no real reason not to take her.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 8:12PM
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kittens

My, my what a face! Was that photo of her taken in your house? She looks so happy. Actually - she looks like she might have a little devil in her with her ears perked up like that! Congratulations!!!

I'm sure the foster mom was thrilled - the kittens go but the mamma cats are harder to place. It's finding nice homes like yours which makes it all worth it for them.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 8:52PM
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may_flowers

Yes, it was taken this afternoon. She seems to adjust to new situations well. She wants to know where we are--surprise approaches spook her. She doesn't yet know it's only us two humans in the house.

She has a little orange patch under one eye, and when she closed her eyes for a catnap, it looked like one eye was still open, especially without my glasses on. I had a good chuckle.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:20PM
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cat_mom

Congrats!!!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:59PM
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lily316

Well, she is just adorable. Congratulations. She looks like a winner. What's her name?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:13AM
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may_flowers

I read once that cats respond to the long E sound at the end of their name, so we've been working with that. We thought of Penny because she has the copper spots, and someone suggested Misty because of her silvery color. I'd like a "pretty" name and something not too common. This could take awhile!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 8:51AM
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lily316

Almost every dog and cat I've had over the years...(15 cats, 4 dogs) have had names ending in long E. I like people names. Current cats are Nellie, Annie, Phoebe and Henry.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:50AM
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laurief_gw

This may sound a little odd to you, but when a new cat shows up on my farm, I give the cat as much time as (s)he needs to relax and feel comfortable in my home and to start to trust me. Then I sit in a quiet room with the cat and ask her/his name. I find that if I clear my mind and concentrate on letting the cat tell me her/his name, eventually it'll happen. Sometimes the name just pops into my head. Weasel, for instance, nearly screamed his name at me - it came into my mind so strongly and definitively. Somer and Footsie took a different tact. They showed me their names - Somer by somersaulting in front of me ... twice, and Footsie by repeatedly attacking my feet until I acknowledged his name.

Laurie

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:50AM
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Cassandra

I like people names, too: I think they are fun! My cats have been Paul, Elaine, Sally, and Basil. In the future I would like a cat named Bob or Bud.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Cassandra

May flowers, that's a beautiful kitty! Congratulations! As to cats liking long "e" sounds, I have to agree: the exaggerated "e" sounds in "treat" and "eat" are music to my cats' ears and appear to be the only words they respond to!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:35PM
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lily316

My grandson has a bearded dragon named Bob. In retrospect I love every name I have ever given a pet except Pumpkin. I got him on Halloween, and it was not a fun name to call. Think how many times in their lifetime you call them. ..I've had a Minnie, lily, Maddie, Louie, Emma,Casey, Ollie( grey parrot), Ruby....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 3:40PM
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may_flowers

Toby knew "Snacks!" which meant wet food. It was our go-to word when we couldn't find him. Of course, you have to pay up when they respond or it loses its effectiveness.

I had two Timmys as a kid and a Toby. Then Pele, the soccer star. When I met my DH, he had Toby and Pookie. Previously he had Ricky and Yuki, a Siamese.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 4:19PM
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SunnyDJ

Oh My, your new furbaby is gorgeous....You can just see all the love by just looking in her eyes.....

My babies are all with the e sound, Kaylee, Kelly and Baylee and all were born feral...Kaylee and Kelly were trapped along with their mother..The momma was very feral and was released after spaying but I kept the 2 girls and practically lived with them for months getting them tamed...Little Baylee, aka Baby Girl, came to the door and stayed...She was only about 6 weeks old and I honestly thought she was someone's lost kitten but after putting up signs and asking, we decided she had been dumped and thank goodness she was dumped on my doorstep...
Good luck with your new furbaby.......

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 5:23PM
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gibby2015

She's very pretty - congratulations on your new baby. For what it's worth to anyone else, the two times I actually had to go get a cat I picked them out from shelters. If you can spend some time with them in a private space at the shelter (which I could) you can tell what their personality is like - at least I can. The last cat I got from a shelter I didn't even have to test him out. I'd picked him online through PetFinders - I was looking for a Siamese. When I got to the shelter they pulled him out and handed him to me and he just snuggled and nuzzled up against my neck and I was SOLD! He has been one of our greatest cats ever (though I always say that about every new one).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:19PM
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