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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Adopting a Cat from an Animal Shelter

When choosing a cat to adopt from an animal shelter, there are several things that must be considered. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that adopting a cat means the furry friend will most likely be around for a long while. In fact, a cat can easily live up to 20 years. Therefore, owning a cat isn't just a small commitment in time. Once the decision is made to adopt a cat, there are four main things to look for to ensure the pet will be healthy and a good match for the family and its lifestyle.

Activity

When visiting a cat shelter to choose a new feline friend, the first thing to do is to simply observe all of the cats and kittens. While observing them, just to get an idea of how active they are and what type of attitude they have. If the cat is hunched in a corner or appears lethargic, it might not be too healthy. The last thing a new pet owner needs is to adopt a sick cat that will rack up the vet's bills. Similarly, a pet owner looking to add a new cat along with the pets he or she already has doesn't want to bring home a sick cat that will spread illness to the other cats.
Observing the cat while it is in its cage is helpful in determining the attitude of the cat. Some pet owners are looking for playful cats that will scamper about the house and chase and play with toys. On the other hand, some pet owners would like a cat that is a little more docile and that will spend hours cuddled up in the owner's lap. Watching the cats in their cages will help determine which type of personality they have. Of course, a cat that is sleeping doesn't provide much information about its personality, because all cats sleep the majority of their day away. For sleeping cats, it will be necessary to rouse them to get an idea of their unique personalities.

Look At The Cat

After the selection of potential adoptees has been narrowed down, the remaining cats should be looked at more closely. To do this, the attendant should be asked to release the cats fro the cage, one at a time.

A good place to begin the physical examination is to look at the cat's eyes. It is a good sign if the eyes are bright and clear. There also should be no discharge or running eyes, as both are signs of illness.

After inspecting the eyes, the nose should be looked at next. It should be clean and slightly moist. Again, there should be no discharge. The ears should also be clean. Ears that are extremely dirty are potentially contaminated with ear mites. Ear mites can be very difficult to get rid of and can easily spread to other cats at home.

Finally, the cat's fur should be clean, shiny, and free of fleas. Fleas can be particularly bothersome to both the cat and to the owner. Furthermore, getting rid of fleas once they infest the home can be very difficult.

Listen To The Cat

Of those cats remaining, the next step is to listen to the cat. First, listen for signs of illness. A cat that coughs, sneezes, or sounds congested can be quite ill and should be avoided. Also, listen for sounds of contentment. A cat who is purring is likely happy and healthy. If the cat is meowing, the sound of the meow can often indicate trouble or contentment. A long, pleading meow could indicate the cat is ill. On the other hand, a playful meow could mean the cat is already developing a bond with its potential new owner!

After handling each cat, it is important to wash up with an antiseptic. That way, any illnesses one cat might have will not be spread to the other cats.

Play With The Cat

After finding a couple healthy cats that appear to have the appropriate personality, it's time to play! Get the last couple of cats out of their cages and set them on the floor. See how they interact with one another to get a feeling for the cat's disposition. Seeing how the cat gets along with other cats is especially important for pet owners who already have a pet cat at home.

Also, take out a string or car keys and dangle them in front of the cat. The one that seems most alert and active is likely the better choice. Of course, both cats can be adopted if the decision is just too hard to make!
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