How to Adopt a Cat

The information in this article was reviewed and approved by registered veterinary nurse, Beth Walker

Animed Veterinary Nurse, Beth Walker

Adopting a cat is incredibly exciting, whether it’ll be your first feline companion, or you’re a life-long cat owner. Adopting rather than buying means that you’ll be offering a cat a new chance at life! You’ll also be supporting a charity to continue helping other animals. Plus, a cat adopted from a charity like Blue Cross, Cats Protection or the RSPCA will be health checked, treated for fleas and worms, vaccinated, neutered if appropriate, and microchipped. This means your new cat will have had many of the essential treatments they need before they come home with you.

But how do you go about adopting a cat? In this blog, we’ll explain the whole process and direct you to trustworthy organisations from which you can adopt a cat safely.

Where to Adopt a Cat

Charities like the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Cats Protection are great places to start if you’re looking to adopt a cat or kitten. It’s also worth checking to see if you have any smaller local charities that work in your area, particularly if there are no branches of the bigger ones near you.

Rescue cats are brought into these shelters for various reasons. They could be strays, abandoned, or their previous owners may no longer be able to care for them. Whatever the reason, these rescue cats will be looked after by the charities until they can find their forever homes.

You can usually browse the cats currently available on the charities’ websites online and register your interest before visiting them in person.

How Can I Adopt a Cat?

The process of adopting a cat is similar wherever you choose to go. It tends to follow these steps:

Find a Cat Online

First, search for a cat currently living in a shelter near you. Blue Cross, Cats Protection and the RSPCA all have their own cat-finding tools on their websites. Not all cats will be listed online, however. There are often waiting lists, especially for litters of kittens.

As well as seeing which cats catch your eye from their pictures, make sure to read their profiles! This way you can find out if they would be a good match for you. For example, you might need an indoor cat, one that can live with children or other pets, or you might prefer a cat that doesn’t hunt.

Fill Out an Application Form

Next, you’ll register your interest in your chosen cat by filling out an application form. You can usually fill these out online on the charity’s website. Otherwise, you can print one off and take it to your local branch.

The shelter will then see if you and your chosen cat are a good match for each other based on your application.

Some of the more popular cats will get many applications. Don’t be too disappointed if you’re not successful the first time. Most centres will keep your form on file in case a cat comes in that is your perfect match!

Visit the Cat in Person

If you’re successful, it’s now time to meet your potential new cat! Usually, you’ll be able to organise a time with the shelter when you can head down and meet the cat face to face.

Be sure to bring the whole family! It’s important that everyone living in the household meets the potential new cat so that things like allergies can be ruled out.

Some charities, like the RSPCA, also carry out a home visit. While there, they can offer you tips and advice on things like food, toys and environment. They’ll ensure you have all the information you need to care for your new cat properly.

Pay Your Adoption Fee

Once it’s confirmed that you’ll be taking your cat home, all that’s left to do is fill out some paperwork and pay your adoption fee! See below for more information on this.

Take Your Cat Home with You

It’s time to settle your cat into their new home! The centre you adopt from should give you a blanket or other item that the cat knows well from their time in the shelter. This will help your cat to feel safe and calm while they travel and settle in to their new home. The adoption centre will also often ensure you go home with the right litter and food to help the transition go as smoothly as possible.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Cat?

Your adoption fee will help to cover some of the cost of your cat’s food, vet checks, vaccinations and neutering that they received while in the rescue centre’s care.

The cost of adopting a cat will vary depending on the age of the cat you adopt and where you adopt it from. Some charities, like Blue Cross, have set adoption fees for cats as follows:

  • Kitten up to 16 weeks old: £175
  • Pair of kittens: £300
  • Cat four months to seven years old: £150
  • Cat eight years old or older: £100

Others, like Cats Protection or the RSPCA, vary their fees depending on the branch or centre you go to. This is because some centres have higher costs than others, such as the veterinary fees being higher in that area.

At the RSPCA Leybourne Animal Centre for example, it costs £80 to adopt a cat, while at the Hillingdon, Slough, Windsor, Kingston & District Branch, it costs £100 for a cat over 6 months old, and £150 for a kitten.

Should I Adopt a Kitten or a Cat?

Most rescue shelters will have plenty of kittens and adult cats for you to choose from. While there will be a higher number of grown-up cats, kittens also arrive at shelters. They may have been abandoned or stray cats sometimes have litters while in the shelter’s care.

To help you decide between adopting a kitten or a cat, here are some things to consider:

  • Cost – It’s usually a bit cheaper to adopt an older cat than a kitten.
  • Energy levels – Kittens tend to be much livelier than adult cats. This is great if you want an energetic kitten who loves to play all the time, but it’s worth noting that kittens can be a lot of work! Adult cats are less demanding.
  • Personality – The centre you adopt from will be able to tell you more about the personality of an older cat than a kitten, as it will already be established. Kittens are more of an unknown as their character will develop as they grow.
  • Age – Although it certainly doesn’t guarantee it, adopting a younger cat may mean you have them for longer. Older cats are also more likely to develop health problems.
  • Family – If you have children, adult cats are often better suited to the household. Kittens have very sharp claws and children might accidentally handle a small kitten too roughly. Adult cats are more tolerant and will also be able to walk away from overly-stimulating interactions more easily.

Wrapping Up

Whether you decide to adopt a cat or a younger kitten, there’s nothing quite like having a feline companion in your home. Once you’ve found a cat that is well-suited to you and your lifestyle and made a successful application, it’s only a matter of time before you get to bring them home! Get ready for plenty of playtime, head scratches and loving meows as you form a bond with your new cat.