15 Things You Should Know Before Adopting A Cat

Considering adopting a cat? This journey promises warmth, purring, and countless joyful moments.

Cats offer a unique blend of independence and affection, often becoming the quiet companions we seek after a long day.

They provide comfort without the need for daily walks and often curl up cozily on laps. However, remember that cats come in a vast array of personalities and quirks.

woman kisses a cat in the garden

Some embody the essence of cuddliness, while others express their love from afar. The beauty lies in the diversity - no two cats are identical.

Like any lifelong commitment, you must stay well-informed and prepared.

We've compiled a list of essential insights to help you and your new companion begin on the right paw.

15 Must-Knows Before Adopting A Cat

Here are fifteen things that could actually happen. In fact, some of them are likely to happen.

You must be prepared to deal with them because once you adopt, your new cat relies on you - and only you - to provide him or her with a loving home - forever.

1. Your Cat May Not Be A Lap Cat Or Even Particularly Affectionate

Not all cats like to be handled, picked up, or even petted.

a man petting a tabby cat on his lap

Sometimes it's a question of trust, and as your new cat learns to trust you, she or he will eventually enjoy lap time and extended physical interactions.

Just keep in mind that with some cats, this may never happen. They will be more content to enjoy your adoration from a distance.

That doesn't mean the bond between you will necessarily be weaker - it will be shown differently. And cats have many ways to show that they love you.

2. Expect Some Bites And Scratches

While some cats are more aggressive than others, almost every cat will bite and/or scratch under certain circumstances. Don't panic if and when that happens.

White cat bites on finger

Learn how to deal with feline aggression and above all: Never punish your cat or reprimand her for scratching or biting, or for anything else for that matter.

3. Your Furniture May Be At Risk

Unless you provide the right kind of scratching post in the right location, your cat will likely scratch your furniture.

Also, cats - especially young ones - can also tear up your curtains and window screens or chew on cords and other items.

Kitten scratching orange fabric sofa

Most cats won't; fortunately, if your cat does, there are ways to deal with that. Just be aware that a certain amount of damage to your home is a very real possibility.

The right scratching post in the right location can help protect your furniture.

Click here to see this scratching post on Amazon.

4. There Will Be Cat Hair All Over The Place

Unless you regularly clean it up of course.

Cat hair on the couch

Cat owners often invest in a good vacuum cleaner, and some just learn to accept the presence of some amount of cat hair in their homes all the time.

Click here to see this vacuum cleaner on Amazon.

Regular brushing of your cat's coat can also help reduce the amount of shedding. Oh, and while we're at it, you may want to avoid wearing dark clothes if you own a cat.

Click here to see this cat brush on Amazon.

Or at least be prepared to "de-hair" them before going out.


5. Going Anywhere? Your Cat Comes First

If you love traveling, know in advance that you'll have to find a boarding solution for your cat or arrange for a responsible cat sitter.

Moving to another country may be very difficult with a pet - not necessarily impossible, but definitely more complicated.

girl holding a pet cat and looking around the new place she move out

Even if you're moving within the same country, any apartment you'll be moving into will have to accept you and your cat. Consider these things before committing to adopt.

6. Litterbox Accidents Could Be An Issue

The good news is that in most cases, you can retrain your cat to use the litterbox again, once you figure out what the problem is and fix it.

We're here to help with the Litterbox Problems Guide and various articles about proper litterbox setup.

red kitten plays with sand in the cat litter box

Still, that's something you should consider before adopting a cat. Also, even without any avoidance issues, be prepared to keep two litterboxes.

Click here to see this litterbox on Amazon.

That includes a strict daily regime of sifting through the litter at least once daily to keep the box clean! If you get lazy, you'll end up with a litterbox avoidance problem, so be warned!

7. Your Cat May Be Very Vocal And Needy

Everyone knows that dogs can bark very loudly to the point of upsetting the neighbors. Cats can do the same. Not bark, of course, but howl, yowl, and generally be very vocal.

Spaying/neutering usually takes care of that problem.

spaying/neutering session on cat

Just keep in mind that some cats are naturally "talkative" and may meow often, day or night. It may not bother the neighbors, but it can certainly bother you.

8. The New Cat Will Not Be Like The Last Cat You Had

If you have owned a cat before and you think you know exactly what you're getting into, you may be in for a surprise. Your new cat will likely be different.

cat ignores its owner

He or she may be nothing like the cat of your childhood, or your best feline friend in recent years.

Each cat has his/her own unique character and quirks, and you'll have to acquaint yourself with a new feline friend - for better or worse.

9. Adjusting To A New Home Takes Time

Don't expect your new cat to show his or her true colors immediately.

The new cat is likely to be somewhat fearful and shy at first, and eventually become an outgoing, friendly kitty.

Scared kitten hiding

During the first few days, weeks and even months, there is a gradual process where your cat will get to know your home and you.

10. Find A Good Vet - Kitty Will Need One

Your new cat may be perfectly healthy now, but something will come up sooner or later.

Like us, cats can come down with all kinds of diseases and injuries, and when that happens, you'll have to spend some time and money caring for your four-pawed friend.

professional veterinarian holding the cat while the pet owner is cuddling it

Routine checkups, vaccinations, quality nutrition, and of course, spaying/neutering all help prevent disease, so be prepared to invest even when your cat is still healthy.

Keep an emergency fund for unexpected medical issues - they will happen.

11. Your Cat May Develop Unique Dietary Needs

Feeding cats doesn't have to be complicated for most cats.

Owner feeding cat at home

Some cats suffer from food allergies or other medical conditions which require special food. This could get costly, but this is part of what adopting a cat is all about.

Click here to see this cat food on Amazon.

12. Care For Chronic Health Conditions May Be Needed

Some cats become diabetic and need owners to inject them with insulin regularly. Others develop kidney disease requiring frequent subcutaneous fluid treatments.

tabby kitten measures temperature by thermometer

Many scenarios may require you to give your cat special care for medical problems he or she may have, and you need to be committed to doing just that.

13. Your Cat Will Grow Old

Most cats age gracefully. However, as the years pass, you'll have to pay extra attention to your cat's well-being and her/his changing needs.

cat walks limping in a veterinary collar

For example, arthritis could mean Kitty can no longer jump, and you may have to create pet stairs for her/him.

Deterioration in eyesight, hearing, or cognitive abilities may all require your attention.

14. You'll Have To Say Goodbye

Cats usually live for 15-20 years.

Remains and photographs of a deceased domestic cat.

People live longer. That's just a fact of life that means owners usually outlive their pets. How we deal with loss is individual, but just know that it will come and will be painful.

15. There's more...

There's always more. Responsible cat owners commit to their pets through thick and thin.

You can't foresee every scenario, but as the "responsible adult" in this relationship, you must solve any problems that arise.

man hand caressing and stroking cat

Fortunately, we're here to help with advice but you are the one who will ultimately be obligated to find a solution that works for your cat and you.

"So, Are You Saying I Shouldn't Adopt A Cat?"

We don't mean to discourage you from adopting a cat. Here at TheCatSite.com we believe cats do make wonderful pets and companions!

It's just important to have realistic expectations and understand the kind of commitment you're making.

When you adopt, you must fully commit to your cat's well-being and never claim, "I didn't sign up for this.

Take the time to read as much as you can about cats and how to care for them. You can start with the articles on this very website.


Our Cat Behavior Articles offer a wealth of information about everything you need to know before adopting a cat.

Still have questions? Check out the forums and leave a question so that more experienced cat owners will be able to help you.

Don't forget to share this information with your friends by pinning the image below on your Pinterest.

15 things you should know before adopting a cat

Continue reading the articles below to further your knowledge and prepare yourself for adopting a cat.

Top 9 Cat Behavior Problems [And How To Deal With Them]

How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home

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3 comments on “15 Things You Should Know Before Adopting A Cat

Alice Carroll October 12, 2020
It's good to know that I can count on cat lodging services when I have to leave my cat for a while. One of the things that makes me wonder if I should adopt a cat is my tendency to visit my parents once in a while when I'm feeling homesick. If I find a good cat lodging place in my city, maybe it will work out.
tarasgirl06 December 15, 2016
Excellent and educational article.  People do need to realize that along with the incomparable joy that unconditional loyalty and love bring to all who love cats, there is also personal responsibility, just like there is with human family members young and old.  Nothing of value is truly free in this life.  That's why those cliches "in sickness and in health" and "until death do you part" are in the marriage vows *not that many take THOSE seriously, I know* as they should be in any relationship.
maureen brad December 5, 2016
I like this article. I do hope people think hard before adopting any pet. I have had many cats in my life I can attest that each was an individual. My Desmond was not much of a lap cat and if I pet him to long he would bite me. It was funny that he would sleep next to me, the minute I opened my eyes he would leave. Sometimes he would sit right next to me and put a paw on my lap. I had to be careful not to acknowledge his presence or he would leave.I knew he loved me though, he followed me around and loved to talk to me.My husband said that when  I was out Des would sit in his cat tree by the window and when he saw me drive up he would squel and spin around in circles. He was always at the front door waiting for me.Des is gone and I brought home a new little guy, I know he is not going to replace Desmond, and will have his own personality. Good article for first time cat parents

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