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How to Adopt A Shelter Cat 101

How to Adopt A Shelter Cat 101
by Brett O'Farrell

Read time: 7 min

Adopting a cat can be exciting and full of joy, but understanding the fundamentals to their care is essential. Whether your feline family is feeling small and you want to add more heart to your home, or you're thinking of adopting a cat for the first time. We’ve teamed up with The Cat Welfare Group to give you everything you need to know about adopting a cat.

Pet rescues and shelters are filled with animals waiting to be adopted and re-homed. However, giving a new forever home to a rescued pet is a big decision. It’s so important that you make sure you are able to give them a loving home and the best care possible. Pet adoption is lots of fun, but it does take time to plan and research. Which is why reading our handy checklist for how to adopt a cat, can ensure you have thought everything through.

What are the benefits of adopting an animal?

The beauty of adopting a cat from a shelter, rather than going to a breeder, is you can work together with them to find a cat that will fit perfectly into your home. We’re the first to admit that kittens are lovely, but rather than having all that intense energy, a placid golden oldie might suit your family better. Cats who come from adoption centres will be assessed from head to tail, to understand their:

  • Temperaments

  • Likes and dislikes

These assessments allow shelters to make sure they go to a home that suits them perfectly. Once you realise who it is you’re looking for, with a little bit of getting to know each other, you’ll likely end up with a dear companion who would deeply appreciate you.

Pet owners often say that one of the biggest benefits of adopting a cat is not just saving another creature’s life, but also enriching yours. There are numerous studies which show that having a pet has plenty of health benefits, both physically, and mentally. Some people with mental health problems like anxiety disorders or PTSD can benefit from having a pet. With this in mind, consider adopting a shelter cat first before looking at private breeders.

What should I consider before adopting a shelter cat?

A key thing to consider before adopting a shelter cat is: why do I want a pet?

Is it a gift for a friend or family? Is it to give a cat a good home and give you some companionship? Is it because you can’t say no to their soft ears? While your heart may be in the right place when you decide to adopt a shelter cat, you do need to set realistic expectations and have the right reasons for your adoption.

You may ask yourself, what are the right reasons? While we know you have good intentions, we can advise on the two points above. While it’s always a memorable surprise to gift a cat or kitten to friends or family, you must take into consideration how ready the person on the receiving end is to take care of a cat physically, emotionally, and financially.

If your motivation comes from companionship for yourself, there’s nothing nicer than a cat purring away in your lap. It’s still important to remember that the shelter cat you adopt might not provide you with the warmth of friendship you’re looking for.


While we all wish there were endless hours in the day (that way you can spend more time with a cat curled up on your lap), it’s important to understand that when adopting a cat there’s a time commitment. Even something as small as a goldfish takes up some of your time between feeding it, and then watching it peacefully swim for hours.

You’ll need to be prepared for the fact that the time it takes to properly care for your adopted cat needs to be taken into consideration. This includes:

  • Grooming,

  • Playing,

  • Feeding them fresh cat food

  • Vet appointments

  • And, of course, getting down on all fours to meow at him until he meows back.


Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but it can buy a really premium scratching post, which in your cats eyes may be the same thing. When going down the route of adopting a cat, you’ll need to check your finances to make sure you’re definitely in the market to welcome someone new into your home.

The typical annual cost of a cat is about £1,000, and they live for around 18 years. Have a think about if this is in your budget, and what changes you’re willing to make if your financial situation alters for the worse.

Adoption Research

Are you the type of person to read reviews, scour over articles, and do all the research you can before committing to getting something new, or are you a little more spontaneous? When it comes to adopting a cat, the former is always the way forward. We know a tiny kitten face is hard to say ‘no’ to, but it’s so important to understand how adopting a cat will change your life and theirs.

It’s particularly important to look into the cat breed you’re adopting. Certain cat breeds are prone to disease or health problems, and there’s no guarantee that the cat you’ve set your heart on adopting will stay perfect. With reading and research, you can see what you might need to do if problems come up in the future, and have an understanding of if you’re prepared to deal with them.

The Adoption Process

If you’ve read all of the above and you feel like you’re ready to adopt a shelter cat, here’s everything you’ll need to prepare and do to introduce your new friend to their forever home.

Depending on the rescues or cat shelters you go with, everywhere will have a slightly different process when it comes to adopting a cat. However, below we have explored the most common steps to adopting a cat within the UK (and one that we use ourselves at The Cat Welfare Group) …

Step 1: Search for animals available for adoption by looking at local shelters

We recommend searching around on Facebook and Google for local shelters and rescues who have cats available to adopt. If you can, maybe look to support the smaller charities.

Step 2: Filling out the cat adoption questionnaire

Some people think that filling out the cat adoption questionnaire is too time consuming and too intrusive, especially if they’re not yet sure if they would be able to find a cat they want to take home. It is true that the adoption form may contain questions which you may not be too comfortable answering, especially if you have not seen a cat you are interested in yet. However, from our point of view, it is vital for us as a rescue to know who exactly our cats will be spending the rest of their lives with.

Sadly, many shelter cats in the care of shelters have come from very difficult backgrounds, these questionnaires are designed to ensure that shelters are confident their cats will be going to their forever homes.

The questionnaire can range from rescue to rescue, but in most cases, when adopting a shelter cat, you will be asked for some details, such as:

  • Your name

  • Living situation

  • Age

  • Address

  • Number of children

  • Working situation

Step 3: Arrange a home visit

Once the cat shelter has reviewed your application and they feel your details suit a cat that they currently have available for adoption, they will contact you further and ask for more details and to arrange a home visit. The home visit is in place so that they can give you tips on things to think about before your rescue cat comes home.

They can provide advice on:

  • The environment,

  • Type of cat food

  • Toys

  • Give any tips you may need on caring for your cat to keep them safe and happy.

For example, as well as a comfortable bed, your adopted cat will also need a snug hiding place for when they want to get away from the world - especially while they are settling in.

Step 4: Collect your adopted cat!

When everyone is happy that your chosen cat is the right one for you, and that your home is suitable and ready for it's newest addition, it's time to head back to the centre/rescue to have your new family member officially signed over! This may include filling out some forms to confirm that you will give your new cat the very best care they deserve and if there is an adoption fee you will be asked to pay. As a rescue, we provide a folder which includes a booklet containing all the information you will need to know about caring for your new cat or kitten. We advise you take care when bringing your new cat home and make sure that they are introduced slowly, especially If you have other animals or children in the house.

Adopting a rescue is such a wonderful thing. Whether you’d like to adopt a cat, dog, rabbit, ferret or any other animal, you want to make sure you consider all that it takes to become a very good and caring pet owner.

As a cat rescue, our cats and kittens are the heart of what we do, so we will pull out all the stops to make sure our cats are cared for by their new adoptee parents in the very best way possible. If you would like to find out more about us and our work, please visit our website at or you can follow us on our Facebook page @thecatwelfaregroup.

Remember you are not alone in the process of adopting a cat, which is why you can also join our private Facebook group to gain support from the KatKin community. Whether you want to discuss the adoption steps in more detail, or find the perfect Fresh cat or kitten food flavour for your new arrival. Someone will be on hand to guide you through the process.

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