Choosing a Cat for Adoption

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Adoption centres & shelters put a lot of stress on whether or not you are suitable to care for a cat. And so they should. But there is little guidance to be found on how to choose a cat that is suitable for you.

This is a little guideline to help you find a cat with the right fit.

This is Maru

Basic Questions

  • How old is the cat? Is the date of birth known?
  • What is the gender?
  • What is the breed?
  • Is she litter trained?
  • Is she sterilized?
  • Has she been vaccinated? Is there a vaccination card?
  • Is she a stray or has she always lived in a home?
  • Is she used to going outdoors or is she strictly an indoor cat?
  • What is the fur like? Soft or coarse? Long or short?

Remember that while kittens may be very cute, they need a lot of attention and may not be toilet trained. Older cats are more independent but may have a harder time adjusting to your other pets.


  • Does she scratch or kneed furniture or other items?
  • Does she shed excessively?
  • Is she a jumper? Does she like to jump onto shelves and other high places?
  • Does she have cat frenzies*?
  • Is she comfortable with [children|dogs|cats|rabbits|etc]
  • Does she like to be petted?
  • Is she needy? Does she require lots of attention?
  • Is she OK with having her nails clipped?
  • What kind of noises does she tend to make?
    • Hissing?
    • Growling?
    • Meowing?
    • Purring?

Hissing and growling can be very scary and are signs of fear and aggression. The temperment of the cat will determine how often she makes these noises and in what situations.

*Cats are crepescular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Some cats can be VERY active: they will go into a frenzy in which they run about at high speed as if chasing something you cannot see. This usually happens in the evening but can take place at any time of day. Not all cats exhibit this behaviour and the intensity of the sessions vary from cat to cat.

Health & Hygeine

  • Does she keep herself well groomed?
  • Does she require bathing?
  • Is she helathy?
    • Nice coat
    • clear eyes
    • normal gait
    • no breathing difficulty or sneezing
    • not diagnosed with disease/virus

Cats can pick-up coughs and viruses from a shelter. If your cat has runny eyes or is sneezing, take her to a vet if the symptoms don’t subside after a few days.

Before you arrive at the shelter

Make a list of your deal killers and preferences. Understand that you may end up seeing a LOT of cute cats desperately in need of love and a home. It is not wise to simply play saviour and toss your list out the window once you see their sad faces. In the cool light of day, you may regret it.

My Ideal Cat

Must Haves

  • Doesn’t scratch furniture
  • Not aggressive towards humans/animals
  • No excessive shedding

Nice to Have

  • older & independant
  • less agile / not able to jump more than 3 feet
  • already sterilized
  • no sneezing / colds
  • round face
  • soft fur
  • dark coloured
  • female

Of course before getting your cat, you should prepare your home to be cat safe/friendly. This includes

  • getting all necessary supplies including a scratching post,
  • ensuring there is no way for the cat to jump out of a window / off a balcony

Before leaving the shelter

  • Take time to play with the cat to see her personality. This also gives you a chance to inspect her health and see how much she sheds.
  • Gently roll the cat on its back and hold it down lightly with your hand on its tummy. Its reaction will give you an idea of whether it is comfortable or distrustful/agressive.
  • Try get a sample of the food the cat is eating
  • If possible, try get them to clip the cats nails so you can see how it reacts


  • Give a cat at least 2-3 weeks to adjust to the new environment
  • Be prepared for diarrhea due to change in diet / stress
  • Take her into the vet for an initial check-up within the first 2 months.