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Choosing a Cat to Suit Your Lifestyle

Looking for a feline friend? Start your search with a shelter or other reputable animal welfare organization. When you adopt an animal, you save two lives: the life of the animal you adopted and the life of the animal you just made room for in the shelter.

To help ensure a lasting relationship with your new kitty confidante, you’ll need to choose the right cat for your lifestyle. It’s important to know the personality traits you are looking for in a cat before you visit an animal shelter or rescue group. Here are some things to consider:

Expenses: Can you afford a cat? According to the ASPCA, current recurring yearly costs for items such as food, litter, medical expenses, insurance, toys, treats, etc. are expected to be approximately $670/year, while an initial outlay for items such as spaying/neutering, other medical expenses, collar, litter box, scratching post and carrier could be about $365 and up.

Keep in mind that pets adopted from shelters and rescue groups typically cost less than pets purchased or even acquired for free. Once you add in the cost of vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, microchip, dewormer, and other "extras" that are often included in your adoption fee, you'll probably be surprised what a bargain an adopted pet really is!

Personality/Fit: Do you want a cuddly lap cat or one that’s playful and active? Do you have the time to exercise and play with your cat? One of the most common mistakes people make when adopting is choosing a cat based on his looks rather than his personality. For instance, if you have children or other pets, it is important to know if the cat you’re considering adopting will get along well with them. Shelter volunteers and staff interact with the cats daily so ask for their opinions to help you make an informed decision. In addition, most shelters and rescue groups conduct a thorough behavioral analysis of each pet to ensure that they will be the right fit for your family, dramatically improving the chances that your new pet will fit right in.

Purebred or Mix: Think you want a purebred? You’d be surprised how many purebred cats are available in shelters. You also can check with your local cat fanciers club to find the names and numbers of local cat breed rescue groups that are dedicated to the breed you’re looking for. Be sure to do a bit of research on breed personalities, dispositions and hereditary traits to help find the breed best suited for your lifestyle. For example, some breeds are known jumpers, which may not work if you have a special china collection on display. Others are known for their abilities to get into even the most contained cabinet.

Cat or Kitten: We all know how cute kittens are. They can be lots of fun but they require a lot of your time and supervision. If you do decide that a kitten is right for your family, consider adopting two together. They can make great playmates and provide lots of entertainment and companionship for each other.

Of course, while most people are immediately drawn to kittens, there are several advantages to adopting an adult cat. They’re typically less active, making it easier to meet their exercise and playtime needs. In addition, most adult cats are already trained or familiar with family life, plus they can bond with you just as quickly as a kitten if not quicker.

Whichever you choose, cat or kitten, mixed breed or pure, senior or adult, adopting a cat from a shelter or rescue can help save two lives: the life of the cat you adopt, plus the one that gets to take your cat’s place.