So, you want to add a cute furbaby to your family group; what are your first thoughts? Are you thinking of breeds? Colours? Long hair versus shorthair? (Because after all, you will need to clean up the hair that is shed) Where will your cat sleep and play? Will you need a cat flap? What is your approach to making a decision? Would it involve a family discussion or are you just going to find one you personally are drawn to? And finally, but importantly, where will you go to find your new pet?
Well, whether you are living in a single household or within a family unit, these are the things to take into consideration and may make your decision easier if you create a plan of action.
At We Love Pets, animals are the focus of our businesses and often our lives. We take our love of animals seriously and when looking to add one to our lives, the best results occur when we choose wisely.
Choosing your Furbaby
Kittens v Adults. Before you go off on a random search, do make sure you are going to bring home a cat that suits your lifestyle. If you choose a kitten, you will need to spend time nurturing it and it could well end up climbing your curtains, which, however adorable, may see you flip. Older cats whilst still playful, rarely climb curtains. They are simply too heavy! But, it’s your choice of course.
Long v Short Hair. Long haired cats like Ragdolls, Norwegian Forest Cats, Maine Coons or Persians are will require their eyes to be cleaned and their coat regularly cared for and brushed or they could end up with matted hair and then it’s a job for the groomers. The British short hair cat is very popular and widely available, with Bengals becoming more popular due to their wild cat look. Easier to keep, brushing is still recommended with short haired cats, so you don’t have cat hair lying around your home.
Colours & Personalities. You may be drawn to a specific colour thereby reducing your options; have you thought about what happens to your home when they groom themselves? Especially if you choose a light-coloured cat and have a dark carpet! Invariably, whatever your colour preference, you will be drawn to a cat’s personality. Warm and inviting or cool and distant? The Bengal, for example, is a beautiful breed but may be more challenging than, say, a Ragdoll. A Siamese is a very vocal cat – a lot of fun but loves mischief! All cats have characteristics typical of their breed, especially if you choose a Pedigree cat.
The Implications of Narrowing your Search
So, you may now have an idea of what type of cat you want to share your life. Where do you start your search? Online? Contacting a breeder? Or speaking with a shelter or rehoming charities like the RSPCA or Blue Cross?
Buying. If you made the choice to buy your cat from a breeder, expect to part with a lot of money. Pedigrees can cost as much as £1000 and other breeds can cost around £500. If you were to go down this route, make sure you know the cat’s history and buy from a reputable breeder; one that has cared for the mother and her kittens. Buying a pet online can be risky and could mean you end up paying huge vet bills. And take note, the ideal age to take on a kitten is around 12 weeks, so they can be safely weaned off their Mother.
Adopting. If however your heart tells you to rehome and adopt, you will be amazed by the amount of cats available. This is why choosing to adopt is heart-centred, because you are literally rescuing a cat that could potentially end up being euthanised. And, you will find so much more choice amongst the many cats that are rescued, ending up in a cage until they are adopted.
My Story – Advocating Adoption
My family and I have always adopted our cats and at 60, I have personally invited 8 to join my life. Of course, not all of them are alive right now, but most had reached a ripe old age, the eldest was 21. My cats have either chosen me or I rescued them and I feel fortunate that they chose me as their human mummy.
My most recent adoption took place in January 2019, just over 2 years after my previous cat had passed from a stomach tumour at almost 20 years of age. I gave myself a lot of time to grieve her loss from my life; the most time I have been without a cat. But the time was right, I was leaving the Corporate world and launching my own business, with; you guessed it, the Sutton branch of We Love Pets.
For me, adoption is my favoured route to homing a cat. It’s not wrong to buy, if it’s right for the buyer, but I feel for cats who live in cages waiting and hoping the visitors will choose them. All they want is love, and the wonderful facilities I have visited where cats are taken in following their rescue, have staff members and volunteers stroking them and calming them, whilst they wait for their new family. Do you get a feel for these kind rehoming centres? It brings tears to my eyes when I remember walking past the many cats that have looked longingly at me as I passed them.
I feel that by adopting a cat from a shelter, not only am I saving it, I am opening up the space for another cat to be rescued. And trust me, there are many that need rescuing.
When I realised I was ready to adopt, I took to the internet and located my local rehoming centres. I visited a local family who had turned their house into a rehoming centre for Ginger cats, complete with a dedicated room with some large cages where the cats were allowed to meet each other so they felt at home, while they waited for their forever home. I marvelled at their love for all things ginger. But I was looking for a particular cat. A female, preferably black and white, as 3 of my previous cats were black and white.
My search took me on a mission as I searched the websites of those local charities and centres. I would have happily taken all the cats I saw, but of course that’d never be practical without a huge house and garden. When I saw the face of one particular cat my heart melted, and I knew she was the one. But, she was not alone. She was curled up with her daughter and I wondered if I could take on 2 cats. That thought lasted seconds, before I contacted them to see if they were still available. Oh deep joy, yes they were and I booked an appointment to meet them.
The day I walked into the RSPCA at Godstone, I knew they cared deeply for the animals under their care. Yes, I had to walk the living gallery of cats before I was able to meet the two that I already felt were part of my life now. And when I caught sight of them, my heart burst with love. Shy and quiet, reserved and squeezing together in their bed, I knew they were terrified, so I gently introduced myself, letting them sniff my hand. When I left, I left my heart, but I also left my scarf so they could get used to my smell for when I returned.
As an adoptive cat parent, I was checked to see if I was suitable before I was allowed to adopt and received a home visit. I saw this as a positive step, not just for me, to make sure I was responsible and correctly choosing to add two new family members, but also for the cats, so they would be certain they were going to their forever home and not facing rehoming again.
My cats had been neutered by the RSPCA and were microchipped and health checked for various conditions, including Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FelV) and vaccinated accordingly. I also received a free month of pet insurance to get me started. This is one of the many benefits of adopting, as your rescued cat will have been cleared with good health prior to any adoption.
Now, 2 years on, my cats are thriving in a loving environment, enjoying dedicated play times with the facility to go to their safe places when they feel tired or want to play hide and seek. They are fun and loving and given their previous traumas, are truly coming out of their shells and shadowing me round the house. I chose wisely. Or did they choose me with their beguiling eyes? Interesting thought!
Benefits of Adopting via a Rehoming Centre
Did you know that the RSPCA alone rescues over 30,000 cats every year? So sad to see these very loving animals needing to be rescued at all. When you rehome a rescue cat, you’ll give an abandoned or unwanted animal the chance of a happy future – but there are other benefits too, such as the following:
- Vaccination, microchipping, worming and neutering where needed, are provided as part of the charity’s rehoming service.
- Examination by a vet and treated as needed to ensure you are adopting a healthy cat, especially if you have children.
- Depending on the cat’s needs, you could be given a tailor-made training plan. If you are adopting a kitten for the first time for instance, you may need guidance from the centre.
The Five Freedoms for Animals – Your Welfare Responsibilities
You may have heard of the ‘Five Freedoms for Animals’. These are freedom from discomfort, pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and being free from fear and distress. Failing to meet a cat’s welfare needs could cause them to become sick, hurt, upset or stressed – and owners who fail to meet their cat’s welfare needs could be prosecuted. This is sadly, all too often why cats and kittens are rescued.
In the UK, pets have certain rights by law. British pet owners have a legal duty to make sure their pets’ welfare needs are met. All kittens and cats have the legal right to:
- live in a suitable environment,
- eat a suitable diet,
- exhibit normal behaviour patterns,
- be housed with, or apart from, other animals suitable for their species,
- be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
So, the choice you now have is to adopt or buy. If you are unsure whether adding a feline to your family is right for you just now, then wait. Do your research and make sure you can offer a cat a forever home. It’s only fair and will reduce any need for adding to the rehoming statistics.
You can always contact one of our branches across the country; we offer cat sitting services when you are away and if you want some impartial advice to get you started, we are here for those enquiries too. You only have to ask.