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The Top 4 Places to Adopt a New Cat

Cholee has adopted several animals throughout her lifetime and has experience adopting from all sorts of venues.

Adopting a pet can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be frustrating to find the perfect cat for you and your family. Before you start looking, it's always a good idea to list the places where you can get a cat along with what type of cats you can purchase from each of these places. Are you looking for a purebred or a mix? Are you looking for a mellow adult cat, or a frisky kitten? These types of questions will impact where you can find your perfect cat.

Pre-Purchase Cat Considerations

Now that you've decided to get a pet, one thing is for certain—you will not have any trouble finding one. Currently, cats and kittens are overpopulating many shelters, and cat homes (whether they be foster or forever homes) are in high demand. Cats are being brought to shelters at an astounding rate right now, and many are at or above capacity. Finding these pets their new home is crucial to helping reduce the overpopulation that is happening all over the world.

There are several places you can go to buy a cat that will be perfect for you and your situation. The age and type of cat you are looking for will greatly influence where you go. Wherever you decide to go, make sure you are fully committed to taking care of your pet financially as well as socially. Cats are very social animals and can become very expensive. Make sure you are ready to commit to your pet for its entire life, as cats can live upwards of twenty years with good care.

A Guide to Choosing the Right Cat

To get the most enjoyable experience out of your pet, research which breed will best suit your family and lifestyle. Avoid spur of the moment purchases or buying a pet as a gift. Consider the cost, time, and care it will need. I highly recommend talking to a vet as part of your research. Get professional and valuable advice about different breeds from the professionals that know them best. Some veterinarians specialize in feline care and have clinics that are specifically tailored for them. Finding the right vet is just as important as finding the perfect pet.

Cats are well known for their compassionate companionship behavior. They are easy to train and as a general rule are low maintenance. They can easily adapt to new homes and situations, and are very resourceful. I have never owned a mean cat, however the home life and history will greatly affect their demeanor. If you are choosing to adopt, be sure to inquire about the cat's history and past home life, including why it was put up for adoption or given to a shelter.

Things to Consider Before Adopting a Cat

  • Room for one more (Do you already have pets? Have you considered the affects getting a cat would have on them?)
  • Kitten, adult, or senior (Each age group comes with their own advantages and disadvantages)
  • Personality (Do you have time to play multiple times a day? Each cat has their own unique personality and knowing what you can handle is very important. Some cats will be very mellow and love to snuggle, while others will be playful and mischievous)
  • Household (Do you have young children? Allergies? These among other household dynamics will impact which type of cat you can get)
  • Short or long hair/pure or mixed-breed

Once you've taken the above into consideration it's time to get to work finding that perfect pet. Below is a list of the top four places I would recommend getting your new furry addition.

Your Top 4 Cat Adoption Options

  1. Humane Society or Other Shelter
  2. Pet Stores
  4. Friends and Family

1. Adopting From a Local Shelter

Local humane societies or shelters are usually the first place people go to look for their new cat. Humane societies provide you with a cat that is up to date on all shots, is either spayed or neutered, and usually housebroken. It's important to note that most shelters and veterinarians no longer declaw cats, as it's now seen as unnecessary and painful for them. Most cats in the shelter are at least a year old if not 2 to 4 years old, or older. If you are looking for a kitten the shelter may not be the best place for you to look. You can find pure breeds at the shelter for much less than you would pay a breeder, however it's more likely that you will find mostly mixed breeds.

The down side to a cat from the humane society is that some may come with behavioral or emotional issues. Many cats are put into shelters because their previous owners could not take care of them for one reason or another. However, it's important to note that not all cats will have problems, sometimes people move or can no longer afford their cat and are forced to give them up.

Consider adopting an adult or senior cat from the shelter. The older ones often get over looked, however their behaviors and temperments are the most predictable and known.

Adopting from a humane society is my number one choice, mainly because these cats have a limited time in the shelter and most cats with issues only need to be showed what it is like to have someone truly love them. If you have a big heart, and are ready for the potential problem behavior these cats are perfect for you. By adopting a shelter cat you are giving them a second chance at life. You can always look at your new furry friend and feel good knowing that you saved their life.

2. Purchasing From Pet Stores

Places like Petsmart and Petco have places where they keep kittens and cats for adoption. These cats come from local shelters or foster families and are looking for forever homes. Sometimes these stores will have discounted prices for cats and kittens as they are trying to sell them quickly. Most stores no longer sell their own animals. They have gone to an adoption process where you fill out applications much like the shelters and animal organizations.

It's important to remember that most people working at pet stores are not animal experts and are soley trained in the art of selling. They likely do not know much about the animals and will not be able to educate you.

Some humane societies use these stores and will come in for a day or a weekend with different cats and will provide you with information and background details about each cat. You can ask your local pet store if they partake in these types of events and you can end up finding a wider range of cats up for adoption during these special events.

3. Using

Different websites will provide you with the ability to adopt cats. is my recommendation when you are looking to buy a cat online. categorizes their animals by breed, age, color, and sex. You can also narrow down the specifics and filter your search by coat length, size of the cat, and household (this means you can chose to only see cats that are good with children, dogs, or both). If you are looking for a very specific kind of cat will easily be able to show you what cats are available in your area.

Most cats on come from shelters and local humane societies. They are posted on-line in the hopes they will be adopted faster. You will also find foster parents and rescue organizations advertising their cats that need forever homes. Pets on will be spayed/neutered, up to date on all shots and vaccines, and will usually be housebroken.

*Note: Whenever using online sources for adoption it's always best to pay in cash or in person after you have received your cat. Sending wire transfers allows for fraud and you may never see your cat.

4. Acquiring a Cat From Family/Friends

If you are looking for a free cat, family and friends are the only place you are going to find a free cat, outside of the occassional newspaper ad. Even with a shelter cat there will be adoption fees. When you know family or friends are trying to get rid of a cat or kitten whether their cat had a litter or they cannot afford to keep their beloved pet any longer, consider adopting one of these first.

If you don't adopt their cat and no one else does, the people have no choice but to put them in a shelter or let the pet run free. Neither option is ideal so if you know somebody who is trying to get rid of a cat, think about adopting theirs first.

The cat we "adopted" from my sister's friend. They were going to take her to a shelter and we offered to keep her:)

The cat we "adopted" from my sister's friend. They were going to take her to a shelter and we offered to keep her:)

I grew up with cats my whole life. All of our cats have come from people we knew, so they didn't cost us anything. However, we were doing the cats a favor, because they were runts of the litter and no one wanted them. If they hadn't found a home soon they were going to be put in a shelter, where they could hopefully get adopted.

It is important to remember that even when adopting a cat it's not free. There are fees that you will pay (some of which can be quite costly, even for a mixed breed), because your cat is fixed and will be up to date on all shots. Knowing where to look and what types of cats you can find where, will greatly increase your likelihood of adopting the perfect cat for you.

Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Cholee Clay


Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on March 14, 2012:

Thank you for the great information here! I am a total believer in adopting cats from shelters. I couldn't live w/o my cat and always remember the sweet ones that preceeded her. All have been strays or shelter adoptees. I especially encourage older people to take in older cats whose former owners died and left them homeless. My heart breaks when I think of these loving cats relegated to the back while the cute kittens take the forefront! Also, pet owners need to plan in their wills for the care of dogs and cats in the event of the unexpected.

India Arnold from Northern, California on March 14, 2012:

What a cute furry family you have acquired! Great ideas for getting a cat. We got our polydactyl (extra toes) cat, Shanks, from a local shelter called "Whiskers, Tails, and Ferals" who had set up at PetCo for the day. I can vouch for your recommendation on this account, as the experience was flawless. Shanks is the purrrfect addition to our K9 prone family. She adores the dogs, and has no idea she is a cat! I just love her! You have done good things here!