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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. I'm adopting a cat soon (yay!) and I plan to go the shelter and adopt a rescue cat. The problem is, I've never done this and I want to make sure to do it right! I'm going to the local kill shelter first and I'd really like to adopt there because I know I'd be saving a life. (There's three sweet cats at the local no kill rescue which I will apply for if I don't find one at the shelter) I'd appreciate any and all advice but I do have a few specific questions. :)
  1. Should I go once and pick a cat then and there or go several times so I can be sure of my decision? either days or a week apart? - it is a kill shelter :c
  2. How can I recognize a cat with the temperament I'd like? I wish I could be that person to adopt a "hopeless" aggressive cat, but this is my first cat and I don't have the skills to do it. Bless all you who do. Anyway, I'd like an affectionate cat, it doesn't have to be a lap cat though. They can be playful and independent too!
  3. How can I resist the urge to adopt a kitten? I don't have time to take care of a kitten right now, so I need to adopt a cat at least 9 months old or so, preferably an adult cat. But kittens are so cute I know it will be hard to pass up!
Anyway, I'm really excited about this! I just want to make sure I pick the cat meant for me :)
 

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#1. I would suggest going a couple times, but to be honest, sometimes the cat picks you and you'll just know. Does this shelter have a policy where they will notify you if you're interested in a cat and their time is almost up?

#2. It's kind of a crap shoot with any cat you adopt. There's no guarantee the cat will act the same once you get them home, they're alone, scared, etc.

For #3, tell the person assisting you RIGHT AWAY that under no circumstances are they allowed to let you adopt a cat less than 9 months old. No matter how much you beg. Even if you cry. :grin:
 

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Congrats! And thank you for rescuing someone off death row. Here are some tips...

1. No question is off limits or unfair to shelter staff. Including asking about amounts of time cats spend there prior to euthanasia. Also questions about current health status and medications are fair. As well as questions about litter box issues, aggression to other animals or people, and history if it's available.
2. Shelter staff know the cats and while it's true that some cats may alter personality once they get in a forever home and away from all the other shelter animals, most cats will show their true personalities.
3. Certainly visit often and frequently. If you find a cat or two you think you like, ask the staff "Now I'm coming back to visit on Thursday, this cat will still be here unless she's adopted, right?" (refer to #1)
4. Check the shelter website. Sometimes they will give a description and a photo. I always encourage people to go meet all the cats, but sometimes an adopter has a specific appearance/age they are looking for and could narrow down in advance. But websites aren't always complete or up to date, it's better to go look in person - the website just gives a good preview.
5. Ask if the shelter has any adoptable cats currently in foster care and if they do, what the process is for meeting them.
6. Most important rule, pick a cat who picks you. And by picking you, it may not be the obvious cat who bounds out to greet you and hops to your lap. It may be the quiet sullen cat in the corner avoiding eye contact, but you catch giving you interested sneaking glances. Give everyone a chance.

I wish you well. I believe the getting to know everybody, narrowing down, and selection process is one of the most fun activities there is. Very excited for you.
 

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Ok when I saw gizmo...on petfinder...it was instant LOVE :heart. Her description said she was a pure love, playful and sweet. So I went to new jersey (I'm in ny) and met her and that was it..she was so cute let me pet her, pick her up...sold. Had no issues. She was in fostercare and her foster (whomever she was :( ) did a beautiful job. I had wanted to meet her but she couldn't come the day I was there. Gizmo did hiss at other cats but at the time I thought I could only have one..so it was ok

When I realized gizmo was loney (I work crappy hours and would pop in at lunch..it wasn't enough. Got approval for another cat. Went to petco and needed a male, close in age and very sweet (gizmo didn't want to share me). Marshall was cute, small, close in age and when he turned around..it was a done deal..the bug bit me again :heart. They took hi$m out and in a small area watched him play and interact with other cats...he didn't didn't bother with other cats...this is looking good they said he was sweet, a bit shy, but very eaasy going. His cage didn't say it...but he had litterbox issues...they told me then...well shoot..I'm already in love and think he will be good for gizmo as he is so laid vack and likes cats. I didn't care...I would help him. He wouldn't go in litter..I got him going in litter :) he just doesn't cover...sometimes gizmo covers for him ;)

At first she hated him, but now....she ADORES Marshall, has to always be near him and they groom each other frequently.

Honestly if marshall was my first....I would have been a very happy owner..he is SUCH a GOOD boy. He doesn't like to be held or kissed...but LOVES to be pet and rubbed and brushed..loves a good brushing. Good luck!!! I agree your cat will probably pick YOU instead of you picking him or her. I visited marshall at least 7 times before I HAD to have him. I got lucky no one else got him before me
 

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Sorry..I meant to say when marshall turned around...those eyes...those beautiful green and yellow eyes...augh that's when I had to have him
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the helpful tips! I need as much as I can get haha. And I love the story about your cats - they sound extremely sweet! I'm definitely hoping that a cat chooses me and that I can recognize it. My biggest problem is logistics - I get off at 5 every day and the shelter closes at 6 (and stops adoptions at 5:30). So I'm hoping to go two or three times in a week after work and then adopt on Saturday if I find the right one...I'm really excited to get a cat but I don't want to make a rush decision in impatience! (I'm already having to wait until after an out of town trip in early February so I'm not sure if I should even go before then)
 

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I think you will know. They will play on your heartstrings through the night after you meet them (but get as much info as you can first). This life changing decision might even be worth taking a couple day off work for!

My only suggestions - as one that is new to shelter work - is to find the most knowledgeable person there - one that really knows these cats and has worked and played and interacted with them.

#2 is ditto what Marie73 said. DO not fall for the kittens - yes they are cute - yes they are cuddly because they are scared in the shelter setting but once home they turn into demons that destroy your house, your nerves and your manners. ok, maybe a bit dramatic here, but with adults and seniors - WYSIWYG, what you see is what you get. If the cat has been there a while and is settled into shelter life and well socialized, it will be closer to their true personality. A kitten - well, you just don't know how that little personality will turn out and it's a long painful road to get there. That is why we see so many 1 and 2 year olds at the shelters: the kitten was cute - the adult not so much.

Thank you for adopting from a city or municipal shelter - you truly do save lives by doing this.
 

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Nothing much to add to the advice you have been given - I admire you for doing it this way.

Let your instincts work but back it up with really watching the cats, observing them closely and ask for as many details as possible. If the shelter posts info on the cages, read as much as possible.
 

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My wife and I picked out Inky to check out. The shelter worker put us at one end of a long room. Then took Inky out of his room and put him on the floor at the other end. He was in my lap and purring within 5 seconds. He must have RAN to me. He loved to be held and petted. He was so sweet we had to take him. When we first got him he wanted to be held all the time. Then after a couple of weeks he didn't want to be held anymore but he still loves to be petted. We've had him for two years now. He's a very sweet cat. I love him.

So, to make a short story long, pick the cat that picks you.
 

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(I'm already having to wait until after an out of town trip in early February so I'm not sure if I should even go before then)
Wait until you come back. It's only a couple more weeks.
 

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There are all kinds of approaches to adopting a cat. What you've seen is one style of approach and a good one, but there are those that were raised in different era and environment where picking out cats worked a bit differently.
I can honestly say that there was only one occasion I "shopped" at the shelter. Yes, the cat picked me, and he was well intelligent to figure I wouldn't be there long. He was in the top row of cats in that room and waited patiently for me to come by, then he smacked me on my forehead with his big paw! I looked up, saw him, the lady that was with me said he was 9 years old. I said, "That's fine, box him up, he's going home with me"

Most times except that one, I "hear" about the cat or have asked for a particular colour cat and reserved it over the phone. Once at a flea market, bought a box of cat food and got the kitten free.
I never met these cats before, I always felt that the cat was going to be different with me, no matter how he was before and if he was a kitten then it was up to me to have patience. After all I'm certain I'm not going to remind him of his previous owner! And just the same, I wouldn't assume he was just like my previous cat. Everyone is different, feline and human. But the trick is having patience. I have enjoyed and loved each and every cat I've owned! And I'd like to think it was mutual!
They would learn my "ways" just as I would learn their "ways".

Like I said, there are many approaches to adopting, none are wrong, and none are guarantees on how your cat will be either. You just have to know, no matter which one comes home with you, it is going to be a learning curve for BOTH of you.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you find a great kitty!
 

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catface makes a good point about an animal being vastly different depending on the forever human and your interactions with them over time. My very first cat was an adult male when I was a teenager and lured him home behind me. My mother hunted his owner down to give him back...but they wanted nothing to do with that "mean, dirty cat who used their house as a litter box". Berz never once was mean, dirty, or used the house to do his business. He was loving and clean at all times.

Mocha was a free kitten that a family got and she kept scratching the kids and hissing. As soon as I walked in the house and they brought this petrified kitten out of the laundry room (who they wouldn't let out of their hands), I was sold. Her big green eyes begged me to save her. She hissed at them on the way out the door and was the most amazing, clean, loving cat ever.

So, when you hear that Fluffy tends to be abcdefg....remember that was how the kitty was with people who may not have loved him/her or given her proper attention. With love and patience, you may find Fluffy is totally different.
 

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Not real familiar w/ shelter cats...our kittens came from a rescue, I think mom was surrendered to a high-kill shelter the day they were born, there only a couple days before being taken in by a rescue and fostered until adopted out...so I would call them rescue kittens. We got them @11 weeks.
A couple things come to mind...if you are not concerned about color, consider a black cat, apparently they often get overlooked. Also, you may want to give some consideration about whether you will ever want a second cat. It is hard to predict the future, but if you know for certain that you only want one cat, you may want to look specifically at cats who would be good by him/herself...not too needy? Or, if you aren't home a lot consider 2 cats who are a bonded-pair or get along well and are able to entertain each other when you are away. Our kittens seemed to adjust so well to our home, and I think it was partly because they had each other and it wasn't this scary place all alone. Find out if they are up to date on vaccines and spayed or neutered and any policies regarding indoor-only and no declaw.
 

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Didn't read the rest of the posts, so someone might have already said this but...

Tell the volunteers/shelter works what your lifestyle is like and what sort of cat you want. Do you work 10 hours a day.... do you work from home... do you have kids (or plan to in the cat's lifetime).... do you prefer to be left alone... do you want a cat who is always all over you... etc.

They will point out which cats fit your lifestyle. Meet them all and try not to be swayed by color/coat. You don't want to pass up your feline soul mate because you're concentrating on the aesthetics.

The kitty will likely pick you. You'll click with someone you'll know that's the one (or the cat will know you're the one).

Good luck :D
 

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I wish the shelters were like that here in Tennessee. When I go up there/make a call, all they say is to: "Come look at the cat." or "Read the clipboard outside the cage." (which already has barely any information, lol).
They act like they don't even know anything about any of the cats they have. Grr! :fust
The caretakers may not interact with the cats and may not know anything. Agree with head banging emoticon. You may need to visit multiple times and ask to interact with the cat in this case. I like to place a chair near the opened cage (if floor cage) and gently talk to the cat, see if he will come out of the corner and visit or if it is safely in the corner see if it will let me rub his cheeks and head. Once I break the ice they usually come for more lovin'. :neutral:
 

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Another avenue you may want to consider is a rescue that fosters in their homes. The foster families really know the cats personalities and would be able to help match up a cat which best fits your life style and what you think important in a relationship with your new companion.

I would like to encourage you also to consider a black cat since they are over looked and its more of a challenge to find them a home. People have no idea how wonderful they truly are!

I think kitten crazies last for 2-4 years depending on the cat. So if you want a more sedate cat I would even consider a much older cat.

I would be shopping around for a good CAT vet ahead of time. Request medical records when you adopt your cat. Many cats from shelters come home with URI. Your vet will want its medical information, if its available.
 

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When I went to the shelter to find a kitty, they kept showing me different perfectly nice cats, but Pazu and I locked eyes and it was like the rest of the world dropped away. Love at first sight, I just held him and wondered why they kept showing me other cats, LOL.

He is a fine companion, always nearby to 'help', he snuggles on the bed at night, but doesn't love being petted. He does like to be held and talked to, we walk around and look out the windows.

Good luck choosing your new friend!

I love my little black cat!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I love hearing everyone's story and everyone's advice is so helpful! I'm not sure if the volunteers/employees will know much about the cats or not (Because of their work hours/my work schedule and not wanting to get attached to a cat yet I haven't been), but I feel a lot better and a little less nervous now that I have practical suggestions to back up my common sense and instinct. I'm definitely not concerned about color or appearance, as long as they look healthy :) I've already got a recommendation for a vet from a friend who lives here (she has both cats and dogs), so I figured it would be a good place to start.

About fosters, we have a humane society that does fostering, and they meet at Petsmart every Saturday, but the way it is set up is so crowded and chaotic and confusing it was hard to get to know any cats there or tell which cat went with which foster parent. I get very nervous in crowded situations so it also wasn't good for my personality to choose a cat there. Very poorly done, imo. I think at a shelter it will be easier to interact with the cats individually.
 

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Congrats on adopting a kitty!

I've adopted twice from the SPCA, and in both cases I looked at their web site listings to find cats that matched the criteria I had in mind -- declawed, about 2 years old, and friendly. (I would NEVER have a cat declawed, but I wanted a declawed cat . . . and I'm glad I did, because since then I've learned that declawed cats have a hard time getting adopted because people think they have behavioral problems. It's the ultimate crime, doing this awful thing to them and then considering them unadoptable beause of it.)

Once I had it narrowed down to 1-2 cats, we went to the shelter and asked to see them. I think it would be overwhelming to just walk in and start looking at cages, and of course, you'd want all of them. In Murphy's case, we asked for him, they brought him out to a little office where we could sit with him on the floor, and the boy was all over us like, "Where have you been all my life??" He was exactly the friendly, sweet boy they had described, and has remained that way since then. (He's now 7.)
 

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It really depends on the shelter. The one where we adopted Zeus was smaller and the volunteers knew each cat well. (Especially him since he had been there so long.)

But the shelter where we adopted Athena is huge and has a massive kill and turnover rate. They have no clue what cat you are talking about unless you come in with a number and they look it up in the computer. The staff was incredibly unhelpful and really didn't seem to care.

We went from cage to cage twice in the large shelter. Wrote down the names and numbers of the ones we were interested in and then asked to see them personally. The staff acted as if we were asking for the world - but tough!

I would definitely suggest waiting until your trip is over. And when you finally reach the right time don't feel like you have to get a cat right away. If you don't find the perfect cat on the first trip, don't get a cat that "will do." Come back and look another time.
 
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