A siamese cat with thyroid disease is petting a person's hand.

Ready to Adopt a Cat, You Think? Read this First


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Cats are popular pets in Australia. In fact, nearly one third of all Australian households have a feline family member. Want to join the crew? If you’ll potentially adopt soon and you’re wondering what you should buy before adopting a cat in Australia, this is the cat adoption piece for you.

It’s hard to resist those cute little whiskers, nuzzling noses and contented purrs. But there’s so much more to being the parent of a cat than uploading their antics to YouTube.

Let’s have a look at what to look for when you adopt a cat and how to be part of the successful adoption of a new feline family member.

Man with his adorable pet kitty

Tips for adopting a cat or kitten

Tens of thousands of cats and kittens are taken to or picked up by shelters every year. That’s a lot of unwanted kitties, to say the least.

Kitten or cat adoption is an exciting time but how will you know which is the right cat for you? You’re obviously an animal lover so that’s a big tick. But what else should you consider when it comes to cat adoption?

To make sure yours isn’t one that ends up without a home, consider:

  • Are you single, a couple, a family? If you are a family, how old are your children? What are their temperaments and their ability to take ‘no’ as an answer?
  • Are you home a lot or often away for work? Who will care for your cat while you’re gone?
  • Do you often have friends or family over? Are they calm or kinda crazy?
  • Are you looking for a kitten or considering a senior cat? Keep in mind that kittens need training such as toileting, while senior cats have set ways.
  • Do you have money set aside to tick off your kitten or cat health checklist?
  • Do you have other pets, or plan on having other pets?
  • Do you have allergies? For example, Maine Coon cats are exotic but will play havoc with your hay fever. Although, scientists have developed a vaccine for those allergic to cats – so maybe you can get one soon!
  • You may even want to consider whether you plan on travelling with your pet.

Answering these questions will help guide you towards a cat with the attributes that suit your lifestyle. 

Medium shot of a boy looking at his kitty

At the shelter

Before you head off to the shelter it’s a great idea to do your homework about the type of pet you’re searching for. Understand pet health facts like that many purebred cats are prone to certain hereditary conditions, just like dogs. Yes, you can find purebreds at shelters though mixed breeds are more likely.

Shelters will know a lot about the cat, their quirks, their loves and their personality. Perhaps check out our Friendliest Cat Breeds article for inspiration on five breeds that may fit the bill? Be sure to ask lots of questions. Take your time. This is a life changing commitment for both you and your new feline friend.

Don’t be deterred – knowledge is power – it just means you know the potential health risks cats can have. It doesn’t mean they will get ill, only that you’re a well prepared parent.

Best to get it right the first time around. That way you can celebrate National Cat Day with your meowser each year without regrets. (Because you’ll have done your research and got the right pet the first time round).

Side view of cute cat sitting next to adopt me sign

What you should prep and buy before adopting a cat in Australia

Regardless of whether you’re adopting a senior cat or a small kitten, there are some basic things new kittens or cats need. Many shelters will offer essential vet services prior to adoption. This will usually include initial cat microchipping, vaccinations and desexing.

It’s important to find out when the next vaccinations are due so you can follow up with your vet at the appropriate time (check out pet vaccination schedule in Australia for more info).

You may have some time to prepare for your new arrival, which is great! Some upfront prep now will enable you to spend quality time with your new fluffy friend when the big day arrives. 

There are five main things you should buy before adopting a cat in Australia:

#1. Food

When you adopt a cat, talk with the adoption centre about what food your cat has been eating while in the shelter. Sudden changes to their diet might cause gastrointestinal upset.

It’s also important to consider the age of your cat. A kitten has different nutritional needs to a senior cat so you should get knowledgeable on whether kittens can eat adult cat food beforehand.

If you do plan to change their diet, do it slowly, and only after your new cat has adjusted to your home. Also be aware of foods that can be toxic to your furry friend.

Here’s a rundown on wet and dry food for cats:

#2. You should buy litter before adopting a cat in Australia

A cat’s got to go when a cat’s got to go. And they like a little privacy (don’t we all?)!

Ideally, the litter box needs to be easily accessible and private – like a laundry or garage accessible from the house. Anywhere tucked in a corner, away from the spotlight, is best. 

There are many types of litter, such as clay, paper, and crystals. Talk with the adoption centre about what litter they’ve been using. Each cat has its own preference, so it might be a case of trial and error. Don’t commit to a 20kg bag of litter, just in case your adopted cat dislikes it.

And remember – the smaller the grain of litter, the more likely it’ll end up being walked outside the litterbox. #justsaying

Read more about training a cat to use a litter box and if you fancy then try out cat toilet training too (YEP, it’s a thing).

#3. Sleeping

Where do you envisage your cat will sleep? Most cats will work out their preferred location within the house to snooze. But if you want to try and get your feline friend to commit to certain areas then you might need to consider special bedding. 

Cat beds and caves, cat trees and blankets all make for comfy cat-naps – check out the ones on our cat gifts list.

If you have small children then it’s ideal to find somewhere the cat can reach but kids can’t. Again – alone time is needed! (Yep, we hear you, parents…).

Cute kitty sleeping on an old wooden chair outdoors. A good bed is among what you should buy before adopting a cat in Australia

#4. You should buy (or make) toys before adopting a cat in Australia

Speaking of cat trees, depending on your cat’s personality, you may want to consider toys. This will all depend on the personality of your cat but many cats love a good scratching post.  If you adopt a cat who’s an adult already then you’ll have a good idea of their personality type and can plan accordingly.

If you have a cat who prefers to lay on your lap then toys might not be important. However, if you have a cat who prefers to dash around the house chasing imaginary mice then a few interactive toys should help keep them happy and active. And most kittens will want some toys to throw around!

If the cat tree is higher than any kids, bonus.

#5. Environment

Do you live on the 10th floor, with no grass time possible for puss? Will your cat have access to a balcony or be able to sit on a wide-enough windowsill to see outside? Are you living on a farm or just in the suburbs? 

How safe are your boundaries? What’s the traffic like? The neighbours? Their pets?

Keeping your cat safe is about more than just vaccinations. 

Cats can get injured from significant falls, wildlife, traffic and other beings. It’s important to protect against the financial stress of such situations, as well as the emotional ones. Cat insurance is a great way to give your meow a soft landing in times of need.

Remember cats can also impact local wildlife, as natural hunters. You should consider a cat enclosure if your cat will have outside access so it doesn’t get a chance to be the predator.

A dog and cat playing on grass

When will your adopted cat adjust to its new home?

How long is a piece of string……? Adjustment will all depend on the cat, its backstory and your home. A senior cat who’s spent the last few years as a companion to an elderly couple will likely take longer to adjust if it’s new ‘furever’ home has a toddler and another cat to share its home with. 

Take things slowly and follow your cat’s lead. Learn about safety tips for cats and babies.

Once you adopt a cat and take it home, allow it to explore its new home without stressors. Things like loud and sudden noises or surprise ambushes from other pets. Visitors can also be overwhelming, so keep it close-knit and allow meow to learn about household members before having dinner parties and such.

Many experts recommend putting your new cat in a room so it doesn’t get stressed or overwhelmed in the first few days. This gives your adopted cat a chance to hide if they want, as well as providing isolation from other pets.

How to make your new cat comfortable

When you first adopt a cat and bring them home, sit quietly on the floor and allow your new companion to explore and approach you when they’re feeling ready. Spend lots of time with it, talking with them so they learn your voice.

As your cat begins to feel safe, you can open the door to the room and sit outside, allowing them to exit when they feel ready. This may take a few days. 

Keeping your adopted cat in the room also allows any other pets to become accustomed to the new smell. Just as it gives your new cat some time to learn the smells of the other pets.  

train a kitten to use a litter tray like this brown one. Litter is among what you should buy before adopting a cat in Australia

Bringing a new cat home to another cat

Cats greet each other by sniffing, so allowing them to smell each other is exactly what’s required. If there’s no aggression then this should be allowed. 

There may be setbacks but this is normal with cat adoption and pets cohabitating. Gently separate them (if possible – if not, pop a blanket over one to take it away safely) and allow them to reintroduce again a little while later.

Read all about introducing your kitten and cat for the first time. Also find out the pros and cons of adopting an adult cat, and our top 12 ways to pamper your cat!

Prep for the unexpected when you adopt a cat

Now you know a little more about cat adoption and what you should buy before adopting a cat in Australia.

As curious creatures, cats can often find themselves in tricky situations. Whether they’ve found a way out of your house or yard or run into trouble at home – it’s nice to know PD Insurance is there to safeguard the cost of many of their unexpected vet expenses. Our affordable cat insurance plans will give you what you need.

We have flexible policies with month-to-month payment options and no lock-in contracts. Plus, you’ll get one or more months of FREE pet insurance (for cats and dogs) when you buy online. Nice.

Click below to start a quote today.

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