Questions to ask when adopting a cat from a shelter

Questions to ask when adopting a cat from a shelter
Questions to ask when adopting a cat from a shelter. Photo Mendocino Animal Care Services.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment written by visitors. It is a way visitors can contribute to animal welfare without much effort and no financial cost. Please comment. It helps this website too which at heart is about cat welfare.

I need your help on this. When you adopt from a cat rescue centre you are asked questions because the best rescue centers examine you forensically to make sure you are suitable. It sounds a bit intimidating but its shouldn’t be unless you’re unsuitable 😉 There may be a dispute if you are deemed unsuitable. There’ll need to be a polite conversation in private so that you can rectify any perceived deficiencies if you want to pursue adoption.

What sort of questions should we ask the shelter before deciding to adopt from them? I don’t believe you can assume that the cat shelter you are adopting from do everything necessary to ensure that your new cat is healthy now and will continue to be once you take her home. I’d like people with experience in dealing with shelters to comment if possible; if appropriate comments will be elevated to the page so they are more likely to be read.

If you want to download and print the list of questions please click on the link below:

Questions to ask a cat shelter when adopting a cat

If I was adopting I’d write down a list of questions such as these:

  1. Before adopting from the shelter ask about the adoption process that takes place once you are at the shelter. It may be tricky to think straight and objectively once at the shelter. Do shelters put pressure on potential adopters who show an interest at the shelter? I think a person should be clued into this possibility to make sure she/he can cope. Adopting a cat is for the life of the cat. A cool head is required.
  2. Has the cat been examined and certified (by a vet?) as healthy? In this instance we are looking to ensure the cat has not picked up contagious diseases at the shelter or is a carrier of a disease. There is a distinct possibility that this can happen.
  3. The contract (agreement) probably provides for this but what happens if your cat becomes ill immediately after adoption? Who pays for treatment? Can you tell if the illness was acquired at the shelter (a pre-existing condition)? The agreement should deal with this.
  4. Ask about spaying or neutering. I suppose you’ll be told without asking but there seems to be alternatives such as neutering after adoption and providing a deposit to the shelter which is returned after neutering.
  5. Has the cat been microchipped?
  6. Has the cat been vaccinated?
  7. Has the cat been treated for internal and external parasites?
  8. Has the cat been housed individually at the centre (this reduces the risk of getting an infection).
  9. What is the cat’s background? Does the cat have a name and do we know what sort of lifestyle the cat had prior to being at the rescue center?
  10. Why was the cat given up by her previous owners?
  11. Was the cat a stray or feral?
  12. How long has the cat been at the shelter? I am not sure this is hugely relevant, however, except it indicates the cat is unpopular but this, in fact, might be good reason to adopt as opposed to the opposite.
  13. Has a personality assessment been carried out? How did the cat behave at the shelter? That said, cat behaviour at a shelter is not going to be typical because shelters are atypical places.
  14. Will the rescue centre be available to provide advice after adoption and for how long?
  15. Is their a return policy if things go wrong? I am not sure if this is asking too much. Do cat shelters have return policies? I suspect they do.
  16. Is their a contract? If there is I’d sit down and read it carefully. It should cover the above points. If there isn’t a written contract I’d think twice about adopting from the shelter because contracts create clarity and certainty and you need that when making a big decision which this is.

Hope this helps someone, somewhere.

6 thoughts on “Questions to ask when adopting a cat from a shelter”

  1. We have a very small shelter,5 dollars for a cat-10 dollars for a dog. we have to promise to spay and neuter and take care of them.That is about all. I have only got one grown kitty there.I knew he was about to be put down .He so loving and sweet.

    • Can you please share the picture of that loving kitty, if not a hazard to hare here <3

      I love cats and kittens and want to see a many as possible in a day 😉

      Yes! we have to take very much care of the cats which are left alone in the world, we must proof to them that they are not ALONE, we are with them, because GOD created tehm to be with us. <3

  2. I’ve never adopted from a shelter. Cats just appear to me, out of nowhere sometimes.
    But, when visiting our kill shelter, I always ask what each cats’ kill date is.

  3. I’ve never looked at adoption from this angle, so I am clueless. It is interesting to see what issues people are thinking of while considering adopting from a shelter.


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