Tozlu entered Old City’s Philadelphia Animal Welfare
Society center, the long-haired, gray-and-white cat
immediately dozed off in the arms of a volunteer. He
purred in peace, belly and feet flopped toward the
ceiling, warmed by the human body cradling him.
all about the belly rubs,” said PAWS adoption
counselor Lauren Campagnini. “He knows what it’s
like out there on the streets, where it’s cold and
food is hard to come by.”
like Tozlu are abundant in the Philadelphia area. And as
spring shifts into summer — prime cat-mating season
— shelters are flooded with newborns. (Cats have a
three-month gestation, so kitten season tapers off
July, we’ll be swimming in kittens,” said PAWS
executive director Melissa Levy.
adopting, there are a few factors to consider, such as
if a cat fits into your lifestyle, whether to get a
kitten or an older cat, and how to welcome your new
feline to the family.
the commitment — and the costs
deciding whether to adopt a cat, first and foremost,
determine if you’re ready to take on a long-term
commitment. “A cat can mean 20 years of daily care,”
lower-maintenance than most dogs, cats do require
socialization, said Morris Animal Refuge director of
operations Carolyn Fitzgerald. “Daily petting and
playtime is crucial to fostering a happy cat that will
engage with your family.”
15 minutes of interaction per day is recommended for any
cat; some will need more for mental stimulation and
energy release, especially in a small apartment.
relatively budget-friendly. Adoption fees average $50 to
$120 per cat, which typically includes spaying or
neutering and the first round of vaccines. Sometimes the
price also includes a microchip implant. After that,
expect to spend $30 to $40 a month on food and litter,
at minimum. Don’t forget to factor in money for a
scratching post and a few toys.
from the upfront investment and monthly maintenance, the
next major expense is health care. Fitzgerald estimates
general wellness visits totaling $100 to $400 a year.
For some, it’s worth considering pet insurance, which
averages $25 per month.
you’re sure about adopting, the application process is
typically quick and straightforward. Shelters generally
require a government-issued photo ID, veterinarian
contact information if you own or previously owned pets,
and a description of what you’re looking for in your
rescue centers aren’t going to dive too deep into your
details. “We’re just looking for individuals who
have a relatively stable life,” Levy said. If your
housing and job are secure, it’s likely you’ll be
personality (and age)
are like humans — there are all sorts of personality
types,” said Karen O’Rourke, the president of Stray
Cat Relief Fund and owner of six cats. “Some just want
to chill in your lap all day. Others are high-energy and
want to play nonstop, which can be great for families
with kids or other playful kitties.” Some are more
affectionate, and others are timid, requiring a patient
person to gain their trust.
prefer owning one cat at a time, Levy advises opting for
an adult, since kittens need to socialize. Shelters
often provide personality clues, and their staff is
trained to help you find the right fit, too.
kitten, and you’ll need to be prepared for any
virtually impossible to know how a kitten will turn out
— but you should be ready for a lot of energy and a
bit of mischief at the beginning,” Levy said.
“Kittens are like kids. They’re going to want to
play and explore every nook of your house.”
bringing a new cat home, pet-proof your house. Do a
quick scan of your furniture. If a cat hops onto a shelf
of your bookcase, will the entire unit fall down? Make
sure your window screens are secure, too, and that
window blind strings are tied up. Put away fragile
items, as well as plastic bags.
plants can pose danger, too; some common varieties,
including peace lilies and aloe, are toxic to cats.
Refer to the ASPCA’s site for an exhaustive list.
Likewise, toxic household products, including
medications and cleaning products, should be placed out
house is in gear, identify a room to serve as the
cat’s home for the first week after adoption.
can cause cats to easily become stressed out. They
should have a small, quiet space — even if it’s just
a bathroom — where they can slowly adapt,” Levy
cat shows signs of comfort, like perked ears and a
prance in its step, it’s ready to nose its way through
other parts of the house. At this point, it’s time to
prep the rest of the family.
have other pets, ask the staff at your place of adoption
about getting all parties acclimated. Rescue centers
offer resources and tips, and sometimes even know a
cat’s pet-exposure history. If a dog is involved, keep
it leashed while introducing the cat — and don’t
give up hope if it’s not love at first sight. Multiple
introductions may be necessary.
slow and staged approach,” O’Rourke said. “By
placing the new cat in a separate room, they can use the
sounds and smells to get to know other pets, and vice
versa, before meeting face to face.”
should also be introduced with care. “Children need to
be counseled on how to pet so that the cat doesn’t end
up getting manhandled,” Fitzgerald said. “A little
coaching, like instructing them not to grip a cat around
the neck or pull on its tail, is generally all it
strays are picked up every day, and kitten season is
coming, so it’s a good time to find a furry addition
to the family.
cats deserve a second chance, to have a home where they
can find love and safety,” Levy said. “In return,
they make us laugh, bring us comfort, make us feel
needed — the companionship creates one of the most