What to know about adopting a cat from the shelter + Tips on being on your cat's level.

For my birthday (which was on Saturday) my bf surprised me with my long awaited KITTY #2!! Our first cat, Jax, who is now almost 2yrs old or so was an adopted cat. He was 9 months old when we adopted him and it was pretty much established that it was "meant to be".
Let me start off by talking about my experience and background with cats prior to our first cat: NONE. There. I said it. My family is allergic to cats so I never had one growing up. And maybe some people are on the same boat. I'm a 25yr old student and I live with my boyfriend who works full time. Neither one of us had any experience with cats until we adopted Jax. With that being said, first timers to cats can either be extremely pleasant and successful or be a disaster. It's all about YOUR mentality as a person really.

First of all, if want to adopt a cat, please ask yourself WHY.
For example, our reason was that, well, we had been living together as a couple for over a year, and like a married couple once settled down might eventually want kids, we wanted a new addition to our family as well. Since we're not married, pets were the alternative. Or if you are single, perhaps you just want a companion.

(This is going to be a very lengthy post. And I mean....like, really long. I type too fast lol)

You know, both my bf and I are huge DOG lovers. But we couldn't get a dog because our apartment was too small and both of us dislike small yippy dogs. If I get a dog, I want that bitch to be HUGE. I've always wanted a big dog. But regardless of their size, dogs are WAY more work than cats and I wouldn't want to put a dog in such a small confined area. And if we're both gone to work or school all day, I feel like it's not appropriate to have a needier pet. So we postponed on our dream dog for the future--with perhaps a HOUSE with a yard. One can dream. And really, every future adoptee should consider this first. Dog or cat? If you're the busy type, lazy type, or just plain parties all the time type, please don't get a dog. Just get a cat. They are by nature, independent creatures. They don't need you 24/7 unless it's a kitten who lost its mom or something.

There are two different types of shelters that usually exist in the US: Kill shelters and no kills. I think, this is pretty self explanatory. The benefit added of no kill shelters are that because they don't plan on euthanizing the pets, the shelters are usually smaller they also may be more selective about what pets they put up for adoption. So more than likely, you will find a pet that you can truly love. Kill shelters are much bigger and tend to have more selections of cats and kittens, but if things don't work out between you and said pets, it's more than likely they will just kill the poor thing. (Think about it. If you don't want it, would anyone else?)

Before you go off and choose your potential Garfield, ask yourself if you want an adult cat or a kitten. Let's face it, everyone wants a tiny, cute and cuddly kitten. Most people prefer kittens over an adult cat when adopting because there is this theory that kittens will be more 'affectionate' and attached to their owners.
WRONG. Studies have shown that you simply CANNOT MOLD A CAT'S PERSONALITY. When that cute little bundle of fur grows into an adult, no matter how much you cuddle it and give it affection, it may not turn out to be an affectionate cat at all. A kitten is just like a baby. It's so tiny and small and its brain is not well developed yet, so as humans, we can manipulate it seemingly but once that kitten turns into an adult with its own personality, us humans have very little to do with what kind of cat it will be.

It's sad but true, a lot of people get kittens and end up putting up the cat for adoption or neglecting it as an adult because it no longer is 'the cat they wanted'. So consider that before you choose kittens over cats. Not to mention, kittens are always the first to go at a shelter, whereas even the sweetest adult cat may never make it to a good home. It's really sad. At least with an adult cat, you will know what you are getting because you'll be able to scope out its personality. Or you can go for a happy medium like we did. Jax was 9 months old which is still young but almost an adult. Our new kitty is 10 months old. I think that 6 months - 2yrs is a good age to adopt a cat. Even a 2yr old cat has a lot of room to grow. But just don't single out. If you're willing to adopt a 2yr old cat, why not a 4yr old cat or an 8yr old cat? Hey, even if the cat dies in another 8yrs or so, at least that's 8yrs in a happy home with love and warmth as opposed to being put down. And trust me, after the age of 4yrs, most cats do not make it out of the shelter--ever and they might have been the perfect most cuddly, affectionate, loving cat. It will never get to share that with an owner just because of its age.

Going to an animal shelter is probably going to be the best experience and worst experience of your life. You will love/hate it there. You'll probably feel really bad for all the animals there and then feel like adopting every one of them. Build a farm dammit! Anyway, my first experience was like--OMGKITTIESANDDOGS. I hate this place. But that's when you need to really look at your notes. You did write down some notes right?

Be selective.
DO NOT settle for the first cat you see. Yes, they are all freaking adorable but there are so many options! And I know how much Snowballs eyes are twinkling at you and how pretty her coat is but BE SELECTIVE. The important thing is that YOU need to like the cat. It's better to be a bit shallow while you're there and be super selective about which cat you get, than end up not liking the thing and returning it. Even if it is a no-kill shelter, it's still pretty cruel to return it.

Don't judge a cat by its color!
Honestly, I can't tell you how many of my friends have told me horror stories about adopting a really pretty cat or really cute kitten only to find out how mean it was. lol. Serves them right anyhow. I consider myself a shallow person but even I know better than to pick a cat just because it's "faaaaabulous". It could be faaabulously a bitch and I ain't down with that! So go slowly. Usually cats that are friendly will come up to people in their cages! That's when you know...they have a chance with you. If you see a cat you like, ask the shelter person if you can play with it. Most shelters have a designated play area to bond with the cat before you decide to adopt it.

When you're testing out the potential kitty, ask yourself what you are looking for in a cat. For example, the first time we got Jax, we basically wanted a playful cat who wasn't boring but wasn't obnoxious. He was 9 months old which is basically teenager years so he was pretty energetic. He was SO adorably playful when we were at the shelter that we couldn't resist. He was also black with white accents which is one of the most common of domestic short haired cats. These guys do not get adopted as easily and there were plenty more beautiful cats around him but we just knew he was the one. Definitely LOOK for traits or personality in the cat to match what you want.

Jax was actually not the only potential. There was another right next to him who was 7 months old and I remember her name still. POLLY! She was a tabby cat and O-M-G she was so adorable! I can't even......UGH. What is interesting to note is that when we took her out to play with her, she was playful like Jax but she was also really REALLY affectionate! She was rubbing her head and body against us, purring like crazy, and even rolling on her back to show submissiveness! This is very VERY rare in cats and strangers. Exposing cat belly is like walking through a gang territory--naked. You're THAT vulnerable to attacks. But this kitty was not shy at all. She must've come from a loving home and maybe got lost or something. It's a shame. Despite all that though, we still went for Jax! And if you ask me, I think that anyone else would choose the Tabby over our black and white Jax at the time, but we went for Jax for no other reason over Polly than BECAUSE WE FELT CONNECTED TO JAX. There is a pet to owner connection I believe. And I think our decision to choose Jax was just 'fate' or meant to be. Now that I think about it, I'm 99% sure someone adopted Polly because she was adorable for one and she was affectionate--which is what most people want in a cat to adopt! But Jax was not really affectionate as he was just playful at the time. Black and white Tux kitties are so common that I feel like Jax may have not gotten adopted. I'm so glad we chose him!

Okay, let me just start off by saying that I AM NOT A PATIENT PERSON. I really dislike the "I'm a cat I do what I wanna" cattitude sometimes because I'M also one of those people who think like that. And when two princesses are living together, it's like, shits about to go down. But seriously, when we brought Jax home he was a little bundle of joy and brattiness. He would bite like the dickens and scratch us to kingdom come. I remember the bruises and scratch marks my bf got from trying to handle him. He was and has always been A BITER. With that said, sometimes your short visit with a cat at the shelter may not be enough time to really know what the cat is like. He may have hidden behaviors that don't come out until you adopt him and take him home. And biting happens to be one of those things that people just find out about their cats. It can be corrected but at the same time, just remember that like people, cats have personalities of their own. At 9 months, he already developed his personality. I was at a point after about two months or so, where I actually seriously considered returning him because he was just too bitey and scratchy. My bf is very thoughtful of how I feel so if I really wanted to, he would agree to return him. But of course, neither of us really felt like that was necessary. I mean, he's a fucking cat. I may not have much cat knowledge but I am damn aware that cats BITE and scratch by nature. I wasn't about to let that get the better of me.

Yes, he drew blood a few times.
Yes, he was a brat a lot of times.

And a year later, guess what.......HE HAS NOT CHANGED. lol. He still claws our furniture, the carpet, and he bites when he wants to, but I love my cat TO DEATH. Again, I want to emphasize that I was/am not 100% a cat person really. But Jax grew on me.

I read that 6 months with a new cat is not a long time at all to the cat. Cats have short term memory so they need to be around you for longer than a few months to really bond to you. So it's really kinda unfair to just let the cat go without letting her/him get to know you better. Think about an adopted teenager. You really think with their personalities and understanding of the world, they're just going to cozy up to their adopted parents? It's the same damn mentality. You can't really expect a new cat to treat you like their god. Dogs are a bit better in bonding with owners quicker but I digress.....we're not talking about a dog here. Cats are different. They are by nature, independent. So to be a lap cat house pet, they definitely need time to grow fond of you.

Going back to Jax, I feel that in the year we've had him, he's bonded with us QUITE a lot. He's sort of the typical cat story. He's kind of aloof when he wants to be, kind of too hyper when we don't want him to be, and sometimes hes' just a sweetheart (mostly when they're sleeping amirite?) and sometimes he's a downright bitch. BUT what I love about Jax far outweighs the little things that annoy me. For one, Jax truly 'misses' us when we are both away from home for majority of the day. When we get home, he starts purring and being affectionate right away. Jax also loves to sleep in weird positions that I just find downright hilarious..
imageExhibit A.
He also has personality perks that I absolutely love. If I had to describe Jax in human terms, I'd say he's like.......an adult who is trying hard to be a teenager still, who acts like this "bad boy" all the time but is actually really quite a wimp, and is an over all 'class clown'. I'd be damned if people say cats don't have personality. Jax is chalk full of it.
And the sad truth is, we would've never seen this side of my cat if we didn't keep him for longer than a couple of months. It's not so different from how people act if you think about it. Do you really open yourself up 100% to people you just met? It takes time to get to know a person and cats are the same way.

Honestly, I don't really have an answer to how two discipline your cat because I've tried everything and Jax still bites. Solution? Leave him alone when he wants to be left alone. There. I am convinced that like, 90% of the cat owners who claim they cannot discipline their cat and it still bites them and still hurts them, are really just doing it to themselves. Jax attacks my feet when I walk by. Yeah, it's annoying as hell honestly, but now I just see him running and I kick him away or throw something in front of him to distract him. Or I just completely ignore him leaving him to be bored and pissed that I'm not reacting. Honestly, I think if your cat is acting feral it probably is feral. Or it could have some underlying disease. It's not normal for domestic bred cats to act feral unless they were literally feral cats. I can understand a cat might have a really bitchy attitude problem or something but if they are legit aggressive with you and its NOT for play, then there's either something wrong with your cat or it's you're probably messing with it and causing it to be aggressive. I'm not just saying that to be mean, I think that's the damn truth. Any aggressive cat can be tamed if you just leave it alone or don't provoke it.

I should know. I provoke Jax all the time. I pick him up, rub his belly, and he'll start opening his mouth to show that he's one scary motherfucker. But I know better. I still rub his belly and he'll go for my hand, *gnaw gnaw gnaw*. And honestly, I think it's hilarious that he gets pissed. But he knows damn well he pisses me off too. It's an eye for an eye in my household. No matter how much I like to fuck with my cat, I know Jax knows I just love to play around with him. And I know he likes playing with me. At the end of the day, we snuggle together and all is gravy.
That is to say, I hate it when cat crazy people are like, "Don't be rough with your cat! Let it be gentle. blah blah blah" Honestly, it's MY fucking cat. I can do what I want with him, but just know that you'll be getting what you give. If you mess with your cat, it's going to mess with you. But Jax is far from boring. He's like a little brother I love to mess with. That's the kind of relationship I have with my cat. And even though he tends to be a rough boy, he's still a sweetie at heart. When guests come over, he usually greets them rather than running away. He is definitely NOT SHY. But my point is, it has nothing to do with how I play with him. This is his PERSONALITY.
And to add on to that point, Jax is definitely not a cat for everyone. He is NOT mellow. I rough house with him because he is that kind of cat who likes to play ALL THE TIME. So really, make sure you can tolerate the personality your cat has or it just won't be a match. But of course, I already knew this about my cat before I even took him home.

I know that sounds stupid, but I honestly think its true. My cat loves to groom me. If I'm laying next to him, he'll just groom my arm, my face, legs, w/e until I'm sparkling clean. It's kinda gross but at the same time, I think it's kinda cute. He treats me like I'm s big ass cat. When I play with him, I get down on the ground too and act like a cat. I think this helps cats not feel so intimidated by the size of humans when they play with them. When kittens play together, they usually are very rough because cats have tough skin. The downside of playing with your cat like a cat is that sometimes he may play bite you and it will really hurt. You have to kind of train your cat to not bite so hard or use its claws.
As mentioned earlier, when we first got Jax, he fckd up our arms.It literally looked like we were both some emo kids who had self affliction issues. But now I play with my cat and he bats his paws at me without retracting his claws. I would just tell him "NO" firmly when we play and he uses his claws and sure enough, over time, he would just start retracting them. This is not fool proof as every cat is different. But honestly, it just takes time. It took a long ass time for my cat to stop using his claws when he plays and sometimes he still uses his claws. One thing is for sure, if you can't play with your cat yourself a lot of the time, make sure you buy him some interesting toys.

A lot of people, including myself, get really frustrated sometimes when their cat is just as stubborn as a girl who is trying to fit into the only pair of jeans left on the rack that is a size too small. No matter how many times I try to get my cat to stay off my table and stop knock my shit over in the morning, or stop jumping on the dining table, I fail to no avail. But you just have to remind yourself that its a CAT. We can treat it like people all we want. We can talk to it about human things even though you know all it hears in reality is "WAH WAH WAH WAH? WAH WAH WAH WAH" (like the adults in Peanuts) but it is still a CAT, a different species from human beings. It does not speak our language. It does not walk like us or act like us. They are different creatures, like women are to men.
As long as you remind yourself that your cat is a cat, you should try to be more understanding of your kitty's weird or annoying antics. Don't lash out at it for using its claws or breaking things. Cats love to see things fall for some reason. I reckon its because they are bored. Give them toys that move around so they stop attacking your feet. Be considerate of your cat even if its not considerate of you because if you think about it, you're taking an animal that was 'wild' by nature and making it a little house pet. Imagine doing that to a tiger. Your cat is simply responding to your world as an alternative to theirs. They will be a cat. You just have to deal with that or don't get cats.


Your cat might be like one of those guys in movies who acts like a badass all the time. They cannot show emotion to the woman they love because they are too much of a badass. If your cat is like this, it too may try to be that badass and not show you 'love'. That doesn't mean your cat is not fond of you....that is unless you're a jerk who tortures it. Then well....what do you expect? But otherwise if you treat it right and give it love, it most likely is fond of you. Your cat is aware that you are the one giving it food. After a while, it will realize that without you, there is no food. So yes, I do think most cats do understand this 'love' via being fed but all cats are different so they may show love in different ways. Sometimes, just being around you, even if it doesn't want to be pet, is a way of showing love. Why be around you if it can sit elsewhere and just be alone? Think about that one. What may not seem like anything at all are sure signs that this kitty digs you.

I find that a lot of young cat owners especially (college students, graduates, etc.) tend to neglect their cat after a while. I mean, sure they'll feed their cat every day and everything but after a while, the new furry pet is no longer that interesting. I see this happening to my friends all the time. They are more fixated on their personal events and going out with friends that provided the cat is really mellow and doesn't really bother them, they just tend to forget about it. Nothing wrong with that. If kitty is a window kitty who just likes staring out into the abyss with no interaction from you, don't expect it to really feel connected to you either though.

Since the day we picked up Jax, we have literally never had a day where we don't interact with our cat in some way. Sometimes I'll just talk to my cat, ask him about his day. I know, it sounds insane but it's actually good to talk to your cat. They may not understand you but the more cats correlate your voice as you 'talking' to them, they will feel more strongly connected to you. It also helps them recognize their own name if you call them by their name often. Not all cats like being picked up, and Jax really doesn't either but he can tolerate it. So at least ONCE or twice a day, i will just pick him up and snuggle him to oblivion. He HATES IT. But the more I do it, the more his scent rubs off on me as well and I think in all honesty, it helps my cat feel comfortable around me. He will sometimes just lay in the bed behind my computer, staring at me from behind. It's really creepy so I'll turn around and stare at him back and we'll have a staring contest. He always loses for some reason. What a wuss.
Sometimes I'll just ask him what he's doing and he'll give me slow blinky eyes. I hear this means cats are relaxed and very content with whoever is talking to them. I should also mention, Jax has completely become a lap kitty exclusively to my boyfriend. My bf claims its because his lap is bigger and more comfortable. That bitch. I always envy my cat eagerly jumping on his lap but at least I know he has it in him to be a lap cat at all. It's also just really fucking adorable.

(or sometimes he just sits on my keyboard...........okay.....)

I don't have any experience with this new cat yet but we are well prepared to transition her into our home. We can pick her up from the shelter on Wednesday (day after Christmas) and we are going to keep her in the room for now so she can get acquainted with Jax. I honestly believe that they will get along just fine. According to the shelter people, our new kitty had a litter mate before so she should get along with other cats. She's also very mellow. We decided to name her NIDALEE! (Yes, Jax and Nidalee. These are characters from a video game called League of Legends) Let me tell you how we chose Nidalee. Basically we went to the shelter, found like NO selection of cats there.

Winter season is the biggest time of the year for pets to be adopted. Kittens go the fastest so there were virtually no young cats there. There were about 6 or 7 cats there total. We actually considered a 4yr old black cat which was really talkative! It talked to my bf because apparently he is the cat whisperer. But I really wanted a younger cat and the only young cat there was Nidalee (who the shelter originally named 'Ginger'). I didn't want to settle since she was quite literally, the only young cat there but she quickly won us over. I feel like, maybe it was just fate.

When we took her out to see her, she was sitting in my boyfriends lap! She just sat there! She's so cute and mellow. I picked her up too and she stayed in my arms for a good 5mins or so. When I picked up Jax at the shelter a year ago, he never stayed in my arms or Pat's lap for more than a couple of seconds. I wanted a female kitty who could balance out my hyper Jaxxy poo. So Nidalee just seemed perfect. I'm not sure if she has some hidden ulterior motif but from what I saw, she was as sweet as can be. I really hope they do get along. Jax may be hyper but I think he can be a really good big brother for little Nidalee ^__^. HE BETTER BE.

(cats are also chair stealers. but you can share, right?)

Cats can really brighten up your life, like any other pet for that matter if you are willing to understand them and let them understand you. I think for a lot of people, getting a first pet may not go as planned because they don't feel bonded to their animal. But just remember that they are indeed, ANIMALS and have different ways of thinking. A pet can ease your loneliness and even make life that much more enjoyable. Just know that there is a difference in perspective of seeing an animal as just an animal and acknowledging an animal as a pet. When you get a "pet" it's not just a furry thing to keep in a cage in your room all day to gawk at occasionally. Once you take in a pet you are basically adopting it and taking it under your wing as part of your household. It becomes a part of your family.

1 comment:

  1. I think this was a great post for people thinking about adopting a cat or any animal.
    I had two cats in my life and i realllly enjoy having a pet cat. I am going to get one whenever i decide to move out. I had an outdoor cat and an indoor cat and both were completely different but both a hand ful ahaha any pet can be a handful. I have a bunny right now and she is always into trouble xD!
    Your cat is beautiful! So jelly!


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