How to evaluate your potential new cat

This is a great time to consider adopting a cat or kitten

With the warm weather comes kitten season, a time when shelters everywhere are overflowing with kittens hoping to find a home. This is a great time to consider adopting one of the millions of homeless cats/kittens that exist in this country. If you’re considering adopting a new feline friend, how do you make sure he or she is healthy? When choosing a cat or kitten from a shelter, feline guardians should consider some of the following health tips and suggestions, in order to ensure that their feline companion will be a healthy addition to their homes for years to come. 

Behavior
While the shelter can be a frightening and stressful environment for any sensitive feline, feline guardians should feel comfortable in handling their new pets without being scratched or bitten. While it is certainly wonderful to give a more wild or feral stray cat a new home, these types of cats will often need much more time, patience and careful handling over weeks to even months to adapt to their new homes. I would not probably recommend such cats in those homes with young children or infants.

Appearance
When visually inspecting the cats and kittens, people should look to make sure that the cat is breathing easily and comfortably, without excessive eye or nasal discharges. Many cats in shelter settings are prone to both acute and chronic viral and/or bacterial respiratory diseases, and while many of these conditions can be easily treated with antibiotics and other supportive measures, there are certain cats that may be chronic carriers of feline herpes or other viruses that can be lifelong issues.

Testing
Most shelters do offer feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) blood testing, and it is strongly recommended that all cats be tested for these viruses before being adopted. For those cats or kittens on antibiotics for upper respiratory infections, I would recommend that the course of therapy be completed at the shelter before adopting such cats or kittens out.

Shelter Environment 
On evaluating a cat or kitten for potential adoption, guardians should evaluate the cage environment for any signs of vomiting or diarrhea, as well as assess if the feline is well muscled and not too thin. While most shelters will routinely worm their cats or kittens, as well as vaccinate them for common intestinal and/or upper respiratory viruses, many cats will have digestive or respiratory symptoms, because of the stress and crowding of such cats in the shelter situations.

Diet
Once adopted, I would make sure to place their new feline companion on a species-appropriate preferably natural meat based diet, with minimal dry food or kibble. Following these simple tips can certainly help maximize chances at getting started on the right track with any new cat being considered for adoption from a shelter.

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