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Considering adopting a shelter cat, what do I need to know?

January 17th, 2007, 10:49 PM
Hi There,
My cat Ice, 14 years old, passed away last thursday due to a sudden severe intestinal hemmorhage. The vet tried to do everything, but couldnt save him. He doesnt really know what happened, but the blood tests suggested an internal infection of some kind, nothing transmittable or contagious, but horrible nonetheless. He showed no signs of illness prior to the day.
Anyway, my boyfriend and I are feeling very empty, and have decided that we definitely want to add another cat to our home, not to replace Ice, but for the companionship a cat brings. Our other cat Rocky is very indepent but also seems very depressed about the loss of his "brother".
So today we went into the local Petcetera, and lo and behold there was a wonderful little female cat, about 6-7 months old, who was sweet, gentle and seems to be "the one".
Now, we have also been debating getting a purebred ragdoll kitten from a fine local breeder, but the choice is hard. "Skittles" the shelter cat really seems to need someone, but a purebred comes with a good health guarantee, and the temperment of ragdolls is amazing.
So what we are wondering here to help us decide, is what we should know about adopting a shelter cat.
Are they vet checked? She seemed very skinny, my boyfriend is worried of underlying health problems and does not want to lose another cat.
Being a kitten, Im sure she would be highly adaptable and fit right in and come back from her skinniness with some high quality food and some tlc.
Neither of us have ever adopted an animal from the shelter before, so any insight would be helpful.
Which would you do personally? Get the shelter kitten, or buy the purebred ragdoll? Why?
Thank you very much in advance for any info you can give or opinions/advice, it will be much appreciated.

January 17th, 2007, 10:52 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss. :grouphug: When they go suddenly, it's always so hard. :sad: :candle:

Unfortunately, I'm a little dense about kitties, but I just wanted to offer my condolences..:o :grouphug:

January 18th, 2007, 01:23 AM
I would adopt the kitty from petcetera. If she was sweet there in a shelter situation just imagine how wonderful she will be when she has a real home and love. I believe that the animals are generally vet checked but I would always recommend taking a new pet to your vet right away anyways for a check over. I personally have 2 rescue cats that have been wonderful additions to my home.

Sorry to hear about your loss of poor Ice. A quick passing is always traumatic but take comfort in the fact that she did not suffer and was greatly loved by you :grouphug: .

January 18th, 2007, 01:55 AM
Hi Sneaky,
I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your cat Ice..:sorry: a heartbreak for you I'm sure.:sad:

As for your new kitten companion selection.. well, this of course is entirely your decision to make with your boyfriend.

I have a Ragdoll (an adult rescue) and so can attest to what lovely and gentle temperments they have. They are indeed wonderful cats.
However, as you have asked for opinions... I would really encourage you to get the shelter kitty, and for these reasons:

You found her to be "the one" in every way.. just what you were looking for, and so she sounds perfect.:cloud9:

She really "does" need somebody, she's waiting for a loving home...and there you are. That is a wonderful thing to do.
The breeder's kittens are safe and secure with mom and littermates.. and are sight unseen. These kittens will always find homes.

I can understand the fear of making sure you have a healthy kitten
The adoption fee at the shelter should cover a vet checkup and spaying.. if not already done.
The good health guarantee from the breeder amounts to the same thing.. a vet checkup to ensure a healthy kitten.
If any serious health issues were found, in both cases .. a replacement kitten is generally offered.

I've adopted many shelter cats over the years.. always adults though, but have never encountered a health issue other than a URI.. easily treatable.

As for her weight.. this is likely from her stressful environment only... and as you say.. a good diet and a loving home work wonders for this.

Good luck to you! Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best with your new kitten. I'm sure your new little one will bring you much happiness:cat:

January 18th, 2007, 02:00 AM
My cats have all be from the street or shelter. Find an outgoing kitty in the shelter and you will have an outgoing cat at home. There are so many lovely kitties in the shelters.

I have promised myself a ragdoll one day.

January 18th, 2007, 02:49 AM
I would go for the abandoned one, her need is greater. If you hadn't dropped by for a peek, maybe it would be ragdoll time, but now she has carved a little place in your heart.
If you can arrange it, I would take her to the vet before bringing her home. I don't want to slag vets who work for these outfits, I'm sure 99% are wonderful, but the other 1% are not. They are often overwhelmed, leading to errors and snap decisions.
Try to find out if she has had any vaccinations - and when - and if she has been treated for fleas and worms (I would definitely worm her anyway, but not for fleas unless she has them, ditto eartmites).
In just a short examination, a good vet will be able to tell you the general state of her health, and whether there is anything that needs doing. I agree that her thinness is probably stress related. Maybe she was a stray, which means long periods of malnutrition, if not outright starvation. She needs time to 'grow into' her body.
Slow integration. Isolate her in a separate room for a few days. On the second or third day, switch blankets with your resident cat so they can get used to each other's scent. Supervise all interactions between them at first. Make sure she always has a safe place to retreat to, when she needs down time. Everything will go well, I'm sure.
Thank you for helping this darling girl.
Sorry about your loss. That must have been one shocking day for you. RIP Ice.

PS We love pictures.

January 18th, 2007, 05:44 AM
Here's another vote for the shelter kitten. Seems we are all unanimous so far. Regarding her health, it really depends on the place that you are adopting her from. Some places only do a really superficial check. But, then again, there have been instances of cats from breeders with underlying health issues, as well. No matter where you get your cat, it's always a good thing to have her checked out by your vet right away. There is no assurance that the breeder kitten would be any healthier, in the long run, than the shelter kittie. I always think that shelters are the best way to go, as these are animals that really need a home, not bred for choice or profit, only by human choice and irresponsibility. If you get the shelter kitten (and I hope you do), she will be very nervous for the first while. Cats do not adapt readily to change, and you have to assume that so small a kitten has had little security in her short life. I know I've said this in other blogs, but I have a big wire cage especially for this purpose, that I always put my new pet into. It's big enough for food, water, litter pan and bed, and this way your kitten can get used to your other cat, and the new smells in your house, etc., from the protection of her cage. I put the cage in a secure, but central part of my home, so that she's not isolated. I put a big blanket over the top and three sides of it, so she can nose about in the one uncovered side, but go to the back of the cage when she gets stressed. I take her out to pet, but always for the first week at least, do not let her loose unsupervised. After a few days, when things seem calm, I open the door to the cage, while I'm in the room, and see what happens. If there's any problem, I'm there to intervene. As a rule it takes any new pet about 2 weeks to get 'stuck' to her new home. You need to be patient.
But, please, get the shelter kitten. This way, you know you've contributed to helping something that really needs a home.

January 18th, 2007, 01:53 PM
This kitten is coming from the SPCA via Petcetera's paws adoption
Now last night I was reading up on what to look for in a kitten,
and it had a checklist, the most important of which were clean clear
eyes, clean coat free of debris, and active and energetic.
Not a single cat in there was any of these things.
All of them had red eyes (the whites), looked like they all had
severe dandruff, and most of them were really dopey looking and sleeping
in their catboxes!
Is this a concern? My dogs annual mag says reddish eyes can be
a sign of disease.
This kitten also had a little runny poop and it was awful smelly.
They were all spayed or neutered, and said vaccinated, but on the
chart (i peeked) it said they had only received 2 vaccines, FLV and
one other. My cats receive something like 6-9 things when they
are vaccinated.

The kittens from the ragdoll breeder are top quality, the health quarantee
is a wide range of testing, all kittens come with a 3 year health quarantee,
their shelter was approved safe by my own vet, and the kittens look
wonderful from the pics.
I dont know what to do - its such a hard decision.
Ive always been afraid to get a shelter cat because several people I know adopted pets from the spca who didnt live a year because of severe health conditions.

January 18th, 2007, 03:04 PM
Sneaky, the bottom line is... you need to feel completely sure and confident that the kitten you adopt is the right one for a lifetime, and that is what you are striving for of course.
You've just suffered the sudden death of a dear pet.:sad: and I understand completely your worry about a sound and healthy kitten.

If you have serious reservations about the shelter cats long term health.. then one of the ragdoll kittens may indeed be the better choice. It would be a shame to have regrets, feel you'd made the wrong decision.

I'm rooting for the shelter kitten though to be the one you take home.:goodvibes:

The checklist you refer to are all important thing to look for, but are primarily intended for observing a litter of kittens in their natural environment - a relaxed home setting.

Cats being offered at adoption centres such as Petcetera are in a highly un-natural setting.
Most are stressed and may not looking their best.. or acting "themselves" at all due to this. Many have have a very rough start in life, and show it.
Lethargic behaviour can be merely a symptom of high anxiety and fear.

The red eyes could indicate a mild infection is present. I've not heard this is a sign of disease in kittens...someone else could help you better with this.
The dandruff appearance of the coat and runny poops could both be from a variety of things.. but not necessarily anything major.

But these are a cause for concern and need to be clarified.

I'd suggest contacting your vet and asking for their opinion on the vacs and the general condition of the shelter kitten.
Another complete checkup by your own vet to ensure basic sound health would put your mind at ease.

Again, best wishes with your decision.. and let us know what the outcome is, wont you?

January 18th, 2007, 05:00 PM
Condolences on the loss of your beloved Ice.
My vote is for the shelter kitty.
I volunteer at an animal shelter and have so much empathy for the animals there. Shelter life is very traumatic and they often don't "show" well. They deserve a second chance for a loving home where they can grow and thrive.
I understand your wanting a purebred but many shelters are overloaded with cats and kittens due to irresponsible owners, etc. When you adopt a shelter animal you could quite literally be saving its life.
Just my 2 cents.

January 18th, 2007, 08:36 PM
Well, we called our vet and asked about those symptoms and they
said to find out if adoption fee included a checkup, which it did.
So we decided to get her! The vet check went great, the vet said while
she is slightly underweight, that will change over time, and she seems
to be in really good health.
The wet poop was probably because she was just dewormed last week,
so could be the reason.
Shes wonderful!
Now just to figure out what to name her.

January 18th, 2007, 09:03 PM
Yay!! She's a lucky girl. You just watch her fill out. Her coat, her energy levels, everything will improve over time.
Good decision.
We'd love to see a picture.
Here's Ebby, found with a giant abcess on her forehead and scrawny as hell:

January 18th, 2007, 09:05 PM
Ebby this past Christmas:

January 18th, 2007, 09:25 PM
Ok heres my first pic of her. Shes being super
snuggly with my boyfriend so was hard to get her to
stay still for a pic.

January 18th, 2007, 10:04 PM
Yay!! I'm so glad you went with the shelter cat. Looks like it didn't take long for her to feel at home. She's lovely. Congratulations and thank you for giving this cat a second chance.

January 19th, 2007, 12:21 AM
Sneaky, that is wonderful news!:) I'm SO happy to hear you've chosen this little one. Congratulation on your new baby, and thank you for giving this sweetheart a loving home.:thumbs up

Sounds like you are thrilled with her. And she is just so pretty! Lovely marking she has.. and as Badger's photos of Ebby testifiy..look how they thrive and come into their "own" with the benefits of a secure home, good care and lots of tender love..

It's a great sign that she is already snuggly and responding... My last rescue cat hid for over a full day.. not at all unusual with all the upheaval they face.

My best wishes to all :highfive: We'd love to see more pics, let us know what you decide on for a name and how she is coming along, wont you?

January 19th, 2007, 08:00 AM
A little cute Tortie:lovestruck: I'm glad you chose her,a lucky little kitty:thumbs up
I too would love a Rag-Doll,a Maine Coon,Himalayan etc...but it's not going to be,my cats just kind of happened,never had a choice and it really does not matter,we love them all,right:cat:

January 19th, 2007, 10:21 AM
YAY! What a great little kitty. Josie came from PetSmart. She was also part of the PAWs rescue. When we went in to see her she was hissing, snarling, swatting and wouldn't let anyone near her. The attendent gave her a treat and her "hook" drew blood on her arm. She assured us that she was the most loving, affectionate kitty and that she was just "pissed" about being locked in a cage for a week. I was really leery about adopting her because she was simply a b!tch.

It was the best decision we made. She has never snarled, scratched or hissed (except at Sam occasionally) since we brought her home, and she is so affectionate, it is almost annoying :p

These were pictures we took about a half hour after we brought her home.

January 19th, 2007, 01:48 PM
Ok heres my first pic of her. Shes being super
snuggly with my boyfriend so was hard to get her to
stay still for a pic.

awww congrats on the new addition, and sorry to hear about the loss of your older cat.

I'm happy you decided to go with the shelter kitten. I have adopted more one cat from a shelter over the years myself.

January 19th, 2007, 06:56 PM
Thank you all! We are so pleased with her. She is really coming along
nicely. Today she had a nice firm normal colour poop, shes not eating much of her kibble yet, but she did eat a nice serving of some good quality canned food.
Shes very friendly and very snuggly. Still a little nervous around our other cat and dog, but shes not hissing when they look at her anymore, not until they come right up close. I think with time she will have no problems, and we arent rushing it. She has the funniest little meow, sounds like the me part is missing, so more like yow. And she sure is a purrer. I love her already.
We think her name will be Lea, which is latin for lioness.
Heres some more pics of her!

January 20th, 2007, 06:54 AM
She is really sweet,it's funny how they just makes themselves at home:cat:
The hissing at your other cat and dog,might go on for a while,my Chico still hisses at Vinnie at times and it's been almost 5 yrs since we got Vinnie.
I think Chico is still hoping Vinnie is just visiting:)

January 26th, 2007, 08:43 PM
Congrats on your new addition! She's stunning, I just love torties! I got my last cat at a shelter and everytime I went in I saw about 20 I would have loved to take home. The one I fell for, she was in the 'sick cat' room. Just a kitty cold. Her cold cleared up the day after she came home with me and she's been very healthy since. I can't go in to those places without seeing my next pet, so best for me to stay away! People dump their cats for so many reasons, it's sad. Most of them are fine or just have a minor illness like mine did. I'm glad you rescued her, but can understand wanting some kind of health guarantee. My experience with shelter dogs was different and I seriously considered looking elsewhere for a dog with a more of a known background, such as from a breeder or rescue group. But the more I thought about it, I figured anything could happen even with a healthy animal. Even if healthy there is no guarantee they won't get sick later or get hit by a car or something.

January 26th, 2007, 10:10 PM
congrats on your new kitty, she is gorgeous!! I too adopted a shelter cat many years ago. She was so skinny and funny looking, but she picked me. I wasn't even looking at adopting her but she shot out of her cage and wound around my feet just meowing. She had a slight cold, got that cleared up and put some weight on her, eight years later she is a beautiful cuddly cat.

January 26th, 2007, 10:43 PM
:thumbs up to you for giving this baby a 2nd. chance.