Tips for Adopting a Cat

June is the special “Adopt a Shelter Cat Month,” bringing awareness to all the homeless cats in animal shelters and rescues who need loving homes. As a no-kill shelter, Valley Animal Center rescues hundreds of cats over the course of the year while also seeing an increase of kittens and momma cats during kitten season (beginning as early as March and as late as October in Fresno, CA). 

To celebrate Adopt A Shelter Cat Month, we asked around our staff for their tips on adopting a cat. Continue reading below for their tips and to see their feline furbabies! 

Choosing a Cat

Camille, Senior Registered Vet Tech: 

“My first and most important tip would be to figure out what you want in a cat. Do you want a couch potato? A really loving cat? A really independent cat? If you have specific wants or needs, adopting an adult is a much more effective way to get a cat with the characteristics and personality you want. Shelter staff often are able to figure out the personalities of cats and can be of great help deciding which cat is right for each family.

“If you choose to adopt a kitten, consider getting two. Kittens and young adult cats can be extremely playful as they are honing their hunting skills needed as an adult cat. Having two allows them to take that energy and playfulness out on each other instead of your hands (and often feet).

While cats can be very adaptive to indoor life, a lot of behavioral and medical problems can stem from the lack of stimulation and/or stress of indoor life. Visit the Ohio State University’s Indoor Pet Initiative. This initiative specifically addresses the needs of cats in an indoor environment and is an extremely useful tool in keeping indoor cats happy and healthy.”

About Camille’s Cat, Rodger:

Bengal cat on a tree

Camille’s cat, Rodger

“I adopted a Bengal from a family who purchased him and had him declawed, then found out he wasn’t a good fit for their family. Bengals are domestic cats bred with wild cats to create a specific look. Being part wild cat, they have somewhat different needs from a normal domestic cat. He required much more stimulation and was constantly getting into trouble. We had to find ways to keep him entertained, to stimulate his wild instincts in order to avoid destruction and mischief. Also, being declawed, his now deformed paws were very sensitive to litter, and he would often urinate outside of the litter box. We had to do a lot of litter and box trials to find one he was happy with.”

Bringing Your Adopted Cat Home

Betsy, Volunteer:

“Thinking back to when I adopted my cats from Valley Animal Center, these ideas really helped:

“I designated a cat room and put their food and litter boxes there. At night, I would close the door. They were happy with that because at Valley Animal Center, they are used to a “room” setting. In the morning, I’d let them out. 

“I also have a dog so I feed my cats up on a butcher block side table so their space stays safe and not eaten by the dog.”

Enrichment, Preferences, and Growth

Anjanette, Animal Care Specialist: 

“The biggest thing that people may not consider when they are adopting is that cats aren’t as independent as we would like to think. They don’t need to be walked daily or always demand snuggles and pets like a dog, but they do need a lot of socialization and enrichment. Some also like to have companions.

“Sure, we have a lot of adults that would do better in homes with no other pets or kids, but we do have a lot of adult cats that would need a kitty, or cat friendly dog, for play time and socializing. Cats like our shelter cat Lyle would be lost without friends to play with in the home. With kittens, we always recommend people take two so that they don’t end up in situations like Lyle who was returned for play aggression, such as scratching his adopters, in both homes he was adopted into. 

“Also, not all cats prefer the same things and their preferences will sometimes change. For example, litter boxes in my house must be in certain ways and that has taken me some time to perfect. That is something I like to let adopters know when they do have questions about adjustment or specific things like litter boxes or food. It depends on the cat and the environment. While the cats are here at the shelter, they may learn to adjust to something they do not prefer but at a new home, they may want something closer to their preference. 

“Another thing I like to tell anyone interested in adopting is that you will have to have a lot of patience for your cat or kitten to adjust to their full potential. Kittens, almost like toddlers, don’t have too much of a distinct personality but as they grow you can really see who they are and what they like. Similarly, cats that may be one way on the adoption floor may become a different being after being given time to come out of their shell in a new home!” 

About Anjanette’s Cats:

“Before I adopted my second cat, I only had one cat named Willard. He would constantly cry for me to go to his comfort areas around the house and constantly demand my attention. After I adopted Tuna from Valley Animal Center, he doesn’t cry out for attention as much and hangs out to play with Tuna. They play and lounge together, even if they don’t like me to know they love each other.” 

The Perfect Pets for Apartments

Maritza, Animal Care Operations Supervisor:

“I would say that owning a cat is fun. They are funny little minions that have a mind of their own and are such loving companions. Many people claim that if your cat loves you, it is far more a big deal than a dog because cats are considered to be lone wolves and so when they show you affection, it really means you have earned their trust, love, and respect. 

“Cats are an excellent pick for an indoor pet, especially for people that live in apartments or the city. They are perfect for small living spaces. They don’t require walks even though some might like getting on their harness and going outside. They are an excellent pick for people that work long days and are not home much. Cats are self-cleaning and they do not chew up your sandals! 

“Take that leap and adopt a cat today!

“There are so many different kinds of cats that I am sure you will find the perfect one for you. You can adopt at different age levels depending on what you are looking for. Animal shelters and rescues are overrun by cats/kittens during kitten season every year and it’s a repeating cycle. 

“While we like to help everything that comes in our door sometimes, we have to turn them away because we simply do not have room but if you adopt even just one cat, that gives us the space to be able to say yes to the next cat that comes in.” 

About Maritza’s Cat:

“I had never owned a cat before, not even through my years of fostering and helping the stray cat population. I had always considered myself not a cat person but still had respect for them and cared for them when needed. Skip to 2019, my best friend decided to bring home Darwin with us for the Thanksgiving weekend. Skip to today and Darwin has been with us through 3 moves and is currently sitting beside me as I type this.”


“Darwin is the most loving cat in the world. He sleeps by my side every night and greets me at the door when I come home. He is the most loyal pet I feel I have ever owned. He struggles with a few medical issues such as stomatitis and kidney disease but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. He is now 13 years old and as he ages, I can see little changes in the way he looks and acts. Sometimes he falls asleep eating or drinking water, and my heart fills with more love for him every time I look at him. I know Darwin won’t be around forever but that’s why I make sure his time here is an awesome one.” 

Just do it!

Mariah, Dog Care Associate and Dog-Trainer in Training:

“My tip for people wanting to adopt is just DO IT! There is always room for one more cat! I have three cats of my own and am currently fostering a kitten. They all do well with my dog, Angel.”

About Mariah’s cats:

“The thing I most enjoy about my cats is they are all very smart and have their own little personalities. Quincy, my oldest female, can sit, stand, spin, off, and recall all on cue. Obi is the sweetest boy you will ever meet but is shy with strangers yet is a total mama’s boy. Pickles is my teenage troublemaker but recently took on the role of mentor and foster dad to our foster kitten, Pimple. He is often grooming her and teaching her how to be a cat.”

“I love watching them interact with each other and my life would not be complete without my sweet kitties.” 



Valley Animal Center is dedicated to serving animal companions in the Central Valley and beyond. Our mission is to unite dogs and cats with loving people. We believe every animal deserves a loving family and furever home. Through our membership-based dog park and our low-cost clinic, we provide local and accessible resources and services to the animal lovers and pet communities while rescuing animals in need from local animal control agencies. Donate to support our endless mission HERE.

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