Cat adoption in Australia

Ask the cat adoption organisation lots of questions before you adopt a cat.

Sadly, there is a constant stream of surrendered and stray cats to animal shelters and council pounds.  The reclaim rate is much lower for cats than dogs. Only 4-7% of cats in shelters are reclaimed by their owners compared to approximately 30 – 35% of dogs.

The good news is more people are considering cat adoption instead of buying a kitten for the family pet.  PetRescue receives 250 searches a minute by Australian families looking to adopt a dog or cat!

Cat adoption not only gives a pet a second chance, it can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences.  Fostering is another great way to introduce a cat into your life and support your local rescue group.

Consider adopting two cats together that are known to get along. They will always have a playmate and never be lonely.

Cat adoption questions to ask a re-homing organisation

Before your heart melts at the sight of an adorable kitten or cat at the shelter, you need to think carefully about the kind of cat that will fit into your lifestyle for up to around 20 years.  Make an informed decision by asking the right questions:

  1. What is the cat’s history? It may be difficult to get this information but it is worth a try to find out why the cat was surrendered or abandoned.
  2. How has the kitten or adult cat been socialised with other animals and people?
  3. Is the cat comfortable with children and lots of activity or is it more suited to a quiet adult only household?
  4. What is the personality like? When you meet the cat, does it approach you or is it fearful?*
  5. What is the cat’s temperament and energy level?
  6. What are the physical and behavioural needs of this particular cat or breed?
  7. Is the cat ‘indoors -only?’
  8. If you have a multi-pet household, how will the newcomer fit in?
  9. Is the cat litter trained?
  10. Is the cat suited to indoor living particularly overnight?
  11. Is the cat in good health?  What information is available about its medical history?
  12. Is the cat de-sexed? If yes, when?
  13. Has the animal shelter conducted a behavioural assessment

*See the cat on its own, and sit quietly until it relaxes.  Let it come an investigate you and see how it reacts to being touched.  You need to gauge the difference between a cat being naturally cautious and timid or fearful of people.  More on cat personality from International Cat Care.

Your cat may have been living at the shelter for a long time.  Ask for advice on how to help your new cat adjust to their new home.

Cat adoption ready checklist

A re-homing organisation should offer a cat that is a good match for your household.  A cat ready for adoption should have the following completed:

  • health checked
  • vaccinated
  • de-sexed
  • microchipped
  • flea and worm treated
  • house trained
  • personality and energy level assessed

Cat adoption shelters and rescue groups

The standard of animal care and knowledge varies across shelter/rescue groups.

The RSPCA Adopt a Pet and the Animal Welfare League are among the larger organisations located Australia wide that re-home companion animals.  The Cat Protection Society (CPS) located in Sydney also rehomes around 1,000 cats and kittens every year.  The Lost Dogs Home rescue and care for over 21,000 abandoned, injured and lost cats and dogs every year.  It has a Pet Licence Test for potential pet owners which involve reading the relevant Handbook and taking an online test of 25 questions.

PetRescue is a not for profit online service that finds new homes for lost and abandoned pets.  It has a searchable directory of rescue pets from around Australia.  The majority of pets listed for adoption via PetRescue are living in people’s homes. The advantage to the adopter is that the personality of the pet is known.  For example, if a foster cat is happily living with kids and granny or living with dogs, then the rescue organisation will know that these animals can be matched to that kind of household.