By Savannah Admire
Michela Ravasio / Stocksy
Whether in your neighborhood, at your workplace, or just around town, you’ve likely come across more than one stray cat. Around two to three million cats end up in animal shelters and rescues each year, and there are an estimated 30 to 80 million free-roaming cats in the U.S. — none of which have loving homes. Even with programs such as trap, neuter, and return (TNR) to manage their populations, the cycle continues.
Adopting a cat from your local shelter or rescue organization can help save lives and provide you with a loving pet and companion. If you’ve never been a pet parent to a cat before, there are plenty of reasons to consider adding one of these playful and intelligent animals to your home.
Top reasons to adopt a cat
There is no shortage of reasons to consider adopting a kitten or cat, from adding an affectionate animal companion to your home to enjoying the mental health benefits of adopting a cat. Bringing a pet into the family can be beneficial to everyone, from young children to senior citizens, and for a rescue cat, adopting can be a literal life-saver.
1. Adoption saves lives.
When you adopt a cat, you provide an animal in need with a loving home, but you also allow your local shelter or rescue organization to help other animals. Most shelters have very limited space, and each adoption allows them to devote that space to helping another animal — and hopefully finding them a home as well.
2. Cats are low-maintenance pets.
Unlike dogs, who require plenty of space and regular exercise, cats are relatively low-maintenance pets — one of the many advantages of cat adoption. As long as you give your cat plenty of toys and scratching posts to keep them entertained, as well as food, water, and a clean litter box, they are likely to be perfectly content and grateful for your companionship.
3. Cats are affectionate and loving companions.
Cats are easy to care for and in return, they offer affection and companionship. If you live alone or just need a snuggle buddy when you’re cozied up on the sofa, a cat can often make the perfect pal.
4. Cats can help improve your physical and mental health.
Pet parenthood has been proven to help individuals better deal with stress and loneliness, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Bringing a cat into your home can boost your mood, improving your sense of happiness and wellbeing, which can in turn improve your physical health as well. The companionship and comfort of a cat may even reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke (one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.). Research has even found that early exposure to cats can help lower a child’s chance of developing allergies and asthma.
5. Cats are unique and engaging creatures.
Each cat’s personality is unique, just like humans. They can be playful, curious, and fun-loving, and some cats are even dog-like and will happily learn tricks or play fetch. If you’ve never had a cat before, you may be surprised by how entertaining they can be.
6. Cats are perfect for apartment dwellers.
If you want a pet but live in a small space like an apartment or condo, a cat can be the perfect animal companion. They don’t require as much room or daily walks as a dog and can add a bit of extra fun to apartment living.
7. Adopting is often more affordable than buying from a breeder.
While most rescue organizations and shelters have an adoption fee, the price tag will be much lower than purchasing a cat from a breeder. Plus, adoption fees often include spay or neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, and sometimes even microchipping, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
8. Rescues may have fewer health issues.
Purebred animals purchased from a breeder tend to be predisposed to numerous health issues, such as hip dysplasia, heart defects, and even some neurological disorders. Mixed breeds, however, often have fewer inherited health issues. Rescues and shelters also work hard to provide their animals with veterinary care to ensure that your new pet comes to you with a clean bill of health.
9. Help break the cycle of pet overpopulation.
With millions of stray cats in the U.S. alone, overpopulation is a serious problem. Unfortunately, shelters and rescues can’t keep up and can’t rescue every cat, forcing them to euthanize many healthy animals each year. When you adopt a cat or kitten in need of a home, you’re helping to stem the tide of overpopulation and assisting in the essential work of rescue organizations and shelters.
10. You can find a cat to fit your lifestyle.
Shelter workers and volunteers are very familiar with the animals in their care. They can answer any questions you have about a cat’s temperament or personality and help you find the right cat for you, your home, and your lifestyle.
Why do people purchase cats from breeders?
Some people choose to purchase cats from breeders because they want a very specific breed of cat or want to know the pedigree and history of their pet. However, it can be difficult to determine if a breeder is ethical, and breeding any animal when shelters are at capacity only contributes to the issue of overpopulation. Instead, adopt a cat from your local shelter or rescue.
Why is adopting a shelter cat a good thing?
When you adopt a cat from a rescue or shelter, you’re not just saving one life. You’re freeing up the shelter’s space and resources so they can save even more cats and help them find forever homes. Plus, you’re getting a brand-new best friend.
No matter what kind of cat you’re looking for, whether a playful young kitten or a calmer older cat, you can find the pet you want at a shelter. Shelter workers spend time with their animals each day and can answer questions about each cat’s personality and temperament. Even if you have a preference in fur color, size, or coat length, the workers at your local shelter can help you find the right cat for your home and lifestyle.
Can I adopt a stray cat?
While you can adopt a stray cat, it takes time and patience for such an animal to feel comfortable living indoors with people. Maybe a stray cat has approached you, and you’ve considered bringing the animal into your home. But before adopting a stray cat, make every effort to find the cat’s family and visit a veterinarian to check for any illnesses or medical issues that require treatment.
What else should you consider when adopting a cat?
Before adopting a cat, take time to consider if your lifestyle is conducive to pet parenthood. Do you have the time and resources — financial and otherwise — to devote to a cat? If you already have pets in your home, are they accustomed to and comfortable with cats? Is everyone in the household on board with having a cat in the home?
If you have room in your house and your life for more than one cat, consider adopting a bonded pair, so your cat will always have a playmate, even when you’re away. You should also consider adopting cats who are less likely to find homes, such as older cats, special needs cats, and black cats.
What happens to cats who don’t get adopted?
Unfortunately, many cats are euthanized each year because shelters don’t have the space or resources to care for them all. Adopting a cat from your local shelter can save at least one animal and ensure they have a loving home.
Can I adopt a cat if I already have other pets?
If you have another cat or a dog in the home, make sure that they will be comfortable with the new addition — and that your new cat will be comfortable with them as well. Ask the shelter workers for help finding a cat that does well with other animals and expect a period of adjustment before all your pets feel at home together.
Where can I adopt a cat?
Wondering what to do to adopt a cat? Visit your local animal shelter, humane society, or rescue organization to find a cat in need of a home. You can also view adoption listings online to find the right cat for you.
Savannah Admire is a writer, editor, and pet parent to two dogs and a cat. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing Animal Crossing, or being an obnoxious nerd about her favorite movies and TV shows. She lives in Maryland, where she constantly debates whether or not to get a third dog.