Do you know someone who would love to bring a cat into their home this Christmas? Adopting a cat is a great Christmas present for the adopter and the cat! However, there is a right and a wrong way to help a friend add a new feline friend to their life. Here are 5 tips that will help make your Christmas gift a successful one!
Title Photo Credit: Mike via Flickr
Tip #1: Give the adoption fee as a gift, rather than the cat.
It may be tempting to show up to your favorite cat lover’s door with a purring bundle of joy on Christmas morning, but it isn’t the best idea. Sometimes even the biggest cat lover isn’t ready for a new cat in their home or they have particular characteristics they are looking for in their new kitty. That could make for a very awkward holiday!
Consider instead, wrapping a kitty food dish (or other cat mementos) with a gift certificate for a cat adoption. The gift certificate may actually come from the cat rescue or you may have to make one yourself (as a promise). This gives the recipient of the gift the ability to choose when and if they want to bring a new cat into their home. Offer to go with them to visit the local cat rescue and help them decide. You will still get to see their eyes light up with excitement when they find the perfect kitty.
Note: Most cat rescues will not adopt a cat to someone intending to give that cat to someone else.
Tip #2: Adopt a cat as a family, rather than just for a child.
Children are notorious for begging their parents for a new pet! Some see Christmas as the perfect excuse to finally wear down all of their parents’ objections. They will do their chores religiously for a month ahead of time and promise that they will care for all of the new pet’s needs.
Remember that cat adoption is for the whole lifetime of the cat. These days, many indoor cats are living to 20 years old and more! An 8-year-old child has no concept of how long 20 years is or how their life will change by the time they are 28 years old. If you are honest, you know, that as a parent, the cat you adopt will be your responsibility. Children rarely keep their promise to care for the new cat for more than a few weeks.
All of that being said cats can have a very positive influence on children. Choose to adopt a cat as a family. The responsibility of caring for the cat will ultimately fall on you, the adult, but your children can help. Take your children with you to choose a cat from the local cat rescue. Have them help you shop for all of the new cat’s needs and research how to care for a cat.
Tip #3: Talk to your local rescues about cat adoption.
Animal shelters and rescues tend to be independent, privately operated non-profit organizations. They can set their own cat adoption procedures and prices. Rescues take cat adoption very seriously and want to know that they are placing the right cat with the right person. There will be paperwork. Most will want to know the following (and more):
- What kind of home does the adopter live in? If it is rented, they will want written permission to adopt a cat from the adopter’s landlord. They will double check with the landlord.
- What kind of income does the adopter have?
- What pets does the adopter currently have?
- What is the adopter’s past history with pet ownership?
- Are there children in the adopter’s home?
- Basic information about the adopter’s understanding of a cat’s needs.
- The name and phone number of the veterinarian the adopter plans to use.
Ask questions! Before Christmas day comes, you will want to know what your local cat rescue’s particular adoption procedures are and the price of their adoption fee. You may be able to save the recipient of your gift some time going to cat rescues that they won’t qualify for adopting from. Some rescues are specific about the types of cats they rescue as well.
Tip #4: Test for allergies to cats before you adopt the cat.
A common reason for cats being returned to the cat rescue is that someone in the adopter’s home was allergic to cats. No one wants to see this happen! While it isn’t 100% avoidable, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of having this happen with your Christmas gift.
Getting an official allergy test is an option, but it’s not necessary. Try to get the person receiving the cat adoption (and those that live with them) around cats as much as possible. Visit a friend or relative that owns a cat. Go out to the local rescue with them. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction after visiting with a cat. Don’t forget that some allergic reactions are latent – appearing 24-48 hours after exposure rather than instantly.
Tip #5: Consider conspiring with another gift-giver.
A new cat can come with some heavy expenses. There are all of the supplies a cat will need like food, food and water dishes, toys, a litter box (or two), cat litter, cat toys, a scratching post, etc. The cat will also need to head over to the veterinarian’s office for an initial check up. Depending on what the cat and what the rescue has already provided, the new cat may need vaccinations, spay or neuter, parasite protection, or various other treatments.
Consider asking other’s to go in with you on helping the recipient get a cat for Christmas. Have another friend or family member purchase a gift card to the local pet supply store! These extras will be fun and lift the initial financial burden of the new cat off of the person receiving them.