Bringing Home a Cat From a Shelter or Rescue? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

By: ChewyUpdated:

shelter cat
Mihajlo Ckovric/Stocky

Bringing Home a Cat From a Shelter or Rescue? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Thinking of adopting a shelter or rescue cat? You’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of cats joined new families last year, and at shelters and rescues across the country, even more more furry felines are waiting for their forever homes.

If you're envisioning an adoptable cat in your future, read on: We've got your complete guide to cat adoption, from deciding to add a furry friend to your family, to the adoption process, everything you'll need for your new cat, and beyond.

Should I Adopt a Cat?

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Sure, you’re a cat person—but are you ready to become a cat parent? Adopting any animal comes with responsibilities, and it’s important to make sure you’ll be able to take good care of your cat for the rest of their lives. Ask yourself these questions before you decide to bring home a cat or kitten:
Do I have time
for a cat?
Cats are relatively low-maintenance companions, but they still require your attention and care. The amount of time you’ll need to devote to them will vary, depending on their age, personality and other factors.
Learn More
Can I afford
a cat?
Cats are not the most expensive pets you can choose—but there can certainly be exceptions. You should adopt a cat only if you’re ready for both routine and unexpected bills. Find out what expenses to expect.
Learn More
Is my home cat-friendly?
Your landlord and those you live with should all agree to adding a cat to your household. Consider how your children and/or other pets will react, too. And remember to cat-proof, especially if you’re bringing home a kitten.
Learn More

Still not sure if cat adoption is right for you? These resources can help you decide, whether you're considering adopting a kitten, adding another cat to your home, or figuring out which animal would make the best pet for you. Click the links below to learn more.
shelter cat Popovska

Should I Get a Cat?

Veterinary experts weigh in on everything from cat-friendly homes to hectic work schedules. Learn more.

How to Adopt a Cat

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OK, so you’re ready to add a cat to your life. Where to start? Follow these steps to find your perfect feline companion.

1 Locate a cat shelter or rescue near you.

Where can you find adoptable cats? Try these options:

  • Online adoption listings: For many adopters, the search for a cat begins online. Chewy’s adoptable pets service allows you to search thousands of available cats and you can even filter by location, age, sex, breed, color and more.
  • Your local shelter or rescue: When it comes to adoption, shelters and rescues are the experts. In addition to housing a variety of adoptable pets, these organizations can provide valuable information and support throughout your pet parenting journey. To find a shelter or rescue near you, click here.
  • A specific breed rescue: If you have a particular breed or type of cat in mind, rescue groups can be a good place to start your search. Google the name of the breed along with “rescue” and the name of your city or town to find nearby organizations.
  • In-person adoption events: Shelters and rescues often “pop up” at local shops and events, letting community members meet and greet animals who need homes.
When can kittens be adopted?
At most shelters and rescues, kittens can be adopted starting at 8 weeks old. This lets them get valuable nutrients and behavioral lessons from their mothers while they're very young.
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2 Learn more about the cat you want to adopt.

Before you commit to adopting, there are some important questions you should ask your organization, including:

  • What is the cat’s temperament?
  • What is their medical history?
  • Do they need any special care, such as a particular diet?

Asking these questions will help you understand how that shelter cat will fit into your life. Depending on your lifestyle and budget, they may not be the right fit for you—and it’s better to find that out before you bring them home.

3 Submit an application.

Ready to commit? Apply to adopt! Depending on the organization, you may submit your application online or in person.

Remember to be honest when answering any questions your shelter or rescue asks—they’re there to help shelters and rescues ensure that the animals in their care are going to the right home. Common questions include:

  • Do you have other pets?
  • Do you have children?
  • Do you own or rent your home?
What was the most popular cat name last year?


Bella, Oliver and Lucy also made the top 10. Are you looking for cat name inspiration? We've got hundreds.

More Cat Names

4 Bring your cat home!

Your application was approved? Hooray! You can pick up your new furry family member and bring them home. Welcome to cat parenthood!

Cat Adoption Supplies

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What does your new cat need to live their best life? Make sure you have these essentials at home to start your cat parenting journey on the right foot.
Frisco High Sided Cat Litter Box, Gray, Extra Large 24-in
Frisco Cactus Cat Scratching Post, 22-in
Frisco Personalized Stainless Steel ID Tag, Cat
Yep, cats need lots of stuff. Not sure where to begin? Start with the most essential basics: cat food, litter boxes and scratchers that will keep your new cat entertained (and save your furniture). Click the links below to find out how to choose the right products for your pet.
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Click here to go shopping with our comprehensive list of new cat products.

Cat Adoption FAQs

Q:How much does it cost to adopt a cat?

The average cost to adopt a cat is between $50-$175, but this will vary depending on your organization and location. Some shelters and rescues offer discounts at different times of year, too. Ask your local organization how much they charge for cat adoption.

Q:When can kittens be adopted?

At most shelters and rescues, you can adopt a kitten after they reach 8 weeks old, which is usually when a kitten is fully weaned from their mother. Read more.

Q:How do I prepare my home for a new cat?

Make sure you have new cat supplies like food, toys, and litter box. New pet parents should also scan their home for any potential hazards, such as loose wires or houseplants that are poisonous to cats. Learn more.

Q:What behaviors should first-time cat parents expect from their cat?

In general, cats are playful and active. You can expect to hear them purring when they’re content, and they may even knead pillows, blankets or your own lap when they’re in an extra cuddly mood. Some cats like lounging in high places like bookshelves or the back of your couch; others prefer to be nestled inside a cave-like space (such as that empty box from your recent Chewy order). Find out more.

New Cat – Now What?

Your cat adoption adventure is just beginning. From choosing a name to your first vet visit and beyond, we’re here to guide you each step of the way.
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No matter how old your shelter or rescue cat is, we have the answers to your most common questions. Learn more.

More Ways to Help Adoptable Cats

You can’t bring every shelter cat home—even though you want to!—but there’s so much more you can do adoptable cats in your community. Here’s how to make a difference.
shelter cat


When you donate to your local shelter or rescue’s Chewy Wish List, Chewy sends the products the need straight to their doorstep. It’s easy for you, and life-changing for pets in need. Find your local shelter or rescue’s Wish List here.

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Can’t make a long-term commitment? Temporarily taking in a cat or kitten helps them get the love and care they need until they find a forever home. Find out more about fostering.

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Animal shelters and rescues often need the support of pet-loving volunteers who do anything from cleaning to pet photography to simply playing and cuddling with pets. Learn more about how to help your local shelter or rescue.


By: ChewyUpdated: