Essential Cat Adoption Checklist

If you're thinking about adopting a cat, you need to make sure that your family and home are ready for your new arrival. We've created these useful checklists and guides to make the process as straightforward as possible.
ginger tabby cat with flowers

You’ve decided to give a cat from a shelter a forever home—a fantastic thing to do! There are so many pets in the UK that have been abandoned, abused or simply had owners that were no longer able to take care of them. All of these animals are looking for second chance at a loving home.

When adopting a cat, there are many things to consider before bringing your new family member home. Make sure you give your new pet the best welcome possible by preparing thoroughly in advance. From cat essentials that you will need to purchase, to learning how to introduce strangers. The following adopting a cat tips will ensure that you’re ready.

Adopting a cat can sometimes involve a slightly more complex settling in period than when buying a kitten. But the reward of their love will be more than worth it in the end!

Adopting a cat tips

Adopting a cat is a great way of giving an animal a second chance at a loving home. Although they may not be a cute kitten, they will come to you with a unique and wonderful personality, already fully formed.

One of the most important cat adoption tips is making sure that your adopted pet has the right personality to fit in with your existing family. Shelters will be able to provide you with a detailed history of their residents’ backgrounds, as well as advising on which of their cats might suit your family best. 

Always ensure that you’re choosing a shelter or charity that has an established reputation. Most shelters will require a proof of address and some information from you before you rehome a cat. Sometimes, they will even request a home visit to ensure that the environment will be suitable for your new pet.

Does it cost money to adopt a cat?

Some shelters will require an adoption fee to be paid before you take your pet home and the cost of this varies between organisations. If you’re adopting an adult cat, then the shelter may have already taken care of initial veterinary costs that you won’t have to worry about in the future, such as neutering / spaying and vaccinations. Depending on the age of your cat or kitten, they may also have administered rounds of vaccinations and boosters. Bear in mind that you will need to spend a bit of money on cat essentials, to ensure that your new arrival has everything they need.

adopted cat being petted by owner

Cat adoption checklist

The following cat adoption checklist features some of the things you should consider when adopting your feline friend.

What is your home like?

If you have a lot of safe, outdoor space then consider rehoming an outdoor cat. If you live in a flat, an indoor cat will be better used to living in such a space.

How busy is your lifestyle?

If you’re out of the house often, a cat that is known to be quite independent may be a happier fit for your lifestyle. Similarly, if you’re short on time, choose a breed with less grooming requirements.

Do you already have pets?

Some cats get on well with other animals, whereas others prefer to be more solitary. If you already have other pets, make sure you’re choosing a cat that will get on well with them.

Do you have young children?

Some cats may have had experiences in their lives that make them more shy or reclusive. If you have a family with young children, try to find a cat that will enjoy all the attention they’re going to receive!

Consider the bills.

It’s a truly a wonderful thing to rehome a senior cat, or a cat with a health condition. Shelters will always make you aware of any long-term ailments, but make sure that you can shoulder the cost of any on-going veterinary treatment or any cat essentials, before committing to taking care of a cat.

Adopting a cat tips: prepare your home

Once you have read our cat adoption checklist, decided upon the shelter and met your new match, it’s time to start preparing your home for their arrival! Most shelters prefer pets to be taken home a short time after having been reserved, so make sure that you begin the process when you have the time to make adequate preparations.

The most important part of preparing your home for your new arrival is to make sure that your cat has a quiet, comfortable, secluded space all of their own. When you first introduce the cat into your home it should be in this area, so that they can become familiar with one space and not feel overwhelmed.

If you can, request some bedding or other items from the shelter that your new pet has been using. Placing these in their new space will help your cat to feel comfortable more quickly, as they will pick up on their own scent immediately.

Remove any items from your home that may be dangerous to cats, as well as plants or cleaning materials that could be toxic.

Cat essentials

It’s important to make sure that your new pet has all the cat essentials that they need before coming home.

This cat adoption checklist features all the must have items that will need to be purchased before their arrival:

  • Cat bed or bedding
  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter tray and litter
  • Scratching post
  • Cat toys
  • Grooming equipment
  • Cat carrier for transportation

While you shouldn’t overwhelm a cat when they are getting used to a new home, it’s important to provide enough enrichment for them to feel comfortable and engaged.

Cat being petted by owner


Once you’ve brought your cat home, it’s time to start the introductions! A big cat adoption tip is it’s important to take things slowly, let them set the pace. Try not to overwhelm them with your enthusiasm and let them come to you when they are ready. Never encroach on their personal space, and allow them to explore at their own pace.

Related: read our guide to getting a new cat and choosing the right one for you.