The Right Time to Get a Cat

These days, thanks to good nutrition and health care, cats live an average of 14 years, and some a lot longer. When you adopt or purchase a cat, you will be bringing home a friend and companion that will be with you a long time. Adopting a cat is a decision that you should not take lightly or one that you should make on the spur of the moment. Choosing the right time to bring your cat home will play an important part in contributing to the success and longevity of your relationship.

Life Changes

When the kids go back to school, you may be faced with a minor case of "empty nest syndrome." Filling the void with a pet cat may overload you if you must take the kids to soccer or dance practice or if you're involved in special school-related activities. Get a feel for what other tasks you are obligated to do before bringing home a cat that may tax your schedule.

If you are considering changing jobs or planning a move to a new location, wait until you are settled to adopt a cat. Sadly, moving is the main reason pet owners give up their pets. So, don't bring a cat home only to turn him over to a shelter when the move occurs. If you are taking a vacation in the immediate future, wait until you return so you can give the cat adoption process your full attention.

A cat that is a member of your family when a baby arrives will adjust to the infant if you include your cat in family activities so your cat does not feel abandoned. But training a new cat and making him feel at home is difficult when your household is geared to the baby's arrival.

Deaths and Separations

Times of emotional upheaval are not the best times to make decisions generally, so selecting a cat then may result in an inappropriate choice. Divorces and separations from loved ones or times of grief leave emotions ragged and raw. Although an animal companion who knows you and senses your pain and anguish is a great comfort when you are grieving, a newcomer may add to your distress because he requires time and attention you may be at a loss to offer. You may not be able to empathize with his mood and energy level. Because he doesn't know you yet, he may not be able to understand yours.

Holidays and Celebrations

During the first days, perhaps weeks, your new cat will require more attention from you than when he is well trained and has learned the household rules and routine. Teaching your cat not to scratch furniture, not to jump on counters or, perhaps, not to eat plants, takes patience and dedication.

During holidays and other celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries, you will be preoccupied with parties, visitors and preparation activities leaving little time and energy to spend getting to know your new cat and training him how to behave in your house. Your cat may already be stressed by moving to his new home, and the fuss and flurry might add more anxiety to his frayed nerves. Caring for a new cat would be one more thing for you to do, so wait until the holidays are over when you are more relaxed and have more time to spend with him.


You may have difficulty adopting a cat from a shelter on or near Halloween. During Halloween, cats may be the object of juvenile pranks or the victims of occult groups who practice sacrificial rituals. Many shelters have a moratorium on cat adoptions around Halloween to prevent cats' use in these horrific activities. If you're thinking of adopting a cat at this time of year, contact your local shelter to find out its policies regarding Halloween adoptions.

Choose a time to shop for your new cat when you feel relaxed and unhurried. Selecting the perfect pet should be fun, not just something to check off on your to-do list on a day when you have a dozen other things to accomplish. Giving your new arrival lots of love and attention at the start will help ensure that the two of you establish and maintain a close bond for many years to come.