As the days grow longer and warmer, animal shelters across the country grow crowded with felines. Because sunlight stimulates estrus (also known as the heat cycle) in cats, the spring and summer months mark the peak mating season for feral cats. That’s why there is never a better time than June, recognized as “Adopt a Shelter Cat Month”, to celebrate rescue cats and make room in your home and heart for a new family member.

Still need convincing? We’ve addressed some common questions and concerns about adopting a shelter cat.

What are the benefits of adopting a shelter cat?

Adoption is just as rewarding for humans as it is for the cat. Studies have shown that cat ownership can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke, as well as lower stress, anxiety, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Children who live with cats are less likely to develop certain allergies. Our feline friends also reduce loneliness for the elderly, which can increase lifespan. There are now several documented cases of children and adults diagnosed with autism or depression benefiting from the therapeutic companionship of a cat.

Shelters are the best place to find a companion because there are as many types of adoptable cats as there are people. Unlike pet stores or breeding farms, shelters are run by people who are dedicated to finding the right cat for each potential parent. Some families benefit more from an older cat, while some prefer a wild-eyed kitten. Felines come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and they all need homes.

Shelters also have an abundance of cats that have already been vaccinated and neutered or spayed. This is a welcome relief to adoptive parents on a budget.

Are shelter cats well-behaved?

Like all animals (even people!) cats have a wide range of personalities and behaviors. Most shelter cats adapt well to their new homes, but as with all pets, new owners need to be patient and attentive. Unfortunately, some cats do require special care for chronic health or behavioral issues. However, if a prospective adopter is prepared and dedicated, these cats can also be loving companions and their adoption a rewarding experience.

One of the benefits of shelter adoption is the opportunity to learn about your potential pet’s needs and personality before signing anything. Because shelter workers want to ensure each animal goes to a well-suited forever home, they are usually very honest and forthcoming about pets with special needs.

How should I prepare to adopt a cat?

Properly preparing your home, finances, and schedule for a pet is the most important thing you can do for the health and happiness of your new companion (and you!) It may seem daunting at first, but there are some basic steps you can take to make the process less stressful:

  • If you rent, make sure your landlord allows cats. One of the most common reasons pets end up in shelters is because their owners moved to homes where pets were banned. If your lease is unclear or your landlord is wary, offer to pay a pet deposit. Most importantly, do all of this before you adopt – a landlord is far more likely to be lenient if you ask permission than forgiveness.
  • Furnish your home with soft cushions, window perches, and scratching posts. Cats who have more places to sleep, scratch, and play are less likely to damage your home or belongings.
  • If you live in a large house, set up two litter boxes for each cat you plan to adopt. This may lessen the possibility of unsavory accidents.
  • Make an appointment with a veterinarian before adopting and schedule an initial appointment to discuss vaccinations, spaying or neutering.

What are the costs of cat adoption and ownership?

Adoption fees vary among different shelters and organizations, but in general the fees for cats are lower than they are for dogs. Payments of $50 – $200 are not uncommon, but most on the higher end include vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and other services that would often cost far more through a veterinarian. While a steep up-front fee will deter some would-be pet owners from adopting, most shelters and rescue organizations want to ensure prospective parents are prepared for the costs and responsibilities.

Of course, being on a budget does not preclude cat ownership. All it takes is a little more planning. Setting aside a small amount of money each week for an “emergency fund” can help ease the financial burden if a pet falls ill. Buying food and litter in bulk is a helpful way to secure long-term savings, as is comparing veterinary costs in your area. Ultimately, regular check-ups and preparedness will help save you money and keep your cat happy and healthy.

Where do I start adopting?

PetFinder.com provides a comprehensive listing of adoptable animals from rescues and shelters across the country, and many Ohio organization post their adoptable animals on this site. Prospective adopters can read a short bio of the animal, as well as view photos and set up appointments to meet the animal in person.  — Erin Norris

Erin Norris is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. She enjoys baseball season, historical biographies, and the company of her mischievous tuxedo cat.