Today, January 27th, it has been a year since I adopted my cat Remi. It is truly one of the best decisions I have made and I can no longer imagine life without him. Though he may look like just another cat, to me he’s been more than that. Remi has been my buddy through and through, so I would like to dedicate this post to him. I will also give tips on what things to consider when adopting a cat.
My buddy Remi
When I visited the Sheffield Cat Shelter to look for possible candidates, Remi stood out immediately. He was an adorable friendly and social cat, not even a year old yet. In a pretty wild and busy room, he loved to come seeking for a little love and attention from the humans. You would think he knew he was up for adoption, because he was playing the game extremely well.
Remi at the cat shelter.
After a tiny bit of stress and minor debates with the shelter (more on adopting later), I got to take Remi home with me. His original name was DJ but I wanted to change it, so I ran a poll on Twitter to see what name people liked best for him: it was between Spoons, Remi, and DJ. Technically Spoons won, but I did that classic thing where you ask for someone’s advice and you then completely ignore it. Spoons didn’t quite suit him, so I went with Remi instead. Fun fact: he was named after a Dutch rapper’s album, who named that album after a Dutch children’s book Alleen Op De Wereld – “alone in the world”. Remi and I were no longer alone now.
Emotional support cat?
Part of the reason I wanted to adopt was that I was looking for a responsibility. At this point, my mental health problems had forced me to take a break from uni, so I was struggling to keep a routine and I felt lonely. A cat is certainly a responsibility, but they’re not so dependent you have to keep them busy at all times. They can be casual, but also loving and attentive.
Remi turned out to be just what I needed. I’m not saying he did wonders for my mental health – he makes a pretty shit therapist, to be honest – but he has genuinely been good support for me. Cats can have surprisingly good instinct and know when something is up with you. Like whenever I woke up from nightmares in the middle of the night, home alone, and I could just call out his name and he would come running my way like some kind of cool super hero. “My owner needs me! I must go and lie next to her.”
I don’t care if this makes me sound like a crazy cat lady. Truth is, it has helped me a lot to focus on Remi whenever I was feeling down. Instead of pondering in my own misery, I would just turn to him and cuddle or play. He’s also pretty stupid and clumsy, so usually he would find a way to make me laugh.
Tips before adopting a cat
There are a few things to consider before you take a cute cat on board. Shelters can have fairly strict procedures, and they may ask a number of things from you:
- Your address so they can check you’re not near a dangerous road. They also won’t rehome certain cats to a particular area.
- For rented accommodation: proof that you are allowed to keep pets, for example a letter from the landlord.
- Whether you have any other pets and whether these are neutered and up-to-date with vaccinations.
- How many hours you will be able to spend with your new pet.
- Your plans for the near future: are you moving? Are you a student and graduating?
- A home visit.
- Whether pets can go outside or not.
- Whether you have children in the house.
- Whether you’ve taken care of cats before.
- A pre-adoption fee to “reserve” a cat – non-negotiable and not refundable, whether you get to actually adopt or not.
Most of these simply have to do with finding the right “fit” for you. Of course the shelter will want to minimise the possibility of pets ending up without a home again, which is why they can seem quite selective. If you feel the adoption process is a little too elaborate, just bear in mind it’s for a good cause.
In my case, the process was a little frustrating because they were worried about moving Remi in with a dog, as he had never lived with a dog. Fortunately I was able to make a case for it though, because Bracken (the dog) had lived with cats before, and the shelter and I agreed that Remi was a really easy-going cat. It all worked out fine. Bracken and Remi even got two other housemates later!
The full gang FLTR: Remi and Ghibli, Ghibli and Bracken, Picasso and Remi
Litterbox Make sure you have enough litterboxes. The general rule is: number of cats +1. (unless you only have one cat, in which case you just need one litterbox)
Height Have a place where your cat can sit high. This can be a shelf, a cat post, or even just a windowsill. Our cats love the view from the windowsills on the 1st floor and in the attic.
Water Move the water bowl away from the food bowl. Cats have a natural instinct to distrust water near food because in nature this water could be contaminated. My cat likes to drink from the dog’s bowl. And the dog likes to drink from the dirty bowl outside. It’s a win-win.
Indoors If you have an indoor cat, get them cat grass.
Insurance You can take out pet insurance, but you have to read the agreement really carefully. Expect to have to fight if you want any coverage at all. The alternative is to get your pet a hypothetical piggy bank where you transfer a certain amount of money each month. Ask yourself: how much am I willing to spend on a cat? It is just a pet after all, so it’d be wise to set a limit. PS: some vets will allow you to pay in instalments if the bill turns out high.
Scratch post Protect your home and get a scratch post. Honestly, it is no guarantee they won’t attack your carpet/rug/furniture, but cats need to be able to scratch something and it is worth trying to get them to do it on a designated post. Remi knows exactly where his is and comes in regularly to use it.
Vaccinations Keep up with vaccinations, especially if your cat goes outside and/or is in touch with other cats!
Neutering Have your cat neutered to prevent from accidents happening (and more cats ending up unloved and homeless). Doing this before a certain age may also help their behaviour. Remi and Ghibli both had their balls taken away and have no sexual appetite, but Picasso had a vasectomy and his behaviour is completely different. He likes to take his sexual frustration out on his owner’s fluffiest things. It’s quite disturbing actually.