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How Long Does Cat Adoption Take? What You Need to Know!

adopting a cat

Adopting a new cat is incredible and exciting, with all kinds of new things coming in as you prepare for the arrival of your new furred family member. However, you might run into some issues if you plan to arrive at the shelter and bring home a cat that day. Some covers have in-depth vetting procedures to ensure that all the animals adopted go to good homes that will take good care of them. It could take as little as a few hours or as long as several days or weeks before your cat comes home with you. Keep reading to find out more about the process of adopting a cat.

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From Application to Arriving Home, What Steps Do I Need to Take to Adopt a Cat?

Every adoption starts with an application. This will let your local humane society know that you’re on the lookout for a cat and give them the first chance to decide whether you should be allowed to adopt.

Application processes vary from shelter to shelter. So, check your local shelters’ websites to see what kind of processes they advertise and if you can fill out an application ahead of time to be cleared to take a cat home.

After the application has been accepted, typically, the shelter will arrange a meet-and-greet for the family and their prospective animal or animals. If the family has picked out an animal in advance, they will introduce it to all members of the family and any existent pets.

During this stage, the family will be introduced to the prospective pet as a visit to prevent the cat from being given whiplash if the family decides not to proceed with the adoption. Everyone in the home will meet the prospective pet and see how the unit gels without making any commitments.

Once the family has confirmed they want to proceed with the adoption, the cat is brought home permanently, and it becomes part of the family unit.

The process can take as little as a few hours with prospective pet parents able to fill out an application, do a walk-in adoption, and leave with their new family members that day. It may also take several months for a shelter to vet you properly and background check you. So, be prepared for this process to take at least several weeks.

Does It Take Longer to Adopt a Kitten or an Adult Cat?

cat getting adopted
Image Credit: Anika Moritz, Shutterstock

Historically it takes longer to adopt an adult cat in terms of the length of a single application. However, it generally takes fewer applications to adopt an adult cat than a kitten. There’s a lot of competition for kittens, and many families are going to apply for a small pool of kittens.

Going for an adult cat, you’ll have far less competition for a single cat. So, you may find that you have a more excellent selection of cats by adopting an adult cat. Especially since cats live an average of 12–20 years, you’ll have plenty of time with your cat even if you adopt an adult cat.

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Final Thoughts

While it might be heartbreaking to hear that your new family member might not be coming home right away, remember that the shelter is doing its job to ensure the cat goes to a loving and safe home. Even if there’s a bit of a wait time with your application, it will be worth it when you bring your new family member home with you!


Featured Image Credit: Susan Schmitz, Shutterstock

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