Adopting from Rekku Rescue – Cat, part 2

Q: What do I need to take into consideration if I’m looking to adopt a cat into a family with children?

A: Some cats can integrate well into families with children, while others will be nervous and stressed. This depends completely on the cat’s character and previous life experiences. Therefore it is necessary to get to know the cat before considering rehoming them. At Rekku Rescue we’re familiar with every cat’s personality since they are living in our foster homes, and thus we can guide you to a good match. On our website you will find an introduction for each adoptable cat. By reading through these, you can find out which cats would most likely thrive in a home with children. Adopting a cat that has a personality compatible with family life ensures that both the cat and your family will enjoy living with one another.
It is also important to teach children how to approach cats and make some ground rules about treating the cat gently and respectfully. Even the bravest and most patient cat will become stressed, if it is treated like a toy and not given enough space.

Q: Should I get a second cat?

A: We recommend that you always think carefully before getting another cat. In nature, cats are a solitary species and they don’t necessarily need the company of other cats to be happy. Many adult cats get all their needs met from their owner’s time, affection, and shared play. Adult cats that have lived for several years as an only pet or have had bad experiences with other cats in the past usually prefer to continue being the only cat of the household. In these cases we advise that the cat’s preferences are respected. However, if your cat is used to having a feline friend or if they are still quite young and playful, it might be a good idea to adopt another cat. Even then it is very important to find a cat that has a compatible personality to that of your own cat.

Kittens make an exception to the rule and in almost all cases enjoy and, in fact, need the company of another cat. The recommended adoption age for kittens in Finland is 14 weeks and Rekku Rescue follows this guideline. At this age kittens are still developing and learning and therefore benefit greatly from the company of another cat. Kittens that have been adopted as an only cat can be prone to behavioural problems as well as health issues such as idiopathic cystitis.

If you are interested in adopting a kitten, please consider adopting siblings from the same litter who have compatible personalities. Adopting two kittens at the same time has many benefits: they integrate quicker into the new home with each others’ support, they provide each other company when humans are at work etc. and their enormous kitten energy is used up while playing together.

If you decide to get another cat, it is important to prepare carefully for their arrival and introduce the cats to each other gradually to give the best chance of them becoming friends. Please consult our adoption coordinators for advice on how to properly introduce a new cat to your household.

Q: I would really like to adopt a kitten, but can’t find any available ones on the website. Where can I find a kitten available for adoption?

We do have kittens available for rehoming from time to time, but once they are ready to go to their own homes they are almost always adopted very quickly. If you have your heart set on adopting a kitten we recommend you check our webpages regularly, especially in the summer months.

Alternatively, you might want to think about adopting an adult cat. Kittens of course are cute and playful, but they also demand a lot of attention, stimulation and training. Adult cats can also be playful (although not to the point where your whole apartment has been redecorated overnight), sweet, loving and contrary to popular belief, they can form deep attachments to their owners. An adult cat also doesn’t need quite as much attention and activation so they’re definitely a smarter choice for people working full hours.

You should also remember, that kittens do also grow up and all in all their time as a kitten is very short. After a few months of having a kitten, you will have an adult/senior cat for many, many years. It is also important to remember that kittens are still growing and developing, which means that their personality may not yet be fully formed. Therefore you may get some surprises as the kitten grows although the basic temperament usually stays the same.

Please note that we don’t adopt out kittens to become the only cat in a household.

Q: I am considering adopting a cat for the first time. What do I need to take into consideration?

A: Consider the commitment and costs: Any pet is a long term commitment and a cat can live up to 20 years of age, so before adopting consider whether you can see yourself being able to take care of the cat for the rest of its life. If you know you’ll be having a lot of changes in your life in the next few years (for example graduating, starting a new job, moving, starting a family) it may be wise to put your adoption plans on hold and revisit them once you’ve settled into a more permanent stage in life.

It is also important to understand that a cat, like any pet, is a responsibility that you need to budget for. In addition to the short term costs (adoption fee, initial purchases of all the cat’s supplies) you should also prepare for future expenses that may come, especially from healthcare costs. We strongly recommend familiarising yourself with the costs for quality cat food, litter and regular vet visits as well as emergency healthcare for pets.

Consider your lifestyle and living situation: You should begin your search for a cat by first thinking about what kind of a home you can provide. Some things you might consider are: Do you live alone or with a family? Do you work long hours or travel a lot? Where do you live: what kind of a living space could you provide the cat? Are you able to give the cat special care, if needed? How much spare time and energy do you have that you could give to a cat?

Cats have different needs depending on their age, background, activity level and personality. For example some may need lots of time and attention from their owners and others lots of different activities and several play sessions a day. Then there are cats that are quite happy spending time by themselves but that may not be that social with their humans. Matching your lifestyle with a suitable cat is the best way of ensuring a happy life for both you and the cat as well as preventing future problems.

Be prepared to wait for the right cat: A lot of the cats we rehome need owners with previous cat experience as they have unique needs, and in some cases, require specialist care. As stated above, matching you to the right cat is important, which means that if you haven’t owned a pet before it might take a bit longer for you to find the perfect match. Please be patient and remember, that choosing a dependant for the next 5, 10 or 20 years is not a decision that should be made in a rush.

Prepare your home: Prepare your home ahead of time before bringing a new cat home. Purchase all of the essentials, such as a litter box, kitty litter, food and water bowls,cat food, a scratching post, and toys. Make sure your home is safe for the cat; you don’t want them getting stuck in a wall or falling from an open window. Provide your cat with multiple hiding spaces where it can safely observe the scene until it’s comfortable enough to explore. Cats prefer to eat from shallow bowls or plates that won’t irritate their whiskers, and the cat food you select should be high in protein with a moderate amount of fat and little to no carbohydrates. For the first few weeks it’s best to feed your cat the same diet that it had in the foster home. It’s also a good idea to have a veterinarian lined up to begin ongoing health care for your cat.

Educate yourself: Before your cat arrives, and in the years to come, educate yourself in all things related to cats: their behaviour, their needs (nutrition, activities, healthcare) and their training. Take time and make the effort to learn your cat’s language. Cats communicate with us constantly but often their signals are misread or not noticed. Your relationship with your cat will become so much more meaningful once you learn to understand each other. Once your cat has arrived, adapt your own behaviour to accomodate for your new family member. For example most cats don’t like to be forced into contact with humans, so resist the urge to touch, pet or hug the cat prematurely and instead let it come to you in its own time.

Q: I am moving home – can I still rehome a cat?

A: In most cases it is advisable for you to wait until after you have moved and settled in before rehoming a cat. Moving as well as any other changes are usually very unsettling for cats. Since the cats at our foster homes have already had many changes in a relatively short period of time, we prefer to rehome them to homes that have no big changes coming up in the foreseeable future.

Adopting a cat only once you have settled into your new home is also advantageous for you: the fewer changes your new cat experiences in the settling-in period, the better in terms of making him or her feel at ease and becoming friendly with you.

Q: I live in a small flat. Can I still adopt a cat?

A: Yes, but you need to take a few things into consideration. First of all, a small studio apartment is not a suitable environment for multiple cats, so your best option is to adopt a cat that is happy as an only pet. Secondly we advise that you consider the temperament and age of the cat carefully. An adult/ senior cat that has a calm temperament will more likely be content in a smaller living space as long as it’s properly “catified” with different climbing options, cat trees, window seats and hiding places.

Please bear in mind that having a cat in a small flat means that you as its owner need to make an extra effort in activating your cat in order to prevent it from becoming bored and depressed.

Q: Many of the Rekku Rescue cats need homes with previous experience in socialising timid cats. What does this mean and how do I know whether I’m a suitable home candidate?

A: Many of the cats that come to Rekku Rescue have little or no previous experience of living as indoor cats and therefore need to be socialised in their foster homes. Any cat can be timid and shy at times; for example when meeting strangers, when their routines change or when experiencing a loud noise. This kind of timidness is however very different from the behaviour of cats that have not been previously socialised. Unsocialised cats may at first be in a constant state of stress and if approached in the wrong way they may become aggressive as a last resort in defending themselves.

Our policy is to rehome cats only once they’ve become relaxed around their foster carer, and can be petted and handled without too much difficulties. However, these cats may still need special attention and continued training in their adoptive homes and that is why we try to carefully place them with owners that have the knowledge and experience required to understand and handle the behaviour of these cats.

We consider a cat experienced owner to be one that has had at least a few previous cats, is confident with interpreting the behaviour and body language of cats, understands cats as a species and is ready, when required, to prioritise the needs of the cat.

Bonus questions:

Q: I’m used to letting my cats go outside. Why doesn’t Rekku Rescue allow this?

A: We adopt out cats only to become indoor cats, with the possibility of supervised outings in a harness and leash or on a glazed or netted balcony.

Domestic cats are not suited for the Finnish climate and cats who spend long periods of time outdoors during winter are likely to get frostbite that can result in the loss of parts of their ears or toes. In addition, letting your cat outside unsupervised is very likely to result in one or more of the following: being hit by a car, being attacked by another animal, exposure to FIV, FELV and other infectious diseases as well as flus, ticks, fleas and intestinal parasites. Your cat can also become lost or injured, get tortured by cruel people or poisoned, for example by human food or pesticides.

Pet owners in Finland are obligated by law to take care of their pets’ health and wellbeing. Letting a pet outside unsupervised and exposing them to the situations listed above means an acknowledged risk on the owner’s part. Having your cat spend time outside unsupervised also means that you will not be able to monitor your cat’s wellbeing as regularly or detect possible signs of illness as well.

A cat can live a full life as an indoor-only cat as long as it is provided with an adequate living environment along with lots of versatile activities.

Q: Why is it so difficult to adopt a cat? Isn’t there a cat crisis in Finland?

A: One of our goals at Rekku Rescue is to ensure the wellbeing of the cats and dogs that we adopt out to new homes. Therefore we have an interview process that is designed to make sure each animal is placed with a responsible person prepared to make a lifelong commitment and accommodate the animal’s personality and needs. Even though there are a large number of homeless cats in our country, the solution is not to rehome the cats just anywhere – this would not necessarily result in an improvement in the cats’ lives.

An important part of our adoption process is to match the lifestyle and needs of the adopter with the individual cat. Our adoption team’s first priority is to protect the animal’s best interests and to also avoid a recurrence of the kinds of problems that may have caused the cat to be brought to us in the first place. In the long run this practice is also in the interest of the adopter.

Q: Where can I find help if after adopting from Rekku Rescue we experience problems with our new cat?

A: We are always more than happy to help and answer questions regarding your cat or cats from Rekku Rescue. So if you have any problems, let us know – the sooner the better! Small issues can become big problems as time passes, so it’s always advisable to address problems promptly when they first appear.
Our organisation has a large pool of volunteers, many who have decades of experience on rescue cats, as well as connections to animal healthcare professionals, so we probably have experience dealing with whatever issue you may be facing and can point you in the right direction.

Emmi Räikkönen

Adoption coordinator