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Adopting a cat? As kitten season nears, here's what to consider

Grace Dickinson, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

When Tozlu entered Old City's Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society center, the long-haired, gray-and-white cat immediately dozed off in the arms of a volunteer. He purred in peace, belly and feet flopped toward the ceiling, warmed by the human body cradling him.

"He's all about the belly rubs," said PAWS adoption counselor Lauren Campagnini. "He knows what it's like out there on the streets, where it's cold and food is hard to come by."

Strays like Tozlu are abundant in the Philadelphia area. And as spring shifts into summer -- prime cat-mating season -- shelters are flooded with newborns. (Cats have a three-month gestation, so kitten season tapers off around October.)

"By July, we'll be swimming in kittens," said PAWS executive director Melissa Levy.

Before adopting, there are a few factors to consider, such as if a cat fits into your lifestyle, whether to get a kitten or an older cat, and how to welcome your new feline to the family.

Consider the commitment -- and the costs

 

When deciding whether to adopt a cat, first and foremost, determine if you're ready to take on a long-term commitment. "A cat can mean 20 years of daily care," Levy said.

While lower-maintenance than most dogs, cats do require socialization, said Morris Animal Refuge director of operations Carolyn Fitzgerald. "Daily petting and playtime is crucial to fostering a happy cat that will engage with your family."

At least 15 minutes of interaction per day is recommended for any cat; some will need more for mental stimulation and energy release, especially in a small apartment.

Cats are relatively budget-friendly. Adoption fees average $50 to $120 per cat, which typically includes spaying or neutering and the first round of vaccines. Sometimes the price also includes a microchip implant. After that, expect to spend $30 to $40 a month on food and litter, at minimum. Don't forget to factor in money for a scratching post and a few toys.

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