Finding Healthy Cats for Adoption

Finding healthy cats for adoption may seem like a daunting task. You might be tempted to take a cat that isn't healthy, out of pity, but consider how expensive this decision will be, not only financially, but emotionally as well. You might also have other pets, who could possibly be infected by a sick cat, or you or your family could be infected. Most reputable shelters ensure that all their cats are healthy before they adopt them out. But, so that you don't leave it to chance, here is how to determine if a cat is healthy before you adopt it.

Things to Look for on the Cat's Head

  1. Check out the ears. A build up of dirt in a cat's ears might be a symptom of ear mites, or an infection. While both of these can usually be fixed, the cat may also have associated hearing difficulty, which would make it a very high maintenance pet. Additionally, if the shelter didn't bother to fix a possibly highly contagious case of ear mites before adopting the cat out, there could be other, much worse things wrong with the cat.
  2. Check out the eyes. If the cat is alert, you should not be able to see its inner eyelid, which tends to partially cover the eye when a cat is distressed or sick. The cat's eyes should be clear and alert, without any clouding. They should also be clear of mucus or discharge.
  3. Check the mouth and nose. The cat should have a clean nose, with no discharge. There should be little or no yellow plaque on its teeth. Its breath should smell meaty, but not foul. Carefully check out the cat's gums as well, as many cats have a genetic tendency towards gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. The gums should be pink, not red.

Other Signs of Illness in a Cat

  1. A cat's coat is an excellent barometer for his overall health. If he has a silky, shiny, well groomed coat, this is a good sign that he is generally healthy. If, however, he has unexplained bald patches, a dull, rough coat, or excess hair falling out, there could be any number of problems, including malnutrition or stress. Fleas are also a bad sign because they often indicate that a cat has worms. 
  2. Unless you have time to wait for the cat to go to its litter box, checking beneath its tail is the best way to tell if it has digestive problems like diarrhea. The area should be clean and free of sores or redness.
  3. Finally, observe the cat as it interacts with you and with other animals in the shelter. This is the best way to ensure your cat will fit in with you and your family as well. It should be friendly and curious, without much fear or aggression, although it may be slightly cautious. It should also be agile, without any trouble balancing or moving around.

There is a lot you can do to make sure your new companion is healthy, before you take him home. Finding a healthy cat for adoption is the safest option for you and your family.