There isn’t anything much more heart-wrenching than a cat who has ended up in rescue or a shelter through no fault of his own. It’s especially difficult to turn away from those who have medical issues but, nonetheless, deserve a loving home that will be willing to care for them through thick and thin. If you are considering adopting a cat with a medical condition there are many important things to consider.
How Serious is the Health Issue?
Cats are prone to a number of medical problems. Some of them are a relatively simple fix, while others require ongoing vigilance and care.
Ridding a cat of something like internal parasite or ringworm is a fairly simple situation. Upper respiratory infection (a cat cold/flu), fleas, ticks, lice and mites might take more effort and be a little more expensive. And there are, of course, tougher medical situations that may present in some shelter cats: feline leukemia (FeLV), diabetes, and being prone to urinary crystals, are but a few, and are sometimes found in shelter cats.
It’s a good idea to make a list of questions about the cat you are considering and put them to the cat’s caretakers so that you have a good idea of the weight and financial cost of the medical issue(s) that you may have to deal with.
If it’s as simple as the need for a special diet or a one-time dose of antibiotics, you probably won’t be put off. But if ongoing veterinary bills would be in your future, that’s a whole different scenario. You may be able to obtain some financial help with vet bills through the adoption agency, but this is never a ‘given.’ Be sure to ask early-on if this is a possibility.
If you do decide to adopt a cat with medical issues it’s a good idea to arrange a check-up appointment with your vet once your new friend has had a chance to settle into your home.
Lifestyle Changes May Be Required
Depending on the level of care required by your new addition, you may need to make changes to your own lifestyle. Be sure to consider this aspect prior to making a commitment. Medication schedules may necessitate careful scheduling of social and family activities.
Will Your New Cat Fit in at Your Home?
Taking on an animal with medical issues signals a big change for family and other pets in the household. Is everyone on board, and will your other pets accept a newcomer who may not be as social or playful as they are?
Depending on the medical issue that your new feline companion has, you need to consider whether your physical surroundings will actually work for him or her. A cat with severe physical disabilities may have trouble, for instance, doing stairs.
If there are other pets in the house it’s a good idea for the first week or so to set up a ‘safe room’ for your new cat. Make sure that he has the essentials – food, water, litterbox, bed and a few toys – to help him settle into his physical surroundings prior to meeting the other pets in the household.
Do You Have a Reliable Pet Sitter?
Boarding facilities generally do not take on clients with complex care needs. Add to that the fact that a boarding situation may well stress your medically-fragile cat and exacerbate his health issues, and you are facing a bit of a conundrum. Before you commit to a cat with health issues that require special care and attention, give some thought to who will look after him properly if you and your family want to go on vacation. Animals with medical issues can tie you down if you can’t find the proper caregiver, so this aspect needs very careful consideration.
What is the Cat’s Expected Lifespan?
If you are thinking about adopting a young cat give serious thought to how your own life might change over his lifespan. Will you be able and willing to accommodate his needs?
All of these considerations are important and will lead you to an informed decision as to whether a cat with medical issues is right for you. While caring for a pet with health concerns can be demanding, it can also prove to be one of the most rewarding experiences possible.
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