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How Old Do You Need to Be to Adopt a Cat? Everything You Need to Know!

Adopting a cat is a process that involves planning and preparation, as well as the signing of documents. Because of this, most shelters will need you to be either 18 or 21 (the legal age of responsibility) to sign for and adopt a new cat. This helps to show that you are responsible enough and prepared to look after your cat for the whole of its life and can legally sign documentation for insurance and liability purposes.

There are other requirements that you will need to think about when adopting a cat. The shelter will likely walk you through them when you adopt a pet, as most have their own adoption processes.

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What Other Requirements Are Needed When Adopting a Cat?

Apart from being the legal age, most shelters will need proof of certain aspects of your life to ensure you can provide the cat with a good home. For example, checking your income, housing situation (such as if you rent or own) and if you have any dependents, provides shelters with the assurance that you’re a good fit for the cat.

They will most likely want to check the compatibility of the cat you want to adopt with any other pets in your home. Home checks may also be required, as this will determine how suitable the home is for the cat you wish to adopt. This could include cleanliness checks and how other pets in the home are kept.

cat at an animal shelter
Image Credit: JW Design, Shutterstock

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat?

The cost to adopt cats in the US varies and can differ according to the area you live in, the behavior of the cat you want to adopt, the cat’s age, and any history or health problems the cat may have. There’s no blanket answer to this question, but adoption costs usually cover more than the cat itself. Food costs, medication costs, the running of the shelter, and any health procedures carried out on the cat can all factor into the cost of adoption.

Other than adopting for free (which is rare but does happen), the price is between $50 and $200 for one cat. However, even this can vary with breed. If rarer breeds, such as Bengal cats, are up for adoption or if you’re adopting from a breed-specific rescue, the price can be as much as $500.

Why Would I Have to Pay an Adoption Fee?

The adoption fee for your new cat covers more than just the food and care for them. These costs often cover the running cost of the shelter, food and care for the other cats, and any other veterinary costs the shelter might incur.

The adoption fee for one cat could cover the following:
  • Microchipping
  • Parasite control (flea and worming)
  • Blood tests such as FELV testing
  • Food
  • Shelter (including bills)
  • Comfort and the cost of hiring assistants

Shelters can continue to operate because of donations and the costs of adoption.

Can You Adopt a Cat if You Already Own One?

It is possible to adopt a cat if you already own one. However, this depends on your cat’s temperament, and the shelter will check whether or not your cat is used to or can tolerate other cats. Sometimes, they will perform a cat test which is a slow introduction of the new cat to the old one. As cats are generally solitary in nature, many will be happy on their own. But they thrive in groups and bonded pairs, so keeping a cat by itself is not always best.

cat smelling kitten
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

Can I Adopt More Than One Cat?

You certainly can, and sometimes shelters will offer a discount on the adoption fee for bonded pairs or more than two cats adopted at the same time. Of course, the number of cats you can adopt depends on how many cats you already have in the home; the shelter will often consider the cat’s welfare when doing home checks.

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Final Thoughts

Adopting a cat from a shelter is a big decision that takes lots of careful consideration. That is why the minimum age for adoption is usually between 18 and 21 years because legally binding documents must be signed. The shelter does this to ensure that you are legally responsible for your new cat and that the cat will go to a good home. Other factors to consider when adopting include your housing situation and other pets in the home, which a shelter will guide you through as they usually have processes for addressing these issues. Lastly, if you are younger than 18 and still live with your parents, they must agree to adopt and sign the papers themselves on your behalf.

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Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels