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Adoption Policies

We’re here to help guide you in choosing a wonderful new feline companion!

CAT believes that cats and people deserve to be happy and healthy together. We strive to facilitate successful, joyful adoptions for felines and humans alike. And in over 25 years of experience and 60,000 adoptions, we’ve learned a thing or two about making good matches! To support both people and pets in a successful adoption, we adopt according to the policies outlined below.

If you have questions, need clarification, or want more details about any of these policies, we invite you to reach out and talk with us!

Age of Adopters
Adopters must be 18 years or older.

In-Person Pick-Ups (Sorry, no shipping.)
Whether adopted in-person or through the online application process, all adopted cats and kittens must be picked up in-person by their adopter. We do not offer shipping of cats or kittens for adoption.

First-Come, First-Serve
All adoptions are considered on a first-come, first-serve basis, both in person and online. Online applications for foster animals or those housed at other offsite locations are reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis and potential adopters are contacted in order.

Same-Day Adoptions
Most cats can go home the same day they are adopted, so plan on making any necessary preparations in advance — and know that we do have pet supplies for sale in our retail shop! Unless the cat/kitten is only available for pre-adoption, we ask that you take your new cat home right away so that we have space for the next kitty waiting for our help.

24-Hour Holds
Once you have met a cat at the shelter, you can place them on a 24-hour hold (except during some special events) for a small, nonrefundable hold fee. This is a good option if you would like to bring back the rest of your family for a meet-and-greet or need a little extra time to think about your decision. Holds are not available for cats and kittens at offsite adoption centers or in foster care.

Indoor Homes
Because cats live much longer, safer lives indoors, CAT adopts primarily to indoor-only homes. To us, “indoor only” means that your cat is not left unattended or free-roaming outside. Cats who are allowed to roam free face accidents, illness, injury, loss, or theft, and you face unnecessary veterinary expenses, worry, and grief. We absolutely do encourage you to consider catios and other safe outdoor enclosures, harness & leash walking, or use of secure pet strollers. These options will keep your cat and wildlife safe from harm, while providing your feline with the enrichment that the outdoors can provide.

In rare cases — when we believe a particular cat can’t be successful and happy in an indoor home — cats may be approved for an indoor/outdoor home. When adopting such a cat, you’ll go through CAT’s normal adoption process and sign an adoption contract specific to indoor/outdoor situations.

CAT asks adopters not to declaw adopted cats. Your adoption counselor can provide information about the detriments of declawing, humane alternatives, how to properly trim nails, and how to train a cat to use a scratching post. For adopters looking for declawed cats, we sometimes have previously declawed cats at CAT awaiting adoption.

Kitten Adoptions / Pre-Adoptions
All cats and kittens must be spayed or neutered before they can go home with their adopter. Typically, kittens will be about six to eight weeks old before they are ready for spay/neuter surgery.

Kittens age 5 weeks and older may be available for pre-adoption. To pre-adopt a kitten, you will apply online and then complete an adoption counseling session. Pre-adopted kittens remain in CAT’s care until they’re old enough and healthy enough for spay/neuter surgery. Once they have been spayed/neutered, the kitten will be available to go home with the person who pre-adopted them.

FIV-positive Cats
CAT has a small number of FIV-positive cats available for adoption. The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus compromises a cat’s immune system, but FIV-positive cats can live relatively long and healthy lives. FIV is not contagious to other species and is not easily spread between cats. In most cases, FIV-positive cats can live with FIV-negative cats. Read our FIV Handout for more information.

FeLV-positive Cats
CAT occasionally has FeLV-positive cats available for adoption. We believe that cats who are positive for the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) can make excellent companions and deserve opportunities for adoption. However, FeLV weakens a cat’s immune system, and most have a shortened life span (research suggests that over 80% of FeLV-positive cats do not live beyond 4 years after diagnosis). Because FeLV can be transmitted to other cats in the home, CAT only adopts FeLV-positive cats to single-cat homes or homes with other FeLV-positive cats. Read our FeLV Handout for more information.

Renting with Cats
If you rent your home, we ask that you make sure your landlord allows cats and to pay any pet deposits before adopting. Need more information about renting with pets, including emotional support animals? We got you.

Cats as Gifts
CAT has gift certificates available for those wishing to give a gift adoption. Please note that adopters (including at least one adult with whom the cat will live) must meet with an adoption counselor prior to adoption; choosing a cat is a very personal decision and plays an important role in making a lifelong commitment to a new family member.

Adoption Counseling
To finalize your adoption, you’ll attend an adoption counseling session in-person or online. At this session, we’ll provide more information about the cat you plan to adopt and help make sure they’re the right fit for you. We’ll also share general cat care info and discuss our adoption policies. Once the adoption is fully agreed upon, this session ends with signing the adoption contract and paying the adoption fee. (CAT reserves the right to decline an adoption.)

Returning a Cat
We’re here for you and your cat on adoption day — and for all the life events after. Our hope is to make loving, long-term matches, but we recognize that sometimes things don’t go as planned. If you’re experiencing difficulties with a newly adopted cat, please contact your adoption counselor or reach out to us at [email protected] right away for assistance. If you’ve adopted your cat within the past 60 days, you can contact us to schedule a return appointment.

If you schedule an appointment and return a recently adopted cat within 60 days of adoption, you may be eligible to exchange for another cat with an equivalent or lower adoption fee (or you may choose to adopt a cat with a higher adoption fee by paying the difference).

After adoption, we always remain a resource for you. While we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to take in a cat you adopted from us more than 60 days ago, we have many other ways to support you — from help to find low-cost veterinary care to behavior and training support, temporary crisis boarding, and more. Contact us or search for free or low-cost support by zip code at