Cats are so common in Singapore that we sometimes have this impression that if you want to adopt a cat, you can easily capture a stray.
While it is true that stray cats roam our void decks, many of them are happy in the communities where they are. If you are a first-timer adopter like I was, it is better to adopt a cat who has already gotten used to human contact.
The best places to look are adoption drives and boards. Here is a step-by-step process on how to adopt a cat, based on my experience here in Singapore.
1st step: Browse cat adoption pages
As a clueless non-cat owner, the first thing I did was to Google, of course. I landed myself on Cat Welfare Society‘s page and started to browse. They’re the largest adoption page in Singapore.
While browsing, I found myself being drawn to Tuxedo cats. Also, I knew black cats have a harder time getting adopted, so I decided that we would adopt a black or Tuxedo cat.
I contacted a few fosterers to check on the availability of the cats listed. Most, if not all, of the cats listed on adoption pages are temporarily being cared for at cat fosterers’ homes.
Usually, to filter out the sincere adopters, rescuers/fosterers will get interested parties to fill in an adoption questionnaire. You will be asked questions such as:
- Do you own the home you are living in?
- Will you mesh up your house?
- Will you bring the cats for sterilisation when it is time?
- Do you have other pets?
- Do you have skin allergies?
- Your occupation, some go as far as asking how much you will budget for the cats per month
Some of the questions are a little personal, but for good reasons. Cat ownership is not just about rainbows, butterflies and cute Instagram posts.
You will get those, but remember that the lifespan of a cat is close to 20 years. It means that if you adopt a kitten, that’s close to 20 years of buying cat food and litter, cleaning poop and pee, bringing it to the vet when it’s sick, cutting cat nails, and bathing a aquaphobic animal!
Although I was already a pet owner before, filling up the form reminded me to consider these factors again.
Other places where you can enquire about adopting a cat include SPCA and the Love Kuching Project.
2nd step: Visit the cats at fosterers’ homes
After you “pass” the questionnaire and the rescuers and fosterers deem you fit to own a cat, the next step is to visit.
We visited 2 black 5-month-old kittens first. They were so skittish and afraid of us that we didn’t even get close. It doesn’t mean cats can’t warm up to humans after a while, but we didn’t feel right with those two beautiful Tuxedos. So, we didn’t go ahead with them.
Then, my brother-in-law sent me a picture of 3 white kittens. Though I was sure that we wouldn’t adopt white kittens, I decided to go check it out anyway.
It was at this home where I met Fi. At that time, she was about 2 months old and immediately, she came straight to me.
She was the most curious out of the litter, which was affectionately called Shrek Kittens by their rescuers. Fiona, Gingy and Donkey.
Gingy and Donkey were super cute and really handsome. But Fi was the most curious one. She came to me first, and it felt like she chose me.
On our second visit, Fiona quickly nestled into John’s lap and won his heart too, whereas her brothers were too busy playing non-stop.
The rescuer and fosterer encouraged us to adopt 2 kittens for them to socialise each other. After considering our finances and obligations, it looked likely that we would adopt Fiona and one of her brothers.
That was before I saw “Morty” on the CWS adoption page. His all-serious little face cracked me up because he had this bowl-cut black mark. I thought this guy is going to be so popular and he probably had a long queue of potential adopters.
Our first visit with Bo (Morty) was at an adoption drive.
Adoption drives are important to showcase the cats that are on adoption, but that day, it was really hot so Bo (Morty) was panting like crazy and not in his natural behaviour. I didn’t stay long, the day was too hot even for us humans. Soon later, we visited him at his fosterer’s home.
If you want to adopt a cat and already have your eyes set on one, I recommend to visit the fosterer’s home directly.
Immediately we noticed that Bo had a very outgoing personality. As compared to Fi, he was less skittish and very willing to play.
3rd step: Get advice from experienced cat lovers before adopting a cat
Being total noobs, I asked the fosterers many questions. They were the ones who told me that kittens would socialise better if adopted in a pair. Although unthinkable then, we’re so glad to have heeded the advice. It made our lives easier later on as the cats had each other as playmates.
Once we’ve decided to adopt Fiona and Morty, we told the two different fosterers and they were so nice. They cooperated with each other to make the process smooth for us.
First, Fi was transferred to Bo’s fosterer’s home.
Their first meeting was not all nice and dandy. Fi said goodbye to her brothers, and Bo suddenly had to contend with a newcomer in his territory. They were allowed to socialise with each other while we prepared the home for about 1 week.
In that time, we received updates from the fosterer on how the kittens were warming up to each other. Perhaps it was because they were young and adaptable, it didn’t take them longer than 2-3 days to start chasing each other around.
4th step: Preparing the home with cat meshing, cat food and litter
Once cats are raised indoors, the responsible thing to do would be to do the necessary meshing so that the cats could be kept indoors for their safety.
On adoption pages you would also see this phrase in almost all the listings: “CWS guidelines apply and meshing is compulsory.”
Many apartments in Singapore are in high-rise buildings, so the risks of cats/kittens falling to their death are high. Kittens are the most high-risk ones because they’re curious and small enough to squeeze through grilles.
For us, we installed invisible grilles, ordered a cat mesh netting from a Carousell seller and DIYed our cat meshing with hooks.
I also ordered litter and cat food (wet and dry) to make sure that the home was cat-ready.
5th step: Re-homing kittens: Transfer and settling in
Finally, after all the preparation, on 24 July 2019, we transferred the kittens from the fosterer’s home to our home. For the time being, they were kept in the study.
The fosterers of Morty/Bo came over to hand over medications, vaccination cards, and PurelyAdoptions also gave us a goodie bag.
I passed them the adoption fees after everything was done. Fi’s was $50 while Bo’s was $100. It’s different because each rescuer/fosterer can charge different rates, based on how long they had them, the food and litter costs as well as the medical costs of vaccinating them.
Given that Bo was vaccinated twice already, it kind of made sense to me that Bo’s adoption fee was higher.
My daughter, S, loved playing with them but it was not only limited to that. There was chasing, hitting and terrorising because it was a novel thing to have two moving kittens running around.
But now, 3 months later, she has gotten used to their presence and pays them less attention. Once in a while, I still have to discipline her when she runs after them or hits them though. But the cats are teaching her plenty of lessons too.
The two kittens entertain each other constantly. If one of them is bored, it’ll go to the other for a round of chase.
6th step: Vaccinations, deworming and sterilisation
Morty/Bo had 2 shots done while Fi had none, so we needed to continue bringing the cats to the vet for deworming and cat vaccinations.
Since Morty went to Oasis Vet, we continued to go there. All was fine, until 3 weeks in.
Morty’s fosterer came to visit and it was during that time when she pointed out to me that Morty/Bo had signs of ringworm infection.
We suspected that he got it from Fi, because she was covered in ringworm. Her fur and body showed no signs, but perhaps she grew immune to it.
It took about 4 weeks of anti-fungal medications, several rounds of bathing both cats (which they HATE), and 4-5 rounds of vet visits before the cats were vaccinated, de-wormed and cleared of ringworm.
We also waited until Bo was 2+ kg to bring him in for his sterilisation. Fi’s followed a month later.
7th step: Build cat trees, get cat toys and treats
Well, this step is totally optional, but I think it enriches the life of indoor cats. They face fewer threats and uncertainties than outdoor cats, so they can easily get bored, dull and, sometimes, fat.
We’re quite modest in the sense that we don’t routinely buy toys. But I did get them a cat tree and a hammock for them to indulge their natural behaviour of being perched on top of things.
And here’s ending off with a hilarious photo of Fi sleeping with abandon on her cat tree.
As a dog person, I’ve always found cats to be aloof and unloving but after adopting Fi and Bo (Morty), I must say the two furballs totally changed my impression.
They do have “resting bitch” faces and sometimes their slitted eyes can look scary. But they definitely do come to you when they want cuddles and I’ve seen them communicate with me when they need something.
So if you’re looking for a pet to adopt, don’t rule out cats!
If you’re unsure, some fosterers also allow a home trial, where you can keep the cats for about 2 weeks to see how it goes before confirming the adoption. Happy looking!
How to adopt a cat in Singapore: FAQs
1. Do you have to pay to adopt a cat?
Yes, however, adoption fees only cover part of the expenses during the time the fosterers took care of them. They could never compensate fully, so don’t be difficult about cat adoption fees.
2. What to do when adopting a cat with cat flu, or any other types of diseases.
The basic thing you must do is to bring the cat for vet checks and follow the instructions to medicate and clean the cat thoroughly. If you have other resident cats, you must not let the newcomer mix with them yet, as cat flu is contagious among cats.
For our case, we inherited a ringworm problem. We consulted our vet and the instruction was to pop meds, vaccuum and mop every day. As toddlers are at higher risk of getting ringworm, we made sure our toddler didn’t go near the cats for at least 1 month.
3. How long does it take to adopt a cat?
Based on our experience, which is more complicated than average, it took 3+ weeks.
We started our journey on 30 June and finally transferred the cats on 24 July.
If you’re adopting a single cat and your home is cat-ready, it could potentially be as short as a week or two, depending on the fosterer and rescuers.
If you have any questions about my adoption journey, comment below and I’ll get back to you within a few days. 🙂