You thought that you would have the willpower to leave without making a decision to adopt, but one look at her adorably wide eyes and impossibly fluffy tail did you in. Now, you’re in the process of preparing your home for a new feline friend – a move which, if you’re being honest with yourself, you were probably going to make all along. However, the process isn’t as easy as you imagined; the pet aisle at Walmart practically bursts with potential toys and you have no idea of the practical items you’ll need for your kitty. Never fear! This guide will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take before bringing your new cat home.

Do Your Due Diligence

If you plan to adopt a cat, you need to make sure that you have the means to properly care for it. Many would-be adopters are charmed by the playfulness of a kitten and take it home – only to return it a few days later after it throws up on their floor, hides under the bed, and refuses to play with them. Cats require a significant investment of time, money, and love. If you can’t take care of a cat now, wait until you are in a better position to do so! Returning a cat to a shelter is traumatic and stressful for the cat, and will likely disqualify you from adopting in the future.

Do your due diligence! If you rent, check with your landlord to see if you’re permitted to live with cats. Assess your budget; how much will the cat cost each month? Can you afford it? Do you have the time to reliably feed your cats and spend time socializing with them? All of these questions must be answered well before you submit an application for adoption.

Check in With the Current Caretaker

Never be afraid to ask questions! If you’ve never taken care of a cat before or are unfamiliar with what your new kitty might need, the current caretaker is the best resource you have. Interview them! What does the cat eat? Are there any dietary adjustments you’ll need to make for an old or young animal? Does the cat have any current health issues? Who do they see for veterinary care? Have they been neutered, vaccinated, and had their first check ups already, or is that something you’ll need to handle? Make sure that you have all of the cat’s medical records before you leave the shelter or store!

Ready Your Home

Go over your residence with a (metaphorical) fine-tooth comb. Look for any dangerous cables, sharp objects, or open containers that your cat might accidentally hurt themselves investigating. Then, take that trip to Wal-Mart and buy a few cat equipment necessities such as toys, blankets, a covered litter pan and scoop, litter, cat beds, treats, food bowls, food, and scratching posts. If you have the budget for it, consider getting a cat tree! Their tall platforms and posts provide ample entertainment for the cat and lessen their need to scratch at your carpet.

Be Patient

The move from shelter to home might be exciting for you, but it’s terribly stressful for the cat. Don’t worry if he or she hides immediately after coming home; the hiding period is completely normal and will end within a week or two, once your cat has become accustomed to the new sounds and smells. Try not to drag the cat out of her hiding place! Removing her from her safe space will add to her stress and prompt her to find a better-hidden space. Your best bet is to leave your cat where she is and make sure that she has easy access to food and water. When she’s ready, she will come out and meet you.

Enjoy Your Cat

Cats are wonderfully warm companions. It may take some time for your cat to relax in your home, but if you give her the time and space to do so, you’ll undoubtedly set the foundation for a rewarding relationship down the line.