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Rescuing and adopting a cat

Adopting a rescue cat or a kitten can provide a cat in need with a forever home. Discover everything you need to know about adopting a cat with our helpful guide.

Adopting a rescue cat

Approximately 20,000 cats are rescued every year, and around 24% are adopted from a UK rehoming charity. Whether you already have a feline friend, or are looking to expand your cat family, adoption is a great option with so many cats needing rescued.

If you’ve always wanted a furry companion, adopting a rescue cat or a kitten means you can provide a cat in need with a new start in life. Many cats have been abandoned, harmed, or had owners that were no longer able to care for them. Adoption can give them a second chance at finding a loving home.

Adopting a rescue cat is rewarding but is also a lifetime commitment that you’ll need to be prepared for. Read on to discover how to rescue a cat and what you’ll need to know before bringing a cat home.

Rescuing a cat: the process

1. Search for cats available for adoption

The first step to finding your new cat is locating a reputable shelter or charity. Cats Protection, Blue Cross and RSCA are all good places to start. You can also search for your local rescue centres online. From there, you can check if they are an indoor or outdoor cat, whether they can live with other animals, and more.

2. Fill in a homing questionnaire

Once you’ve found your furry friend, you will be required to fill in an application form – also known as a Homing Questionnaire – and send it to the relevant centre for a cat-matching process. They’ll let you know whether you’re a successful match and answer any questions you might have. Be prepared - as some centres may ask for you to send photos of your home along with the application.

3. Visit the centre

It’s time to meet your new best friend. If your application is accepted, you’ll be asked to arrange an appointment at the centre to visit your new potential cat. Consider bringing someone along – like a family member, housemate or friend – to meet the new addition to your home. This also helps to rule out any allergies.

4. Set up a home visit

The centre will then arrange a home visit so that they can give you tips on things to think about before your rescue cat comes home. They can advise on how to create a nice environment, the right food to get and toys they might like. Plus, they will give any tips you may need on caring for your cat to keep them safe and happy.

How to settle a rescue cat into a new home

When you bring your new feline friend home it’s important to make sure you have everything they need ready so they can settle right in. A few key things to have organised include:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Food
  • Bed
  • Scratching post
  • Toys
  • Litter tray
  • Collar with their name tag on

Once you’ve got the essentials you need to work on creating the right calming environment for them to come home to.

Create safe spaces

Providing your cat with a few different places to hide around your home is key. From somewhere for them to snuggle up, to igloos and cosy blankets, there are plenty of things you can buy to help make sure they have safe places to call their own.

Find a place for their litter tray

This will need to be kept away from their food and water and be somewhere separate to where they sleep. Be sure to think about the fact that they can sometimes get a bit smelly so you might want to keep it in a place like the utility or conservatory out of the way.

Escape proof your house

The centre will advise you on specifically how long you need to keep your cat inside for once you bring them home, but usually it can be about two weeks. During this time be careful when opening and closing doors and make sure windows can’t be pushed open. Cats who are scared or nervous when settling into a new environment might bolt and try to escape.

Tips and tricks for helping your rescue cat settle in

  • A lot of rescue cats can find their first few days in a new home a bit overwhelming. Be sure to give them time and space to settle in properly. While you might be super excited to show off your new cat to friends and family it can be a good idea to let your cat adjust to their surroundings and get confident with you before inviting them round to meet him or her. 
  • Always bend down to your cat’s level too and be sure to let them come to you, rather than the other way around. If you call their name softly and put out your hand, you’ll be able to slowly build a relationship with them. 
  • Remember that different breeds of cats all have their own individual quirks and personality traits so it’s important to read up on them first. Visit our cat breed guides to learn more about your new furry friend before you bring them home. 

Does pet insurance cover rescued and adopted cats?

Yes, Sainsbury’s Bank cat insurance covers all types of cats until they are ten years old. Pet insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

Frequently asked questions 

How long does it take for a rescue cat to settle in?

It all depends on your cat’s individual personality type. Some cats may feel right at home in just a few hours, whereas other cats may take weeks or even months to relax.

Is it a good idea to get a rescue cat?

Getting a rescue cat can be a really rewarding experience for you and your family. But, be prepared that it can also be a challenge if your cat has certain behaviours or characteristics they have picked up with previous owners or on the streets.  

Can rescue cats be indoor cats?

Yes, a lot of adoption centres will have a mix of both indoor and outdoor cats available for adoption. Usually you can opt for which type you would prefer on the application form you fill out.


*Guaranteed discount for Nectar members: The discount is based on information related to you and the transactions you've made with Sainsbury's supermarkets and Sainsbury's Bank using your Nectar card. For more information go to