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Thoughts on Adoption

Three Advantages    •    Adoption Fee    •    Share Your Life    •    I’m Ready!     •     Maybe You're Not Ready    •    Responsible Caregivers    •    Introducing Your New Cat to...    •    Adoption Links


Why Adopt?

Photo: Amelia the kitten

If you’re thinking of adding an animal to your household, please consider adopting one. Some of the animals we foster have survived trauma, abuse, or neglect, and desperately need a home where they’ll be loved and appreciated. Even though we no longer have our own foster animals to adopt out, we think information about adoption is important to share. Here's how our program worked.

Visit our Meet the Animals page.

•  One of the advantages of our in-home FosterCare Program is that we live with our animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’ve seen them at their best and worst. We understand that each animal is an individual with a unique combination of attributes and needs.

•  Another advantage of our program is that each animal’s health has been evaluated. Our cats have been screened for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Our dogs have been screened for heartworms. Everyone gets screened for internal parasites and treated, if necessary. Cats and dogs are current on vaccinations, and spay/neutered according to age.

•  A third advantage is that each animal comes with a coupon for a free Getting to Know You Animal Communication Consultation with local animal communicator, Sondy Kaska, who is also a JCHS member. Helping your new companion adjust to a new home is in everyone’s best interest.

Although exploring a new home, getting to know a new human, or becoming friends with other animals are exciting, even positive changes produces stress. Learning about your animal companion’s fears, concerns, and past experiences paves a smoother transition for all.

Adoption Fee

Our adoption fee was $120 per animal. This amount can be reduced under certain circumstances which were evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Above and beyond what it costs to keep them in our homes, on average, each foster animal incurs about $140-worth of veterinary care (viral screening, parasite screening/treatment, vaccinations, spay/neuter, etc.). Adoption fees offset our veterinary bills. For us to continue providing first-rate animal care as a nonprofit organization, we depend entirely upon public support.

Graphic:  Four kittens in a basket.

Ready to Share Your Life?

Photo: Izzie the cat.

If you are considering acquiring a companion animal, ask yourself the following questions:

•  Does your lease or housing situation legally allow you to keep a pet?

•  Will someone be home to provide meals for the animal according to a fixed schedule?

•  Is every member of your household in agreement about acquiring a companion animal?

•  Does (or will) your own schedule allow ample time to look after the animal, train him appropriately, and consistently provide the loving attention he requires?

•  If you’re considering a puppy or a kitten, are you prepared to spend the time it takes to learn about and apply the appropriate age-specific methods of socializing and training the animal requires before she reaches adolescence?

•  Will you be able to pay for the food and pet-care supplies the animal will need in maintenance of his well-being?

•  Are you willing and able to pay for all inoculations, periodic veterinary examinations, and any emergency treatment which the animal will need?

•   If you’re considering a dog, are you willing to exercise her at least twice a day, according to a set schedule?

•  Are you willing to obey the local community leash, licensing, and poop-scooping laws?

•  Are you willing and able to pay for the cost of spaying/neutering the animal to prevent the birth of more animals in a nation where millions of healthy but unwanted cats and dogs are already being destroyed each year?

•  Are you committed to caring for the animal throughout his entire lifetime (which could easily span 15 years)?

Photo: Ananbel the cat smiling

Yes, I’m Ready!

Could you honestly answer YES to each of the questions above? Then chances are that your lifestyle and level of commitment are such that you could be a responsible caregiver and guardian. But don’t rush right out and get a pet. Give thoughtful consideration to the limits of your living space and your personal preferences as to species, size, gender, age, and attitude.

Once you have an idea about the type and characteristics of the companion you’re looking for:

Here is our Adoption Information form to see what it looks like, but note that we no longer have an adoption program.

The Adoption Information Form is a PDF file.
If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, download it for free.
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Phtot; Elana a deaf cat stretched out on the carpet

Yes, adopting an animal takes time. You want an animal who fits as seamlessly as possible into your family and lifestyle. That’s what we want, too. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be for us to make an appropriate match.

Our goal is to find the best home for each individual animal, based on what we feel is in the best interest of that particular animal.

JCHS is a volunteer organization. Most of our members work outside the home and have their own animals, families, and foster animals to care for on a daily basis.

Attention to detail is one of the reasons why the vast majority of our adoptions are successful. Your patience is appreciated as we review adoption information and do telephone interviews. In addition, we may call references and conduct home visits.

Maybe You Aren’t Ready Yet

If you answered NO to any of the questions, perhaps you aren’t ready. Please put the needs of the animal ahead of your own desires. This may not be the best time in your life to offer a home to a companion animal. Unfortunately, many who give in to the immediate desire to acquire a pet realize too late that they are unable to properly and permanently care for it. This is evidenced in our community by the astonishing number of animals abandoned each year.

In the meantime, if you’d like to have the opportunity to interact with and learn more about animals and responsible guardianship, consider joining the Johnson County Humane Society or volunteering your time and services to helping animals at the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center (356-5295).

Graphic:  Spotted dog.

Responsible Caregivers...

•  License their pets!

Here are some reasons why:

The tags are identifiers and are easily traced. A license increases the chances that your animal will be returned if lost.

(You’ll wish you had the minute your animal accidentally gets loose.)

If your escapee and ends up at the shelter, your reclaim fee will be higher if your pet doesn’t already have a license.

Since you can’t get a license without a rabies certificate, licensing supports public health—and the revenues help other animals in need.

Photo: Victor Hugo the kitten playing with half an Easter Egg toy



grafic: banner an inside cat is better than a flat cat

•  Maintain the appropriate vaccinations for their pets.

•  Spay/neuter their animals.

•  Keep their companion animals indoors (cats and dogs simply do not get run over on the living room couch!)

•  Obey leash, poop-scooping, and other local animal ordinances.

Introducing Your New Cat to Other...

Graphic: Two cats hugging one another.

If you need to introduce a new animal to other animals, make sure your new animal has been seen by a veterinarian to reduce the risk of transmitting illnesses or parasites to your other animals.

The key to introductions is planning and patience. First impressions are lasting and negative ones take time to neutralize. It’s all about turf. The newbie is suddenly by himself in new territory already inhabited by others. The current residents are suddenly faced with a stranger trespassing in their territory.

Don’t rush things! Your job is to manipulate the physical environment to ensure everyone’s safety. The outcome of this process is dependent upon the temperament and ages of the animals involved and your levels of patience and consistency. It may take several weeks to a month for everyone to feel comfortable. Do not give up, and don’t lose your cool.

In very, very rare cases, you can simply let them work things out, and after a week or so, things are fine. However, most introductions require more time and are a process that has to be worked through. The following procedure has worked well for us:

•  Rub the animals (newcomer/s and existing residents) down with a washcloth soaked in cider vinegar. This will make everybody smell the same.

•  Put the new cat in her own room, with her own litter box and dishes. (Adding a screened door to the room is a great short cut.) After a day or so of this, put the new cat in her carrier, take her out of the room and let the original pet/s smell and explore the room thoroughly. Put the new cat back in. Keep repeating until the original animals no longer excitedly sniff or hiss at everything.

•  Bring the new cat out (in her carrier) to meet the original pet/s under close supervision. There’s bound to be some hissing, maybe even spitting. Don’t chastise anyone for this—it’s normal behavior among cats who are re-figuring their hierarchy. Try to end these sessions on a quiet, positive note. Keep repeating this until the hissing stops.


Photo: Canyon the cat in a basket
Grafix: two kittens in ribbons

•  Feed the new cat (in her carrier) about five feet from where the other animals eat. Keep moving her carrier closer and closer.

•  Sit quietly with your new cat on your bed, leaving the door open to the other animals. Have the new cat’s carrier and a big towel (to throw at or envelope someone) close at hand. (Know that where you sleep is a special/sacred place to your animals because when asleep, you are vulnerable.) The first time, just sit quietly for about five minutes and then return the new cat to her room. Keep repeating.

•  By now your animals should be ready to be loose in the same room together under close supervision (have that towel handy). Keep them separated while you are not supervising until you’re certain they get along and everyone has a safe “retreat” somewhere.

The length of time and amount of supervision required can be modified as you discover how the animals react to one another. Some forms of cat interaction or play can appear hostile but in reality, are not.

According to humane society studies, these are some combinations of animals that tend to work well:

•  two cats

•  two kittens

•  a pair of mature neutered animals

•  two dogs

•  puppies

•  an older kitten and a puppy

Photo: 3 Border Collie pups.
Photo: tiny Amelia the kitten with Sam the big guy

Introducing a very young animal to a household with an elderly animal already present can be stressful to the older animal. The best way to handle this is to make sure the older animal does not feel threatened by the newcomer. Lavish attention on the older animal, not the newcomer. Make sure the older animal has a cozy place to retreat to, and undisturbed time to eat and relieve herself.

A puppy introduced to a cat will quickly view her as another sort of dog and leave her alone or, more often, want to play with her. The cat will view the dog as a nuisance for some time, but will eventually learn to ignore him or even to play with him.

Introducing a kitten to an older dog will depend on the dog’s temperament. Many dogs are good with cats, such as Labs or Newfies, and will present few problems. Dogs with high prey drives need to be taught to leave the kitten alone.


Soon enough, the kitten will be able to get up out of the dog’s reach when he wants to be left alone. Providing the cat with a place the dog can’t get to is always helpful.

Place a childproof gate in the door of a room high enough for the cat to get under but not for the dog.

Trim the cat’s claws to minimize damage to the dog’s nose.

Grafix: a square of Laurel Burch fabric with jewel-toned cats

Adoption Links

Caring for Your New Cat is a PDF file.
If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, download it for free.
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Caring for Your New Cat—Johnson County Humane Society

Hugs Societythe Worldwide Animal Shelter Directory

Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center

Petfinder’s Shelter & Rescue Groups

Witty Kitties—a local shelter for special-needs cats and exotic reptiles

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JCHS Booklists

JCHS Booklist—Pet Names

Last update: 12/02/19.1037pm


Contact Us at

JCHS  •  P.O. BOX 2775  •  IOWA CITY, IA  52244-2775

NOTE that we are a small group of volunteers, most of whom work during the day. We will get back to you as soon as we can.



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