Think seriously about the commitment you'll be making in taking on a cat. Cats are sentient beings, and a cat deserves to be seen as your family member. Bringing a cat into your home will be a responsibility for the lifetime of the cat, requiring you to provide healthy food, safety, love, companionship, and veterinary care both in good times and in bad.
Adoption is expensive because the process to legally adopt a baby requires the involvement of attorneys, social workers, physicians, government administrators, adoption specialists, counselors and more. While the adoption journey is an emotional one for prospective birth mothers and adoptive families, the adoption process is a legal function. Adoptions completed by fully licensed agencies are held to high ethical standards, which can mean more paperwork and higher costs.
Adoption can be difficult to explain, especially if your child is young. Consider how you feel about adoption and how you would present this to your child. Would you be comfortable answering questions about birth parents? For those who are interested in a transracial adoption, would you be comfortable discussing race with your child and exploring their heritage and birth culture? The topic will come up eventually and you’ll want to be prepared.
There are a number of ways for families to mitigate the cost of adoption, and some adoption professionals are working to make it easier for families to afford. Many of these forms of assistance are via reimbursement after the fact, so there are still plenty of up-front costs. Ellison estimates that adoptive parents "will have to pay 85 percent of the total cost of your adoption. The rest can come from loans, grants, personal fundraising, special events, and other gifts."
Home studies are also required for the second parent in second-parent adoptions, even if both parents have raised the child since birth. Think of it like this: If I'm the biological or gestational mom of our daughter and I'm married to a woman, my wife still has to go through much of the same process to adopt our daughter as a perfect stranger would. So even if our daughter is 5 years old and has lived with both of us that whole time, my wife has to go through a home study and have a background check and have a social worker come to our home, just as she would if she'd never met the child.
Usually, a shelter has already attended to the spay/neuter, the initial shots, and a veterinary clearance exam. If the cat's original situation left it with any medical challenges due to poor nutrition or neglect, these have usually already begun to be addressed by the shelter. You may get to play a final role in nursing your rescue back to full health, creating an initial bond between you both.