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Adult cats are available for adoption for many reasons, for example, the owners moved or died, allergies, and for other silly reasons. Even pedigreed cats may be available, either from breeders trying to sell of unneeded stock or owners who can no longer care for their pets.
Many of these unfortunate cats are wonderful pets and should be considered for adoption, as long as the cat or kitten is healthy and does not have any cat behavior problems, such as agression or litter box avoidance.
If possible, take the adult cat into a quiet room, away from the cages in the shelter, or away from the cats previous family. Then sit with her quietly so you can get to know her. You are looking for an outgoing cat who responds readily to your attention, and is calm and relaxed in your presence.