It’s proven in statistics and surveys that, although more cats than dogs are kept as household pets, cats overall get fewer visits to the veterinarian and fewer studies are done on behalf of their physical and emotional health and welfare.
This overall lack of treatment also bears out in lower spay/neuter and adoption rates and, unfortunately, somewhat higher euthanasia rates—and an average of 3,000 kittens born every hour in the United States (more on that later).
The Morris Animal Foundation, in its Happy Healthy Cat Campaign, decided to begin a search for the answer to this lack before the cat is even adopted. They’ve recently completed an online survey of non-cat-owners, asking how likely they would be to adopt a cat and if so, why, and if not, why not.
This would help to focus on two things: finding the most likely adopters of cats, and determining the objections to cat ownership so that education and awareness could help potential feline owners with these issues making adoption more likely and permanent. Theoretically, those homes would be more likely to increase feline health care and the general population of more attentive cat owners would request more studies on feline health. If education could be simply given to the general audience of potential homes and adoption campaigns could be targeted at the audience most likely to adopt it might make all the difference to cats in shelters all over the country.
It’s a little odd for me to think of shelters marketing animals to potential adopters as if they are a product, but when I think of my own appeals for adoption when I’ve got a foster or two this is exactly what I do—think of who is most likely to adopt, contact them, and if they have objections I try to answer those objections. It may not work on the first try but it does eventually find a home for a cat or I’d have several dozen at any given time, and I don’t, I’m very glad to say.
The survey had 1,102 non-cat-owning respondents and had very interesting results. Read them on the Morris Animal Foundation’s “Catitudes” page, and also visit Happy Healthy Cats and the rest of the Morris Animal Foundation’s website which includes information about and funding for cats, dogs, horses, birds, wildlife, fish and probably a few more living creatures. It’s good to know they’re out there working for the good health and welfare of our animal companions.
And what about “3,000 kittens born every hour in the United States…”? At the Cat Writer’s Association’s annual writing awards banquet in November, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, who many people know from Animal Planet, was our dinner speaker. He’s also a stand-up comedian and while keeping us hooting with laughter at his stories and jokes he also got his point across about animal welfare, and we all grew quiet upon hearing this phrase in his monologue.
Dr. Fitzgerald is also a practicing veterinarian in Denver, and is both likely to know this fact through his practice, and is also unlikely to exaggerate and chance having his opinions questioned. He also performed in a benefit for MEOW Cat Rescue in Kirkland is quoted in this article in the Kirkland Reporter, which also contains much of the same information he offered at the Cat Writer’s dinner.