“Cats are like potato chips, it’s hard to have just one.”
I have a refrigerator magnet with that phrase, and it still makes me laugh, and it’s still true—especially of me. I’ve rescued and fostered for about 30 years and lived with anywhere from five cats to…well, it all depended on how many rescues came in with kittens, and I always seemed to have a permanent household of nine. But even if you don’t rescue it’s easy to live with more than one cat, and it’s better for each cat’s physical and emotional health.
Statistics from the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey noted that more cats are owned as pets than any other pet—86 million as opposed to 78 million dogs—so plenty of people agree with having more than one cat.
Unfortunately, there always seems to be a big supply of cats to fill the need, and at this time of year more cats than anyone needs. Right now, in the middle of “kitten season” when shelters are overflowing with unexpected and unintended litters of kittens, it’s time to help take the burden off shelters and help get more cats into more homes, hence the celebration of “Adopt-a-Cat-Month”. This year, Adopt-a-Cat-Month is co-sponsored by CATalyst Council, American Humane Association (AHA) and Petfinder.com.
Veterinarians, shelters and rescues all over the country are encouraged to host and promote adoption events focused on finding loving, permanent homes for cats and promoting the proper care of cats.
But this doesn’t mean you should walk in and load up on cats. American Humane Association provides a checklist for adopting a cat for yourself, a member of your family, especially a child, or for another person as a gift.
- If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two.
- Find a cat whose personality complements yours.
- Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption.
- Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home.
- Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat.
- Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives.
- Cat-proof your home.
- Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family.
- Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan.
- If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process.
Kittens or adults, special needs or small rescue?
So if you and your family are ready to adopt your new feline friend or friends, you may be thinking of a couple of cute and playful kittens because shelters are packed full with kittens right now, and that would certainly help reduce the burden on the shelter and increase adoption chances for other pets in the shelter.
Look at Peaches and Cream, above—could you pass up two cats who were so beautiful, even though they were 15 years old? Apparently I couldn’t. Many potential adopters are afraid of the pain of loss when considering pets in their teens and I’ll be the first to admit that losing a cat hurts worse than most things in life, and we did lose Cream after ten months. But Peaches lived to be 20, and she and I savored every day of those five years, and given the choice I would not have missed a moment of our time for any loss.
Consider the adult cats or even the senior kitties in the shelter, with no training needed, ready to come home with you and fit right in. Shelter workers have always noticed that kittens nearly always get adopted while more seasoned, friendly cats sit and wait—and are often euthanized to make space for more kittens. The older a cat is, the less likely it is to be adopted and sadly they’ve already loved and lost a human family. Just as much as you want a kitty to love, they want another chance to love a human.
And in addition to visiting larger shelters, don’t forget the smaller rescues who have often pulled cats from shelters who needed special care, or rescued cats and kittens right off the street, often at their own out-of-pocket expense. Adopting a cat from a smaller rescue makes a huge difference to them.
Can’t adopt? Foster!
If you don’t really want another permanent feline member of your household but have the time and space, offer to foster a mother cat and kittens or an orphaned litter of kittens that’s already in the care of your shelter or a local rescue—they can never have enough volunteers to do this, and it’s the little family’s best chance for a healthy life and adoption after the kittens are weaned.
If you’re not up to feeding kittens or helping a momcat, offer to foster an adult cat or two to open up cage space during this annual parade of mothers and kittens—older cats are often overlooked at this time and cute kittens are adopted instead of the seasoned professional cat. Giving an older cat a temporary home during the busiest season may actually save its life. And black cats are the last ones adopted, partly just because tabbies and calicoes catch our eye more quickly. Take home a black cat and work on taking some stunning photos to help its chance for adoption.
Fostering also helps other cats in shelters who are traumatized by the atmosphere and need to calm down, those who have been there a while and need a cage break, or cats who are ill and need a greater level of care than the shelter can offer. When it’s all done, you can speak for the personality of that cat and know that cats who were fostered have a better chance at adoption from a shelter. Read about one person local to me who fosters cats for local rescues, and read about Odilia who, though blind, was fostered by another long-term rescuer.
Can’t adopt or foster? Donate or volunteer.
If you have no room for another cat, you can volunteer at a shelter or with a rescue, or donate food or formula or just cash—raising kittens is expensive, even for a large shelter. You can also check for your shelter’s “wish list” of goods and services they’d love to have donated, often including things like office furniture or electronics you may have and not need. In any case, you will save lives, and make a huge difference at a time when it’s needed most.
And don’t forget to spay and neuter, and encourage others too!
One of the reasons there are so many cats and kittens is that people don’t spay or neuter their cats before they are ready to reproduce, which can happen surprisingly early, as early as four months of age if the season is right. Many shelters practice pediatric spay and neuter where kittens only need to be at least two months and weigh at least two pounds for the surgery and they are not even available for adoption until they are “fixed”.
Not only does this eliminate the need to worry about catching your cat if it goes into heat or starts spraying, it also eliminates the chance of common reproductive diseases and cancers as well as reduces the chances of feline mammary cancer to nearly nothing. Spaying later has much less effect, or none at all depending on the age of the cat. If your cat is already spayed or neutered, sponsor the surgery for another cat.
Shelter deals on June kitties
Each year many shelters and rescues have caT adoption specials, often adopting two cats for the price of one, or free adoptions over the age of two, to give potential homes the incentive to adopt another cat or two, and save a few more lives. Check with your local shelter. I’ll be posting the local ones as they arise.
Many shelters and clinics also have low-cost spay and neuter opportunities in June as part of the adoption deals.
So this month, consider adding a new feline household member, possibly your new best friend!
And you see the logo below, or one like it, at the bottom of nearly every post on this site, and I mean it—click it to find all my posts about cats in small rescues, rescued from the streets and fostered out of shelters who are ready to go right home with you!
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
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