June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month. Every spring, shelters and rescue groups brace for onslaught of “kitten season.” In addition to cats who are picked up as strays or surrendered by their owners, unwanted kittens flow into shelters like Noah’s flood. Unfortunately, many shelters become like roach motels. Animals go in but they don’t come out.
Many of the adult cats end up in shelters because of family issues rather than something they’ve done. Owners can no longer care for them because of:
- Unemployment (can’t afford to care for him any longer)
- Moving and can’t (or don’t want to) take the cat with them
- Health problems (owner died, went into nursing care or became incapacitated)
- Lifestyle change (divorce, death, new baby, new boy/girlfriend doesn’t like cats, owner went to college
- Other pets don’t get along with the cat
- Doesn’t have time for a pet
- Abusive person in home
Since many shelter cats were once family members, they’re generally friendly and in good condition.
So this Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month, if you’re thinking about adding a pet to your home, consider these eight reasons to adopt a shelter cat.
1. You become a full-fledged life-saving hero
According to the ASCPA, 3.4 million kitties enter shelters every year and 1.4 of them are euthanized. Adopting a kitty from a shelter definitely saves a life.
2. Actually, you’re saving two lives
With so many people surrendering their cats, shelters are often forced to euthanize animals in order to make space for incoming pets. So when you adopt a shelter cat, not only are you saving your new pet, you’re making space for another homeless cat.
Even if you adopt from a no-kill rescue, you’re still helping two cats. No-kill organizations have limited space, but they often pull adoptable kitties from facilities that must euthanize. So, when you take a kitty home, you make cage space available for another cat on death row.
3. It’s the ultimate in recycling
We all want to be environmentally responsible. You carefully sort your newspapers, plastic bottles and aluminum cans so they don’t take up space in the city landfill. By adopting a shelter cat, rather than allowing a life to be simply thrown away, you’re recycling that unwanted life into a happy member of your family.
4. One-stop shopping
Every family has different needs and preferences when it comes to pets. And, as you know, cats come in an endless combination of breeds, shapes and sizes. You could run all over the state trying to meet Mr. Right. Fortunately, animal shelters offer a broad assortment of adoptable kitties with a wide range of personalities, colors and ages, and all under one roof. Instead of wasting gas and energy looking for a pet, go to a shelter to interview a roomful of potential feline family members at once.
5. Shelter staff can help you pick the best cat for your lifestyle
Staff or volunteers know the temperaments and personalities of the cats in their care. Regardless of qualities you want in your new kitty, the people who work at the animal shelter can help you pick the perfect kitty for your family.
Shelter staff can also offer suggestions that will make your cat’s transition into his new home easier for everyone. If there’s an adjustment problem, they will give you advice or take the pet back.
6. You’re getting a bargain
You’ve heard the saying, “There ain’t no free lunch”? I promise you, “There ain’t no free cat” either. You may wonder why you should pay $50 to $150 to get a cat from a shelter when you can get a free kitty from someone in the Walmart parking lot? That “free” cat will need a feline leukemia test, microchip, vaccinations, de-worming and you’ll need to him or her fixed. The same is true for animals purchased from a pet shop or a breeder. (I’m not talking about adoption events held inside Petco, PetSmart and other pet supply stores. I’m talking about pet shops that sell animals for profit.) The spay/neuter surgery alone can easily exceed $150.
Shelters usually alter their pets before they go to their new homes or give you a certificate for low-cost surgery. Shelters get veterinary services at a greatly reduced rate, so most of the animals have been fully vetted, including vaccinations, worming and maybe a microchip. The organizations frequently spend more resolving health issues than they receive from the adoption fee. (Rescue is NOT a money-making endeavor.)
7. You’re not contribution to the endless stream of unwanted animals
Because you’re adopting a fixed cat from a shelter rather than a breeder, you’re reducing, rather than contributing to pet overpopulation.
8. Shelter animals are grateful
Stray cats live a hard life. They’re hungry and fearful that everything is out to eat them. When you take in an adult stray they seem to know that you have helped them, and they appreciate your affection and a full food bowl.
So next time you want to add a new fur child to the family, think “shelter cat.” It’s the heroic, responsible thing to do.