It’s NATIONAL CAT DAY! Technically, this is my “Writing Wednesday” blog, but I co-opted it for the holiday!
My senior girls, adopted from Sarasota County Animal Services!
Plenty of amazing cats, like mine, are languishing in shelters, waiting for a forever home with a loving family! Black cats are the hardest to adopt out, for some silly superstitious reason. I know my black cat is completely awesome!
Here’s some tips to help you find, and live with, the cat(s) of your dreams!
1. That cute little kitten may not be the best choice for you and your lifestyle. Kittens are cute, but they can be very mischievous and rambunctious, and can definitely make your life a little more chaotic. I, for one, much prefer older cats (with the right care, cats can live into their late teens/early twenties) as they are more settled and calm. Older cats are already established in their behavior–what you see is usually what you get, and they are often less maintenance. Even cats as old as mine (14+) can still be playful and quirky. The staff at the shelter can help you find the right cat for your lifestyle.
2. Adopt a pair of cats–giving them more stimulation and companionship when you’re not there. True, cats don’t always mesh well together, but most shelters usually know, and post, whether the cat you are looking for should be the lone cat in a household, or other things, like if the cat is good with children.
3. Be patient. Cats might take a while to adapt to their new environment, and may take some extra work on your part to help make their environment more comfortable for them. Just because they evidence some negative behavior in the beginning does not mean that the situation is hopeless and that the only solution is take the cat back to the shelter. The shelter, animal behaviorists, and even your vet (if it’s a good one) will have advice on how to help the cat make the transition from the shelter to its new home. (Just found this great article: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/cat-thinks-youre-huge-unpredictable-ape/?mbid=synd_msntech_social)
4. Keep your cat indoors. While it’s tempting to let your cat run wild and free in nature, it’s not always the best choice. Once they get the taste of the outdoors, it’s a hard habit to break and can create some behavior problems when they come indoors. Plus, cats allowed to roam free face a lot of dangers: getting run over, fleas and parasites, diseases–not to mention the impact they have on the local wildlife. Outdoor cats kill an estimated six million songbirds a year in the US alone. In my town, a lot of pets (cats and dogs) routinely disappear. I’ve been told from people in the animal rescue business a couple of accepted theories–that the pets are either taken and sold to nearby labs for animal testing, or, dog fighters pay people to scour neighbourhoods and steal people’s pets (even taking them from fenced yards), which are then used as “bait” animals for their illegal, underground dog fights. They also get into fights with wildlife like raccoons, possums, or other cats that are let out to roam wild by irresponsible owners, which racks up vet bills.
5. Do not have your cat declawed. It’s a cruel surgery that is actually an amputation, and tends to create a whole slew of behavior problems and behavior changes. Imagine if you were getting your nails done at a salon and the staff cut off the top third of your fingers instead of just trimming the nail. There are effective alternative solutions to declawing–ask the shelter and your vet for options.
6. PLEASE make sure you are willing to commit to the long-term responsibility of caring for an animal. My cats require special (i.e. expensive) food, and even routine vet care can get expensive if you aren’t prepared for it. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS! PREVENT OVERPOPULATION of discarded pets.
7. If you can’t adopt an animal, no worries! There are plenty of other ways to help out shelter animals. Many local shelters desperately need volunteers, foster families, and/or donations of supplies, and, yes, of money. Check with your local shelter and animal rescue for ways to get involved.
8. If you are looking for a particular kind of cat, Petfinder (https://www.petfinder.com/) can help you find adoptable animals via their comprehensive database search. Many shelters end up with “breed” cats because the owners have adopted them as a fashion statement and then dump the poor critters when they no longer wanted them. Some shelters may even be willing to bring the cat to you, via a network of volunteer transporters. (Beware of purebred cats from breeders, they may come from the feline equivalent of “puppy mills” and may have lots of health problems due to inbreeding. They may also lack the socialization that many cats benefit from when they are in a shelter or rescue environment. Also, a specific breed may not be an indicator of the cat’s personality, or it may be. For example, Abyssinians may be high energy and get into anything and everything, which may not suit you if you are looking for a cat to curl up on your lap while you read a book or watch TV.) My favourite is the garden-variety domestic shorthair cat (especially black cats), but I would place the emphasis more on personality rather than looks or breed type, when it comes to adopting a cat.
Local links for shelters with adoptable animals in the Sarasota/Bradenton area (and one in North Carolina, just because it’s so damn awesome, and some in New Mexico, where I used to live!):
National Site: https://www.petfinder.com/
Cullowhee, North Carolina (I went to school here–well, when I wasn’t rescuing abandoned animals, with the help of this shelter, and the local animal services):
A couple from New Mexico (Espanola and Santa Fe):
Now, GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN A CAT’S LIFE FOR NATIONAL CAT DAY!