Adopt don’t shop for your next feline companion.
So you’re thinking of getting a cat. You’ve looked at photos of sleek Abyssinians, fluffy Persians and round-faced British Shorthairs, and have decided on the cat for you. You’re sure no one in your family is allergic to cats. However, before you visit a breeder and shell out $500 or $1,000 for a purebred kitten, consider the alternatives.
One option is to buy a purebred kitten from a pet store, which is a much cheaper option than buying from a reputable breeder. Don’t even think about it. These animals usually come from kitten mills, where conditions are every bit as ghastly as in puppy mills. In addition, cats who come from mills can have serious behavioral and medical issues later in life since these breeders aren’t concerned with bloodlines or genetics.
The most compassionate and economical option is to adopt a shelter cat. You’ll get a loving companion for a fraction of the cost of a cat from a breeder, and you’ll save a life. Cats are much more likely to die in shelters than dogs. According to the ASPCA, 41 percent of cats entering shelters are euthanized compared to 31 percent of dogs.
Kittens are nearly always available at shelters, and in the spring, there is an overabundance. In fact, June is Adopt a Cat month because so many litters of kittens are brought to shelters then. Kittens are much more active and therefore more trouble than adult cats, so make sure you have time to supervise them closely during their first few weeks with you. The kitten’s adult personality won’t be evident at this age, so you can’t be sure whether you’ll end up with an aloof or an affectionate cat.
Most people coming in to adopt a cat want a kitten, but choosing an adult cat makes a lot of sense. Adult cats’ personalities are known quantities. They have already been spayed or neutered, and any congenital health problems would be evident. They are also less rambunctious and more comfortable being left alone for long periods.
Look for a cat who fits your idea of a good pet. Do you want an independent, self-possessed companion or a cuddly lap cat? Are there other pets in the house or will this be an only cat? Shorthaired cats tend to be more active than longhaired cats, while all that fur requires more frequent grooming.
When assessing a cat’s temperament, remember that the cats you’re seeing in the shelter are under a lot of stress. They are probably frightened, and are often unnerved by overwhelming smells and noises. Longhaired cats are not always properly groomed and can become matted and scruffy-looking. High-strung cats can become depressed or aggressive. These cats are often euthanized due to behavioral problems that would disappear in a loving home.
The shelter staff can be a great resource for learning about the temperament and energy level of each cat. Ask about the cat’s history, how he interacts with people, dogs, and other cats, and if he has any health issues. At a good shelter, the staff will ask you as many questions as you ask them to ensure that you are a good match for the cat you want.
If you must have a purebred cat, they can often be found at shelters. If you can’t find what you want at a shelter, contact a purebred rescue. These organizations rescue abandoned and surrendered purebred cats and find new homes for them. Some rescues are breed-specific, and others handle all breeds. These cats are in no danger of being euthanized and usually spend their time in foster homes, so are not as needy as shelter cats.
If you rescue a shelter cat, you’ll not only enrich your own life by adding a purring, amusing and devoted companion, you’ll change a cat’s life by providing a loving forever home.
About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”