By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliance
Now…the back pedaling commences…I love cats. I really do. I got my first cat when I was six-years old. I just don’t happen to have one at the moment. We lost our last kitty at the ripe old age of 20. She was adopted from a Tennessee shelter when she was almost too tiny to climb into the litterbox on her own. My youngest daughter, who was also quite tiny at the time, chose her from the crowd in the cat room. That same daughter now has a baby of her own. Chloe was there through it all…three teenagers and several cross-country moves.
But, I digress…the reason I have no cat presently stems largely from the fact that two out of three dogs currently living with me are quite predatory. They feel it’s their responsibility to chase any small, furry thing that moves fast. A mountain lion may survive in my house, but I’m not liking the odds for the average Felis catus!
So, back to my roots as a cat lover. When I was six, my mom answered a free-to-good-home ad. When we went to see the kittens they were being proudly displayed to potential adopters – in a trash can. I have often wondered if that experience, that image seared into my six-year-old psyche nearly 50 years ago, is one of the factors that steered me to a life in the field of animal sheltering. That kitty lasted a long time…her ninth life came to a close during my sophomore year in college.
If you are considering adding a feline to your household (and, why wouldn’t you be considering that?), please visit your local animal shelter immediately. Did you know June is national Adopt a Shelter Cat Month?
Why should you adopt from a shelter? I’m so pleased that you asked! Here are my top 3 reasons to adopt a cat from your local shelter:
1) SAVE a LIFE! And, I don’t mean that in a theoretical sense. That statement is meant to be taken literally. Even in communities where shelters have a near 100% success rate at placing healthy, behaviorally sound dogs, most still struggle with the cat numbers. There are lots of reasons for that, but the most significant may be the amazing rate at which cats reproduce. They are extremely resourceful and most manage to find ample food on the streets and safe shelter from the elements and other worldly dangers. And, they are very efficient at reproduction, often bringing two or more litters into the world annually. This brings me to my second point…
2) SPAY or NEUTER ALL CATS! If you adopt from a shelter that is a guarantee. Nearly all shelters these days ensure that all pets are spayed or neutered before they are released to new homes. But, even if you end up choosing another source, please make sure to have this life-saving surgery performed ASAP! In the sheltering world we have a “technical” term we use often…the “OOPS” Factor. “Oops…Fluffy got out of the house just once and now she’s pregnant!” At the risk of lapsing into a basic biology lecture here, it only takes ONCE.
3) ENRICH YOUR OWN LIFE! Cats are amazing companions who will in one moment entertain you like crazy and in the same moment teach you a lesson in humility. Dogs are awesome, but sometimes it pays to have a pet who will remind you that you are not a supreme being and who will completely ignore you when you call her.
Hopefully by now you are convinced that a kitty would make a fantastic addition to your family and you are on your way out the door to make a trip to your local animal shelter to look for a love match. Heck, I’m thinking about it myself. I bet the shelter has one of those tough cats that would simply stare at my dogs with that “I dare you” look. Maybe a cat is exactly what those haughty canines need to take them down a peg. If I don’t want to have their gourmet meal prepared promptly at 6 I shouldn’t have to, right? Never mind. I don’t want to have to sleep with one eye open for the rest of my life!