Monday, June 9, 2014

National Adopt a Cat Month

Darlene & Aimee

June is National Adopt a Cat month in the United States.  While the hype makes it sound as if everyone should have a cat, it's not quite that simple. There are many questions you need to ask yourself before heading out to a shelter or calling a breed rescue group.  Here are just a few of them:

1. Are you ready for the responsibility? A pet is forever, not until you get bored with her.

2. Can you afford a pet? Are you ready to pay for veterinary bills, including annual check-ups and whatever vaccinations are required as well as food, toys, a solid scratching post and a solid cat tree and litter boxes?

3. If you have children at home are you ready to do the full-time supervision required of having pets and children together? Don't think you're getting the cat or kitten for your child - children can help with age-appropriate chores but you will have to be fully responsible for the cat.

4. Are you willing to assume the responsibility for keeping your kitten/cat indoors and providing environmental enrichment for the cat's entire life?

Photo of Alana by Claire Clayton

5. Are you aware that cats are independent hunters but not independent pets? They require all of the interaction that a dog would require including playtimes each day. Yes, that is plural! You can train your cat using positive reinforcement which will be fun and interesting for you and your pet. Will you take the time to do it?

6. Are you willing to kitten and cat-proof your home just as you would for a baby or small child? Cats and kittens are just as capable of getting into trouble by chewing on electric cords (electrocution and/or burns), picking up small toys left on the floor and other items they can swallow including paper clips, string, ribbon, etc.

7. Did you know that you will need a petsitter if you go away, even for the weekend? The old wives' tale that cats can take care of themselves is pure rubbish. They cannot take care of themselves and they do get lonely. Beyond that, what happens in an emergency if the cat gets sick or if your house catches fire? It has happened to others and it can happen to you.

8. Have you had a pet before? If so, what happened to it?

Photo of Velvet by Sue Janson

9. Did you know that declawing a cat is animal cruelty? It's not a simple manicure.  It is cutting of each of the toes at the first joint. How would you feel if someone cut off each of your fingers at the first joint?  Relatively speaking, it's the same thing.

10. Will you still cherish your pet when she gets old? We live in a throw-away society. Pets are loving, living, sentient beings and for all the love they give you, they deserve to be cherished until their end of their days.

These are just a few of the questions you need to answer for yourself.  And here's a little bonus for you:  If you're a vegan do not expect a cat to be one. They are obligate carnivores and will die without meat in their daily diet.  If you can't live with that, then you can't live with a cat.  Try a hamster. And even then you'll have to assume a good deal of responsibility. 

A cat is a wonderful companion that will give you years of love and pleasure. If you've passed this test, give some thought to adopting an older cat. Everyone wants a kitten but they stay little for such a short time and their personality can change. With an older cat from a shelter, who will likely be killed if you don't adopt it, you will know what you're getting and you will also get years of love and happiness. Someone else's throw-away can be your treasure.


rescuegal said...

Excellent points made and advice given in this blog by Darlene Arden. She gives a thorough, easy to understand outline of all the considerations a potential cat owner needs to ask and answer before adopting a cat. I especially like her suggestion of considering adopting an older cat. Unfortunately, the older cats are often "throw aways" and they deserve to live out their lives in comfort and love which the cats will return many fold.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, rescuegal. You are so right about older cats.

Gordon Brice said...

As always, a wonderful article from Darlene. It certainly provides food for thought for anyone considering adopting a cat, or a dog for that matter. I hope anyone considering taking this step, especially for the first time, will take note of the excellent advice given here. Adopting is a total commitment and must not be taken lightly.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Gordon. You're right, it also applies to anyone who wants to adopt a dog. Sadly, too many people don't consider the commitment required and the pets end up back in the shelter or worse.

Images of Butterflies said...

I know that cats can be gentle too but I just could not bring myself to have one. I prefer dogs.

Darlene said...

Everyone should have what's right for them whether it's a cat or a dog or one of each!