We are enchanted by cats – we watch them on social media videos, share photos of our own cats, dress them in costume and give captions to their expressions. They can be clowns, comforting companions, or courageous heroes.
June is National Adopt a Cat Month, and Encanto Pet Clinic wants to thank those who open their hearts and homes to abandoned or neglected felines. Americans own more than 95 million cats, and approximately 26 % of them have been adopted from an animal shelter or rescue organization. When a friend found three two-week-old kittens abandoned in front of her business, Virginia Plummer stepped in to help. She found homes for the kittens but kept one, naming him Cosmo. “I bottle-fed him, and now he is a year and a half old. He was raised from a baby, and he was neutered and declawed, but he had a bit of a biting problem,” says Plummer. “I thought about getting a friend for him.”
Christina Jones of Tucson2Tails, a foster-based organization in Tucson, agrees that most of the time, it is better to have two cats in a household. “They keep each other company when you are not at home,” says Jones. But, she warns, do your research. “ If you have not owned a cat before, then research what it takes own one (cost-food, supplies, pet sitter when gone, and veterinarian expenses), research the types of cats to figure out what you want or are looking for in a cat.”
Jones suggests looking at Petfinder.com, adoptapet.com and other sites that list cats in your specific area. “Read the information about the cat or kitten. Don’t just look at the picture. The groups who have [felines] for adoption take the time to see what the cat or kitten needs. Some don’t do well with dogs or other cats or with young children, etc. The goal is to get the cat or kitten into a forever home so that they are not returned or dumped at the shelter.”
Plummer was on a business-related visit at Encanto Pet Clinic when Tina Ireland suggested she meet Anna. Anna had been taken in by the clinic after a client could no longer care for her. “ She was two years old and already spayed and declawed, and she had all her shots,” says Plummer. “And she was so sweet, and had this cute little diamond-studded collar. I took her with the understanding that if it didn’t work out, I could bring her back.”
Tina sent her home with literature on how to introduce a new cat to a household. But Anna adapted very quickly, and she and Cosmo became friends. “ They wrestle and play and are a delight to watch. Cosmo is bigger than she is, but she is kind of aggressive!” Plummer laughs. “They don’t hurt each other, but it gets pretty physical. I am happy that Cosmo has a friend – it keeps him active.”
Are you thinking of adopting a cat? Here are some tips:
1. Take your time and choose a cat that matches your lifestyle. Some cats are relaxed and fairly sedentary, and others are active and mischievous. Jones says that cats in a shelter or viewing situation are often under stress with transport and additional handling. “You will have to trust the people who represent the cat to tell you more about their personality. They know how the cat behaves in a more “normal” environment.”
2. Cats need mental stimulation and exercise, so plan ahead. Stock your home with toys, brushes and combs, a litter box, food and other supplies before bringing your new pet home. Sometimes adoption centers offer coupons for food, litter or other products. Make sure you purchase a suitable carrier for your cat, for the initial trip home and for future trips to the veterinarian or groomer, etc. The staff at Encanto Pet Clinic is on hand to help you make a list of necessary supplies, and give you information on what might be best for your cat.
3. Some rescue groups require a home visit, says Jones. “When they do the home visit, they are not looking at how clean your house is. They are looking to make sure the cat or kitten will be in the right environment; they will have access to food, water, a litter box, etc. [They want to] make sure you’ll have the right equipment and space for the cat.”
4. Cat-proof your home. Keep food off the counters, scan the floors for small items that may harm your cat, and create family guidelines for closing outside doors to prevent escape. Remember, your new cat is unsure of the new surroundings and may try to run away. Keep emergency numbers where they are easy to find – pet sitter, your veterinarian, Poison Control, and an after-hours emergency animal clinic.
5. Do not adopt a cat as a “gift” for someone else. Make sure everyone involved actively participates in the adoption process. Cats are not items, like jewelry or appliances. They must be matched carefully to their new forever home.
6. Talk to the veterinarians and staff at Encanto Pet Clinic when you begin your search for a cat. They may be able to help you in your search. Schedule a visit with one of our veterinarians within a few days of adoption. It is helpful to bring your cat or kitten in for a “well visit” to acclimate them to the sights and smells of the clinic – and let us get to know them!
7. Consider a microchip for your new cat, and register with an online site such as 24hourpetwatch.com.
8. Be smart about the number of cats you adopt. The Animal Legal Defense Fund reports that more than 250,000 animals including cats are victims of hoarding situations every year. Please consider your needs and circumstances as well as those of the cat you consider adopting.
If you are not in a position to adopt a cat, you can still celebrate National Adopt a Cat Month. Here are some ideas:
-Donate to your local cat shelter. Ask if they have a wish list for supplies or if they accept direct support offers for specific felines or litters of kittens. Tucson2Tails is a fostering organization; all cats or kittens reside in approximately 30 homes with individuals or families. Your donations go directly to support the care and feeding of homeless cats and dogs. Contact Christina Jones at Tucson2Tails@gmail.com for more information on donating or volunteering to foster a cat or help at an adoption venue. Or visit their website here.
-Share links to local adoption centers on your Facebook page.
-Donate to the veterinary care of an adoptable cat. Call Encanto Pet Clinic, Veterinarian in Tucson, AZ to find out if there are feline patients that need financial help from friends.