June is "Adopt a Cat Month"
Do you . . . Enjoy unconditional love and constant companionship?
Believe that caring for a pet for 15 years does not seem like a lifetime?
Look forward to having your ankles rubbed by an affectionate, hairy animal?
Not mind sharing your house with someone who will never clean up after himself?
Love a housemate who randomly and regularly entertains you with outrageous and silly antics?
Want to take care of someone every day?
Like your lap warmed whenever you sit down?
Not mind spending your extra money on pet food, toys, veterinary care, and kitty litter?
Believe that spaying and neutering pets will solve the pet overpopulation problem?
Not mind living with someone who sheds, tracks kitty litter, and throws up hairballs?
Want to keep an ID tag on your pet?
If you answered yes to these questions, you could be a perfect cat owner. And now is the perfect time to become one. June is the American Humane's (AH) Adopt-A-Cat Month®. But before you add a loving feline to your family, consider the following questions:
What Kind Of Cat Do You Want?
There are about 35 cat breeds, plus all the wonderful mixes. This variety in cats gives you plenty of things to take into account when making your decision.
Appearance: Do you have a fondness for cats whose ears are folded over or whose noses are flatter? Or do you like those with ears that stand erect or with bushy tails? Do you envision a cat with a short, easy-to-care-for coat, or a fluffy cat that looks like a ball of fur? Cats come in many colors, with many features and coats – which look appeals to you? Keep in mind that, although all cats shed, longer-haired cats require almost daily brushing to keep their fur from matting. Some breeds, like Persians, need to be groomed on a regular basis, which may require professional services.
Gender: Do you want a male or a female cat? Knowing ahead of time whether you want a Simba or a Sasha can greatly assist you in narrowing your options.
Age: Do you want a kitten or a cat? Tiny mewing kittens are hard to resist, but, like any other baby, they require frequent feeding and lots of TLC. Kittens need lots of attention and will have to be trained to use a litter box. Fortunately, most are fast learners and adapt quickly to their new surroundings. You may prefer adult cats that are often already litter box trained, and that will not display the crazy antics of kittens. Also, adult cats (six months or older) may be a better choice for families with small children as they are less fragile and know how to get out of the way.
Personality: Many cats are affectionate and friendly, while others can be aloof and distant. Some breeds are more inquisitive, more laid back, or more talkative (like the Siamese). What type of personality would work best in your household? Do you have the energy for an energetic kitten? Or would you rather have a mellow cat who is better suited to a quiet household?
Other Family Members
Discuss the needs, concerns, fears and medical issues – namely allergies – of everyone in your household. Does everyone want to have a new cat? Is everyone looking forward to loving and caring for a new member of the family? Decide how much time each family member can spend with the animal and the responsibilities each will have.
Visit your local shelter first!
Throughout the spring and summer, animal shelters throughout the country are inundated with hundreds of homeless cats and dozens of litters of kittens. Tragically, about 71% of these animals will have to be put to sleep because there are not enough loving homes. For this reason, the American Humane Association recommends checking out your local shelter or breed placement group first. Along with benefitting from the lifelong gratitude and devotion of the cat whose life you saved, you'll also find that shelters provide the greatest number of options (long-haired or short-haired, kittens or older cats, purebreds or mixes), as well as assistance in choosing a cat who will fit in well with your family and lifestyle.
The Adoption Process
Once you've answered these questions and decided to take on the fun and love of cat ownership, be prepared to be screened yourself. If you adopt a cat from a shelter, adoption counselors will want to determine your commitment and ability to care for an animal. If you rent an apartment, you may be required to present a copy of your lease or other proof that your landlord accepts pets. Also be prepared to answer questions about your home and lifestyle and about your expectations and concerns about owning a pet. Keep in mind that adoption counselors are always impressed with people who have thought about what they want in a pet before being asked.
It's easy to lose your heart at an animal shelter. There are so many adorable animals vying for your attention that you may find yourself wanting to take them all home. Of course, all the animals deserve good homes. But how do you find that special companion animal that's the best fit?
Feline Temperament Testing
If the one that captures your heart is an older feline, here are a few suggestions from animal behaviorists on how to perform a temperament test in the shelter.
Find out who is friendly. When you talk to them, many cats will greet you by rubbing against the cage door and purring.
Meet with the cat in a quiet indoor environment. Hold your fingers out and scratch the neck and head area. If he continues to respond in a positive manner, then the cat was probably well socialized in his last home.
Determine a cat's tolerance for touch. Try to hold the cat. If she immediately struggles to get away, she may not like human contact. Try a few more times, since the cat may be stressed and need a few minutes to calm down.
Test the cat for affection or aggression. After petting a cat a few times, does he nail you with his claws? This cat may not be happy with being petted, which is something to consider if you are looking for a lap cat.
Another thing to keep in mind is that cats are very sensitive to the scent of other cats. Consider changing your shirt and washing your hands thoroughly before visiting with another cat.
Don't think you have to adopt an animal on your very first visit. This is a big commitment, so take your time. It may require many visits to find the right pet.