We are in the height of kitten season, so the timing is right to celebrate National Adopt a Shelter Cat Month by bringing home a new feline friend. Shelters and rescues in our area are full with cats of all ages, sizes, colors and personalities.
About 3.2 million cats end up in shelters every year, including thousands born every spring and summer during kitten season. The average adoption rate is just half of that, at 1.6 million cats per year. This leaves 50% of the feline population without a home.
A CAT FOR EVERYONE: Cats come in a variety of personalities and requirements for your attention. Some cats are very loving and cuddly, insisting on constant human affection. Others are more aloof and independent but are happy to receive attention when it is offered. Friendliness often depends on the level of socialization, so not handling the cat much will result in him becoming more aloof. All cats enjoy a good challenge, and enrichment toys can provide endless hours of entertainment.
MORE INDEPENDENT THAN DOGS: Cats tend to be on the independent side, so if one wants the companionship of a pet, but perhaps has a busy schedule, this could be a match made in heaven. With the proper amenities (food, water, fresh litter, toys, a nice window to gaze out of), cats are content to be left alone or with another pet to keep them company. Unlike dogs, felines do not need to be let outside to do their business and can live completely indoors.
ALL AGES AVAILABLE: Kittens get into everything, just like puppies and toddlers, so those who do not want to deal with the baby months may want to consider adopting an adult or juvenile cat. Cats can live upward of 20 years, so a 1- or 2-year-old cat will still be around for many, many years. A middle-age or senior cat is a good option, too. I know many cats that are in their teens and still have spunky personalities.
ADJUSTMENT PERIOD: Cats need time to get comfortable in their new environment. Try to make the transition for the new cat as smooth as possible. Take into consideration where he came from. Was he in a cage in a shelter, did he come off the street or is he coming from a home environment? Did the cat live with other animals? Was the place noisy or quiet? A new environment can be stressful. Taking things slowly and easing him into his new routine is the best way for a cat to integrate into a new family. In most cases, it only takes a few days to acclimate to a new home, but it can also take several weeks.
FIRST-TIME OWNER?: If so, make sure allergies are not an issue. Lots of people are allergic to cats, and some may not even know it, so making sure in advance that everyone is the home is allergy free will avoid a cat having to lose his new home before he gets settled in.
JUNE 10: Rolling River Rescue will hold a dog and cat adoption event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Petsmart in Elmwood, 1000 S. Clearview Parkway, Harahan. Meet adoptable dogs from Rolling River Rescue, Greta's Ark Animal Rescue and Take Paws Rescue, and adoptable cats through the Spaymart kitten foster program. Donations of gently used items, food and monetary donations for foster and medical costs will also be accepted. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more information on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.