By Paula Moore
Every morning, just before the alarm goes off, my cat Romeo jumps into bed with me and kisses my face until I get up. When I sit down to read a book, my old lady cat, Chloe, snuggles up on my lap, purring contentedly. My other cat, Mochi, doesn’t let me go to sleep at night until we’ve played a rousing game of “catch the Cat Charmer.”
If you’re looking for a companion who can double as an alarm clock, lap warmer and exercise buddy, then this June, “Adopt a Shelter Cat” Month, would be the perfect time to adopt a cat. Better yet, adopt two.
Personally, I think that every month should be “Adopt a Shelter Animal” Month. But it’s no coincidence that “Adopt a Shelter Cat” Month coincides with “kitten season,” the dreaded time of year when unwanted kittens and mama cats pour into animal shelters.
With 6 to 8 million animals entering U.S. shelters every year, most are constantly filled to capacity. Open-admission shelters—those that never turn animals away—have no choice but to euthanize many healthy, friendly cats (and dogs) in order to accommodate the flood of baby animals born during the spring and summer months.
Sadly, this tragic situation is not likely to change any time soon. For years, animal shelters and rescue groups have encouraged, urged and begged animal guardians to spay or neuter in order to help stop the animal homelessness crisis at its source. They have tried heartbreaking appeals to help people realize that buying animals from backyard breeders or pet stores means stealing desperately needed homes from animals in shelters—who will likely pay with their lives.
Until people do these two simple things—sterilize their animal companions and adopt animals rather than buying them—shelters will be forced to euthanize millions of animals every single year because there just aren’t enough homes for them all.
I can think of no good reason not to adopt. Pre-loved cats know the ropes. They are almost always litterbox-trained, pros at sharpening their claws on a scratching post instead of on your curtains and familiar with the “do’s” and “don’ts” of living with humans.
Shelters screen animals for specific temperaments and behaviors, and most have trained adoption counselors available to help you find the right fit for your family. Animals in shelters and rescue groups are examined by a veterinarian when they arrive, and for a nominal fee—hundreds less than what breeders typically charge—they leave spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.
People who have their hearts set on a specific breed of cat can still rescue an animal in need of a loving home. Having a pedigree doesn’t protect animals from being tossed out like an old TV set when they’re no longer wanted. Both of my male cats are Siamese, and both were dumped on the streets when their previous owners got tired of them.
I can’t imagine ever tiring of my cats’ company. Each is unique—Mochi is moody and headstrong, while Romeo is a real sweetheart and Chloe is an opinionated old lady—but they are all loving, affectionate companions. If you’re ready to commit, please open your heart and home to a cat waiting in a shelter. You’ll save a life—and make a friend for life.