FROM PETA …
I grew up with two black cats named Candy and Coco (never let children name animals). They were just little balls of fluff when my parents and I spotted them at the local animal shelter. Candy was sitting shyly in the back of the cage—in the litterbox, to be exact. Coco, on the other hand, was climbing up the wire cage door, vying for attention. It worked. Do I need to add that it was love at first sight?
Over the years, Candy always lived up to her name. She was a sweet girl who enjoyed nothing more than curling up on the nearest lap, purring contentedly. But Coco—she was my best friend. She was smart and adventurous, curious about everything and fiercely loyal. We were inseparable. She taught me about unconditional love, and she’s the reason why I vowed to dedicate my life to helping all animals.
So it’s heartening to me to hear that the blockbuster Marvel movie Black Panther may be helping real-life black cats find loving homes. Whether it’s because they’re unfairly associated with old superstitions or because their dark coats mean that they’re just not as photogenic as other animals, black cats (and black dogs, too) often have a tough time getting adopted. But now, some animal shelters are reporting that people visiting their facilities are spotting the little “black panthers” and deciding to take a chance on a pint-size T’Challa or Nakia.
But here’s a reminder to would-be adopters: Adding an animal to your family means making a lifetime commitment. It’s not something that should ever be done on impulse. After all, your new companion could live for 15 years or more.
These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself (and give clear-eyed answers to) before adopting:
First, can you afford a cat? Are you prepared to pay for food, accessories (cat litter, carriers, toys, treats, etc.) and a lifetime of veterinary care—including medications and emergency treatments? This is no joke. Over the years, I’ve had cats who developed asthma, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and other health problems—all of which required medication—and I can tell you that the expenses quickly add up. And one trip to an emergency veterinary clinic can easily cost $2,000 or more.
Will you have the time and patience to clean litterboxes and trim toenails? Will you make time every day—even when you’re busy or tired—to play with, brush and cuddle your cat? Will you help keep your cat content in the great indoors by providing plenty of perches, access to windows and interesting things to explore? Outdoors, cats are defenseless against cars, cruel people, contagious diseases, poisons and other dangers.
Will a responsible adult be the cat’s primary caregiver? It’s good to involve kids in caring for animals, of course, but children can quickly lose interest in the routine chores that come with caring for a cat.
Do you travel frequently? Who will care for your cat when you’re away? If you have to hire a cat sitter, how much will that cost?
Sharing your home with an animal is a huge responsibility, and you need to be in it for the long haul. But if you’re ready for all the challenges and joys of caring for an animal companion, adopting a “black panther” (or a tawny tabby) will change your life. Cats will love you unconditionally. They will always be there for you. They will always be glad to see you. Having a cat just makes a home a happier place.