Five Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Cat
June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, and I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing cats bad mouthed. Yes, they are different than dogs, but so are birds, ferrets, and the snail you got to take home in 4th grade when your terrarium project was over (I will always think of you, Maid Marian). Any time I hear "I can't stand cats," I roll my eyes so hard I throw my neck out. I mean, why? They basically nom nibbles in between sleep sessions and eat dead bugs off the floor. They're the chillest roommate you'll ever have, which brings me to...
1. Cat Roommate vs. Dog Roommate
Now, I didn't want to spend this article comparing dogs and cats, but I think a parallel needs to be made in order to highlight the difference in how cats and dogs socialize with their humans. Having a dog is like having an unemployed roommate. You come home from work, exhausted and ready to relax. They, on the other hand, slept all day and are starved for conversation:
Dog: Oh my GAWD, you're home! You won't BELIEVE what happened on Judge Judy today. Ho-ly CRAP. This woman was trying to sue her neighbor's ten-year-old over a hair tie that lost it's elasticity. Dude. I'm not joking. Thought Judy was going to DIE. Are you hungry? I could eat. Actually, you know what, I've been staring at these walls all day, you wanna get outta here? Maybe go for a walk? A walk sounds awesome right now. Mailman! Mailman! The Mailman is OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW! Do you see this? DO YOU SEE THIS? Mailman! He left. You're my best friend.
A cat roommate walks in to the living room and asks:
Cat: Whatcha watchin'?
You: Last Samurai.
Cat: Dude. I love that movie. Are we passed the gratuitous training montage?
You: Oh, yeah. Sh*t is about to get real.
Cat: Mind if I sit here and watch it with you?
You: Go for it, buddy.
Cat: If I fall asleep, don't hate me.
Of course, it should be said that cats do have a tendency to be night owls, so you might have to deal with your roommate's occasional Mario Andretti impression up and down your hallway for absolutely no reason at all, but that's your guy, so you let it go. You do you, and they do them, which makes them ideal pets for busy people because...
2. Their Independence Lets You Live Your Life
There's no way I would be able to volunteer as much as I do if my pets weren't self-sufficient. Of course they need to be fed, groomed, and tidied up after, but there isn't a daily schedule that has to be adhered to in order to not come home and find gifts on the carpet. If cats could be compared to children, they skip the toddler years and go straight to being teenagers. They can bathe themselves without help. They eat when they're hungry and sleep when they're tired. That leaves room for you to have an active life. Like to run 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons? You can travel around to events without wondering who is going to "babysit" while you're gone for the day. Have a job that offers overtime at the last minute? Feel free to snatch it up! Your "teenager" had plenty of food when you left the house. Want to catch that concert in Chicago? Get tickets and know that your pet will be fine after your over-night trip. Cats spend a lot of time doing their own thing, but just like teenagers, when they feel like being social, they are, and when they are, it means something. That's because...
3. A Cat's Affection is Earned (For a Good Reason)
Cats show affection by just being in the room with you. If they feel safe in their environment and cared for by their human, they will show it by sharing space. Cats are social. Very social. If they consider you as part of their pack, they will include you. And, yes, it isn't with tails wagging and slobbery kisses, but when you realize their affection is quiet and specific, it feels very much like that aforementioned teenager putting their phone down and asking if you want to watch a movie with them. When I got Chopin (the Magnificent), he was ten months old. He was scared to be in a new environment with a new person, and he wouldn't come out during the day for weeks. Slowly, he warmed up to me, and before I knew it, I made visual contact (success!). Some time after that he started sitting by my feet. And then finally, one day, he conjured the courage to crawl up on my lap and (as the above photo proves) he hasn't looked back. It's a wonderful feeling to know that a fluffy little buddy like that trusts me enough to share my space and my lap. It was slow, but we got there. It should be said that cats aren't just affection seeking, couch fuzzes...
4. Cats Love to Play
The myth surrounding cats is that they sleep all day and want nothing to do with their humans. That's not true. Engage with them, and you will see an entirely different animal - and you don't have to get them high on catnip first. Something as simple as a piece of string can turn that hunting instinct on, and they will do acrobatics just to "kill it." Speaking of simple toys, a cardboard box, rings from milk jugs, and my personal favorite, the plastic mesh sleeves they put on wine bottles to prevent them from smashing in to each other during transit, are a few free favorites. Don't believe me? My cat will lay on the carpet for hours with that mesh sleeve between his paws biting and pulling apart each individual square. I call it Kitty Bubble Wrap. Very effective distraction device when trying to groom him, I might add. Spend a little time each week really giving them a good run, and they will be all the happier for it. Not really into "playful cats"? That's fine because...
5. Cats are Not One-Size-Fits-All
There are 73 recognized breeds of cats. Some are known for their playful side, like the Abyssinian or Siamese. Some are more docile, like the Ragdoll (see my lap rug, Chopin), or the Manx. Big cats. Small cats. Allergic? There are even hypoallergenic models to choose from. So once you've figured out the kind of cat that fits you best, the people at the shelter can help you further. They have observed their adoptable felines and can tell you which ones are great with children, or don't do well with dogs, or are a perfect fit for a household that already has cats. Did your research on the best cat fit for your life, but you don't know what the heck a Scottish Fold even looks like? They can help with that, too. Just because they're in a shelter doesn't mean they're a bad kitty. Oh contraire. Some of them were rescued, literally, from the flames...
...like Sassy, one of the kittens saved from a fire two months ago. It was love at first mew for Nikki D., the Traffic Director, here, at the radio station. The adoption was finalized on May 27th, 2017.
Thinking of adopting? Visit the SPCA of Southwest Michigan and find your purrr-fect match. I had to. Sorry.
I'll see myself out.