My local pet store is always crowded on Saturday mornings, when the nearby shelter brings its adorable kittens and cats, in the hopes that they will be adopted. Yet however lovable the animals are, some people hesitate because they’ve heard all kinds of myths about shelter cats, most of them just plain wrong. Let’s clear up a few misconceptions.
1. Shelter Cats Are Damaged Cats
It’s a common belief that there must be something wrong with cats that are up for adoption. Not true! Most cats end up in a shelter when their owner can’t keep them anymore; there may be financial issues, a divorce, or even a death. Whatever the problem, it becomes impossible for this person to keep caring for a kitty. In other words, these cats are often homeless through no fault of their own, and they are healthy, active animals hoping someone will take them home.
2. It Takes A Long Time To House-Train A Shelter Cat
Along with the idea of shelter cats being damaged comes another myth: those cats are in shelters because they behaved badly, so their owners kicked them out of their homes. Again, not true. Even if a cat was brought to a shelter due to a behavior problem, there could be many reasons for that, including the previous owner’s treatment of the animal. In addition, most rescues and shelters work with cats to socialize them with other animals and often use foster homes to accustom them to both other pets and children. Don’t assume the worst about shelter kitties.
3. I Could End Up With The Wrong Kitty
This is unlikely to happen with a good rescue or shelter, since shelter workers strive to make sure your cat adoption goes smoothly and that you and their cat are a good match. This is, after all, their main objective, and since they spend a whole lot of time with their cats, they take pride in matching you up with the right kitty companion. They also may do follow-up visits; when I adopted my wonderful black cat Jaspar from a shelter in Los Angeles, a volunteer visited my home several times to make sure everything was going smoothly. To further ensure you get the right cat, many rescues even specialize in specific types, such as small cats, bigger cats, or particular breeds of cat.
4. Shelters Will Make Me Jump Through Hoops To Adopt A Cat
It’s true that there are certain procedures to follow, but this is to protect both the cat and the companion. Shelters want to make sure that their kitty is going to the best possible home; the staff working with those animals come to know them well, and want the best for them. Adopting Jaspar involved several visits to the shelter, a detailed application form to fill out, a staff member visiting my home to make sure it was suitable for Jaspar, a waiting period of 24 hours, and finally signing a contract and paying a fee. At age 14 months, Jaspar had already been abandoned twice in his life, so I understood why it was important to make sure I would be a good mom. That said, if you don’t like the way a shelter is treating you, you can always try a different shelter or rescue.
5. A Shelter Cat Probably Has Health Issues That I’ll Have To Pay For
In my experience, quite the opposite is true. When I adopted my adorable but feisty cat Jake from a rescue in Rockville, Maryland, he had already been seen several times by a veterinarian. As a kitten, he had suffered some respiratory problems; these had been treated and I was given all the details of his medical history. I never had any health issues with him. That’s unusual, since most animals will have a health problem at some point, but I was happy to know that he had received excellent health care before he became mine. If you’re concerned, ask the people at the shelter how they evaluate the animals that come to them. Be sure to get a written copy of the evaluation and any veterinary care to keep as part of the animal’s medical record.
Have fun selecting your shelter cat!