First let me say this is not my way of soliciting business, it’s just a plea to keep your cat in your home. I am a behavior consultant, but I’m also a shelter volunteer and I see too many cats being surrendered when they don’t need to as there is help. Pick up the phone and get the help you need whether it’s a vet visit, a behavior consultation or the last resort of rehoming, but please do not surrender your cat to a shelter.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that shelters are all bad and that they don’t fill a need. I’m saying there are better options. I know all the lives that are saved by the work they do, but I also see the other side. My goal here is to educate and get a good honest conversation started and that we can save even more lives. That’s why I do what I do.
Do you have a cat and are you having an issue with that cat? Is it the dreaded litter box problem? Did you adopt a second cat and now first kitty is angry and showing his temper? Is your cat getting old and having senior problems? Or did you adopt a brand new kitty and he is hiding or just not what you though he would be? If you answered yes to any of these questions please don’t give up hope and take your cat to the local shelter. (Oh and don’t just dump him somewhere or post him on Craig’s list.) This cat is now a part of your family and you owe it to him to make sure he is safe and loved. Here is what you do:
#1 If you are having a litter box issue first go to the vet and make sure he’s not sick. If kitty is healthy do a little research and make sure you have the litter box and your home set up for success. Next, if that’s not working get help from a behavior consultant. With help from your vet or a behaviorist or both you will get your problem resolved. Trust me when I say, your cat has very little chance of making out of a shelter alive with the stigma of “litter box issues” attached to him.
#2 When you introduce a new cat into a home with an existing cat make sure to follow the guidelines provided by the shelter or rescue group. If you just found or rescued the kitty on your own get advice from your vet, a rescue group or behaviorist on how to make the proper introduction. There are also plenty of resources online to provide you with the help you need. Ex: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-behavior/introducing-your-cat-new-cat
Take your time, follow the steps and don’t give up. Get help first.
#3 If your cat is getting older regular vet visits are a must. Cats are known to be “silent sufferers” and we often don’t catch problems until they are more serious. With regular check-ups we can keep our cats healthier. Feed high quality food and provide plenty of enrichment. TLC goes a long way. Older cats need very little, much less demanding than kittens, and offer so much love in return. Please don’t send them to a shelter just because seem less fun or start to look a little scruffy. Honor your commitment and love them until the very end. Trust me it’s worth every minute. (Some cats actually do die from broken hearts. They just stop eating and give up.)
#4 Before you consider adopting make certain you are ready! Please be ready for anything. A cat that seems super outgoing and fun at the shelter may get scared and need extra time to adjust to their new home. Remember kittens are high energy and might keep you up at night or scratch your beautiful new couch. Try to match the right cat to the energy level of your home. For example a shyer kitty is probably not a match for a busy home with kids. An older kitten who is sturdy and has a lot of spunk would be better. Get it? Also please make sure you have the time, the love, the energy and can afford the basic care for your new family member. Fostering might be a really good option to see if you are ready.
Now knowing you have options and help is available please thinks twice before taking your cat to a shelter. In many shelters as much as 70% of cats don’t make it out alive and it could be yours. Yes some are much better than others, but they should be used only as an absolute last resort. As a cat lover and volunteer I am glad they are there to step in cases of cruelty, when an owner dies or can no longer care due to illness. I am glad they are there when someone loses their home or there are no other options. I am glad they are there for second chances, but should be treated as such. Please think about what is going on with your cat or cats and reach out for help. It’s there….. before you go to a shelter.
“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” ― Charles Dickens