June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month and it's a good thing. Shelters across the country are filled to brimming with cats in need of a good home, and some are even giving cats away for free (which we will reserve judgement on). We want every cat to have a good home, and when they are adopted, we want them to stay adopted. So this month is devoted to raising awareness over an enormous problem.
Every time I make a visit to the cat adoption area of my local pet supply, I just want to scoop them all up and whisk them away to a place where they will be adored and accepted as they are. Then reality hits me and reminds me why that’s just not possible. We already have two cats and a dog, and for us, that’s our limit.
Every pet deserves a solid, nurturing environment, and adding one more would bring imbalance to our home, meaning the new addition wouldn’t get all of the love and care they need from us, and I think that would be unfair to them. I know your heart is like mine and you want to save them all, but before you drive yourself to the local shelter, examine your home life and see if you are ready for a new furry friend...
Are you ready for another cat?
As soon as you’re done envisioning yourself curled up on the couch watching TV with Fluffy keeping you warm, ask yourself the following questions, realizing that the average lifespan of a cat is well over a decade, and some live into their twenties.
- Am I willing to deal with the litter box?
- Am I willing to clean up hairballs—perhaps even daily?
- Am I willing to give my kitty medicine if needed—perhaps even rectally?
- Will I be able to afford vet care?
- Can I afford quality food for the cat?
- Will I have the time to play with the cat to make sure it gets the exercise it needs?
Is your family ready for another cat?
Unless you live alone, you’ll need to make sure everyone else is on board with adding a new pet. If adding a new pet will also add resentment and strife to the environment, you may want to reconsider. A furbaby is best enjoyed when everyone in the home is at peace with each other.
Are your pets ready for another cat?
Examine your current pet situation. If you have dogs that haven’t been around cats, then you’re going to need to spend so time training them to behave correctly around a cat. Usually cats are pretty good at putting dogs in line, but you’ll need to keep a close eye at first in case you need to step in.
If you have other cats, realize that it may take a long time for everyone to get “cool” with one another, and that there’s a chance they won’t ever get there.
The best thing you can do for every animal involved is to start your new kitty off in a “safe zone” in your house. (You can read about making a safe zone for your cat in more detail by clicking here.)
First of all, you’ll need to set up a “safe zone” in your house before the cat arrives. Pick a room or area to block off in your home where the kitty can become familiar with their new surroundings in a safe, cozy environment.
If you have other pets, sniffing at each other under a door is a much better way for them to get to know each other than an abrupt “Look! We have a new kitty!” announcement right before you put the cat on the floor to fend for itself.
Second, cats seem to enjoy chewing on things. While you may have a cat already and they’re not much of a chewer, don’t assume that the next one will behave the same way. One of our cats doesn’t chew on anything but his food, but the other will pretty much eat anything that looks interesting to him. (We were first clued in to his exotic tastes when we had to bring him to the vets for his neutering, and they found a chewed up balloon in his stool—sigh.)
Once they’re out of their “safe room,” they’ll be exploring everything and getting into all of those tight spaces you didn’t think they could get to, so make sure anything that could harm your new kitty is put up out of the way.
Yes, I'm ready for a new cat!
If you’ve read all of this and still think you’re ready for a new cat, get yourself over to the nearest shelter! There are always plenty of cats who need good homes. If you aren’t ready for a new cat, why not take that heartbreak you feel when you see all of those homeless cats and turn it into something good by volunteering at the local shelter? They always need help, and just think of all the personalities you’ll get to meet!