Saturday 2 June 2012

The Advantages Of Adopting A Shelter Or Rescue Cat

By Elisa Black-Taylor (USA)

It is the American Humane Association ADOPT-A-CAT MONTH® so I thought I'd write about something about which I have lots of experience. They say if you're thinking about adopting from a shelter, adopt two! Great idea. But get yourself ready.

The advantages of adopting a shelter or rescue cat are threefold. By this I mean there are at least three primary reasons it's in a cat lovers best interest to adopt here rather than answer a freebie add or adopt from a breeder.

Florida and her kittens were euthanized - Photo by Andrea Sams

First of all there's the reality of what you're doing. You're saving a cat who likely would have been euthanized because of the ratio between cats available and people wanting to give them homes. The shelters are full, especially this time of year with it now being kitten season. I watch the death lists every week and see hundreds of mother kittens and their little ones killed because no one offered them a home.

These cats are grateful when you bring them home and love on them. I don't know whether or not cats can be proven "psychic," but I'm convinced shelter and rescue cats know you saved them from euthanasia. They prove their love to you daily by laying in your lap, sleeping on your bed, and basically turning you into a human servant for their needs and comfort.

The second advantage of adopting a shelter or rescue cat is the pre-adoption care given a cat before it's placed up for adoption. The majority of cats are spay/neutered and all are tested for FeLV, FIV and heartworms. They've been given their first vaccines or whatever vaccines the shelter or rescue knows the cat should have to stay healthy. Many are even micro-chipped in case they become lost. Your cost will usually run under $100 regardless of which adoption method you decide on between the two. This is what you'd pay for spay/neuter alone should you decide to go the freebie route.

The third advantage is the one most people don't even think about. When you adopt from a shelter or a rescue, you're creating a spot for another cat. This is important because often euthanasia schedules are determined by how many cages a shelter has available.

This is important even in areas where the local Humane Society or adoption center is a no-kill facility. Many pick from death row, but if the cats available for adoption in a separate facility just sit in a cage waiting and hoping for a home, it often means a cat on death row is euthanised because time ran out before a cage opening became available.

The same holds true when adopting from a rescue. Rescues typically pull cats from death row. When you adopt one of their cats, this gives the rescue an opening to save another cat.

This is the time of year for the best selection of cats available. Purebreds are being turned into the shelter along with their litters because their family didn't have the mother spayed. You may not have the paperwork to prove it, but it's very easy to find everything from Maine Coons to Siamese available along with mixed breed cats.

Many shelters as well as rescues can be found at weekend adoption events at Petco or Petsmart. If not, contact your local shelter and ask them what time is good to come in an meet their available cats.

I hope a few of the readers here will share their shelter or rescue adoption stories. These cats were thrown away by their owners for one reason or another. It does not mean they're not deserving of a good home and someone to love them.

Take it from someone who's pulled more than 50 cats off of death row in the past year and a half. Shelter cats are the best!

NOTE: The above photo shows a Maine Coon named Florida. She was euthanized along with her kittens because no one chose her at the shelter before her time ran out. Please support your local shelters and rescues.


  1. Thanks for sharing Elisa. I have always adopted cats that need rescuing. As you say rescuing a cat from death row brings a particular pleasure to the person. It creates the best possible start to the relationship. It creates an immediate bond that is much greater than if the cat was purchased from a breeder.

    The hurdle for a lot of people is getting into the mind set, the attitude, that a standard moggie shelter cat can be and will be better than a glamorous purebred cat as a companion. This is because after a while you don't see appearance, you see character and friendship. These are the things that endure and provide the real pleasure.

  2. You've made several important points here, thanks. I work for a no-kill rescue and most of our cats are cats from local animal control's "E-list".

    We have seen and pulled a variety of cats this season. They include: 6 Siamese kittens trapped in woods behind a house, a male Ragdoll, a litter of 3 fluffy black kittens, numerous moms and newborns (inc semi-feral mom), a young female who lost her kittens due to human animal cruelty,a 15 yr old female surrendered because the owner's second wife doesn't like cats, 2 ten yr old females whose owner died, several declawed cats, and many many more who were sitting in crowded shelters with little hope of adoption.

    Every single one of these cats is adoptable and doing well in foster care. I have met all of the ones I listed above and each and every one of them would make a perfect companion for someone.

    The enemy of shelter cats is time. In places with high intake and low public awareness, the cats are often gone before an adoption match is able to be made. Many cats do not "show" well in a shelter cage and may appear less adoptable due to stress, fear, or shyness,

    Rescue groups give cats that additional needed time to come to the attention of the public while allowing the cat addition time to be in a more comfortable environment.

    I am always happy when I pull a "death row" kitty, because I know, as you point out, I saved not just that particular cats life, but I made space for another I may just pull next time around.


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