June has been known as “Adopt-a-Cat month” since 1975. It was first promoted by American Humane Association to raise the awareness of overcrowding animal shelters with new litters of cats and kittens each spring and summer.
Justin Scally, the national director of emergency services of American Humane Association, estimated millions of cats and kittens end up in the shelters every year. She said, “An estimated 5 to 8 million pets enter U.S. shelters each year and approximately 3 to 4 million cats are euthanized.”
To grapple with the overpopulation of cats and kittens in breeding season, animal shelters in great Seattle work with the promotion of Adopt-A-Cat month.
“It (started) as a way for animal shelters to really focus on the fact that there’s a tremendous overpopulation of cats in this country,” said Don Jordan, the executive director of Seattle Animal Shelter. “It is really a chance to highlight the fact that cats and kittens are in need of new home.”
To encourage adoptions, many shelters run promotion campaign in June.
“We are celebrating Adopt-a-Cat month too and, every Thursday in June, cats over three years old have their adoption fees waived,” said the director companion animal services in PAWS Kay Joubert. “To help them all find the new homes, we offer periodic adoption specials or reduced adoption fees.”
Because of the large numbers of cats animal shelters have to handle, the work of finding homes for stray cats require participation from local communities.
“When cats connect to our shelter, we place them into foster cat home in the community,” Jordan said. “So there are a lot of families, even just single people or couple, provide temporary home for the cats or kittens. We have 350 families right now that provide temporary care for our cats, and they help find new home for the cats too as well.”
Stray cats are not the only ones benefited from adoption programs. Very often, cat owners enjoy health benefits on the other end.
“The love and affection that one can receive from a pet is remarkable,” Scally said. “Pets provide unconditional love and loyalty in return for a pet owner's outpouring of compassion and care.”
“People who own cats live longer,” Jordan said. “They tend to be happier. Their blood pressure often reduced. Their stress is reduced. They are kind of a little bit healthier, because your immune system can be build up.”
Jordan attempted to diminish the doubts of people who expect to adopt a cat, but afraid of being allergic to cats as well.
He said, “Often time people who have cats, they experience significant increasing in their immune system. Cats clean their fur. People are actually allergic to the saliva on the fur. And there are studies that have shown people can overcome their allergy, or allergy to cats, by simply owning a cat and allow their immune system to build up.”
Nonetheless, it is a serious decision to make when adopting a cat.
“It's always important to remember the lifelong investment that you're making and the commitment that you're promising your new pet when you adopt him or her,” said Scally. “In addition, cats need exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction. Two cats can do this for each other.”
Jordan said, “I always tell people who are interested in adopting a cat plan their budget for 100 dollars per month, for food, for toy. And they may need more money for a veterinary.”
Like matchmaking, it is important to find a cat with personality that matches the owner’s.
“PAWS provides people with a match-making system named ‘Meet Your Match’,” Joubert said. “If they’re determined to adopt a cat, it helps us generalize the order what they are looking for.”
Professionals from animal shelters encourage international students and foreign residents in Seattle to adopt cats. Seattle Animal Shelter provides interpretation services for people with language barrier during the adoption process.
People who do not intend to adopt a cat can still help stray cats in a variety of way.
“You can volunteer at a local rescue or animal shelter, help promote responsible pet ownership and check with other local animal welfare organizations to see what they can do to help animals in need.” Scally said. “For instance, volunteering, pet food bank, spay and neuter clinics.”
Bottom line: everyone can participate in June Adopt-a-Cat month in some ways.
Things to consider when adopting cats
Provide by Justin Scally, American Humane Association
1. Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours.
2. Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption.
3. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before your new pet comes home.
4. Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat.
5. Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives.
6. Cat-proof your home.
7. Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family.
8. Be sure to include your new pet in your family's emergency plan.
Article written by Chun-Ru Lin