June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. There are pros and cons to adopting a cat from a shelter versus purchasing one from a breeder.
First, the cons. The large majority of the cats in pet shelters are a bit older, so it may take you a little while to find the cute little kitten you had your heart set on. If you do decide to adopt an adult cat, many of the cats will be affected by their previous experiences in terms of behavior and temperament.
Many of them have never been in a loving home before and will have a tough time trying to adapt to your style of life. In fact, some of them might be virtually impossible to train, even if they have received special attention in the shelter, you can simply never know everything before you actually start living with them.
The biggest drawback to adopting a cat from a shelter is that it was very likely exposed to upper respiratory viruses. It is virtually impossible to keep respiratory viruses out of a shelter if they house a decent amount of cats. It doesn’t matter how fastidiously clean the environment is, respiratory viruses will find their way into a population of cats coming from unknown places and backgrounds. While the animals are treatable and will go on to be great pets, the virus will likely pop back up from time to time throughout the cat’s life. To try to decrease the risk of adopting a cat with a respiratory virus, carefully check the cat’s eyes and nose for any discharge. Also, take a look at the other cats in the shelter looking for any eye or nose discharge, listen for any sneezing cats while you are in the shelter. Upper respiratory viruses are spread through the air just like a cold or the flu in humans.
Now for the pros. You are also going to support the given pet shelter – and in turn, the entire pet community in the area. There are plenty of animals in need out there and your adoption will allow one of them to get the treatment and welfare it truly deserves.
You are saving a life. Even if you adopt from a no-kill shelter, most of them take adoptable animals from kill shelters in the area when they have room. Your adoption frees up a spot for another animal to be given a second (or first) chance at life.
Cats from shelters are ready to go. They have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and dewormed. That saves you quite a bit of money in up front expenses of getting a new animal. Many shelters also give a starter supply of food and flea medications.
If you do decide to adopt an adult cat, you save a lot of havoc in your home. They will be past the stage of climbing your curtains and ripping up your couch for fun. The nice laying around on the couch all day days will have already set in.
Most cats in shelters have lived in a home before. They have ended up in sad circumstances through no fault of their own. People move and can’t take their pets, they can no longer afford their care, they have passed away or moved to a nursing home that doesn’t accept pets. Many of these cats already know how to live in a home with a family and just need a second chance.
You are going to give one lucky cat a really good life. Not every cat in a shelter has had a loving home, some of the cats in pet shelters have gone through a lot before they have managed to get there and there is no doubt that they would benefit from having an actual family that would take care of them. You have the unique opportunity to give love to an animal that may have never had that experience and that is priceless.