Adopting a shelter cat
By Katie Pemberton
June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, and what better way to celebrate than by bringing home a shelter cat of your own? No matter which type of cat you’re seeking, you can probably find your new furry feline friend at one of our area’s many rescue organizations and shelters, such as the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County (HSMSC) or CY’s House of Mews on Cooper Street.
Adopting a shelter cat can be a simple and rewarding process; however, there are a few things to consider according to Dani Kiddy, cat kennel technician at HSMSC.
“The first question I ask potential adopters is what kind of cat they are looking for,” said Kiddy. “Often, people have a very specific idea of the type of cat they want. However, I always caution against adopting a certain type of cat simply because you previously owned that type of cat and loved it. Every cat is different.”
Kiddy adds that expecting your newly adopted cat to live up to your former is unrealistic. For example, just because your previous Maine Coon was highly intelligent, never destructive, and loved to chase plastic bags does not mean every Maine Coon will have those same characteristics. Additionally, there are many factors much more important than simply color or looks, such as personality, temperament, and whether you connect with a certain cat.
“Also, ask yourself why you want to adopt a shelter cat,” Kiddy suggests. “If part of that reason isn’t that you enjoy the company of cats and that a cat would fit well with your lifestyle, you may want to consider finding other ways to help, such as volunteering or fundraising. But if a love of cats and a desire to spend much of your time with them is part of your reason for adopting a shelter cat, you are a great candidate.”
Another important reason many people want to adopt a shelter cat is that they simply want to help a cat that needs a home. There is a special breed of person who looks to adopt whichever cat is least likely to be noticed or chosen. Kiddy explains that several types of cats fit the bill of not being most people’s first choices, including older cats, overweight cats, black cats, very reserved cats, and bonded pairs (meaning two cats that must be adopted together because they are so bonded to one another). If you are someone who truly wants to help a cat that needs you, ask your local rescue organization or shelter about these types of cats.
“It helps to be open-minded when you’re looking to adopt a cat,” Kiddy said. “If you let yourself, you could fall in love and find a perfect match in a cat you never would have noticed had you stuck to rigid parameters.”
For example, with bonded pairs, staff or rescue volunteers think their quality of life would be compromised by being separated. But it can be exceptionally difficult for a bonded pair to find the right home where they can be together. For many households, having two cats is an ideal option, as they will keep each other busy playing and experience less boredom, which typically leads to destructive behavior. Additionally, black cats are difficult to adopt out due to superstition and simply because they don’t fit into some of the more popular breeds of cats, like Maine Coon, Calico, Siamese, Orange Tabby, or Ragdoll.
Keep in mind that the shelter environment can be stressful for some cats, and when you meet a cat, he might not be his usual friendly, whimsical self. For any cat you’re strongly considering, make a point to visit him more than one time to get a better feel for his personality.
To see Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County adoptable cats go to memphishumane.org or visit them at 935 Farm Road, Tuesday through Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, or Sunday 1-5pm. You can get more information about any of their cats by calling them at 901-937-3900.