Visit any animal shelter in the country this month, and you're bound to see litter after litter of kittens as well as sweet mother cats and cat dads in need of loving homes. It's the peak of "kitten season," and that's why June is the perfect time to celebrate "Adopt a Shelter Cat" Month.
For anyone looking to add a feline to the family, there is no better place to find the perfect cat than at an animal shelter. Shelters have cats of every age and personality type, from rambunctious kittens to snuggly feline "senior citizens." Most shelters are happy to help match prospective guardians with the perfect animal for their lifestyle and personality and will give adopters plenty of time to get to know their potential new family member one on one in a private visiting room.
Adopting has many benefits: Pre-loved cats are likely to be litterbox-trained,
pros at sharpening their claws on a scratching post instead of on furniture and
familiar with the "do's" and "don'ts" of living in a human
household. Most animals in shelters are screened for health and temperament
and, for a nominal adoption fee, go home spayed or neutered, microchipped and
vaccinated. Many shelters also offer
free or low-cost follow-up support and classes to ensure that adopted animals make
the transition to a new home successfully.
Every cat adopted is a life saved, but ultimately, even the
most heroic adoption efforts are like trying to bail out the Titanic with a teaspoon. We can bail for
all we're worth, but the ship is going down unless we fix the source of the
problem. Cats reproduce much faster
than we can find homes for all their kittens. Without spaying, one female cat and her offspring can produce
370,000 kittens in just seven years. And that's just one cat. Across the country, countless cats will
have litters this summer, and many of these kittens will end up in shelters--or
worse, on the streets or in the hands of neglectful or violent people.
Every year, open-admission shelters are forced to euthanize about half of the 6 to 8 million cats and dogs they take in because there aren't enough good homes for them all. With some shelters receiving hundreds of kittens each month during kitten season, cage space is at a premium and euthanasia is a necessity to make room for the never-ending stream of more animals. Not even adorable kittens and puppies are guaranteed a home.
That's why it's so crucial to have our cats (and dogs, too) spayed and
neutered as early as possible--before they can have that first "oops"
litter. It's safe--and even beneficial--to have kittens sterilized as young as 8
weeks old. Females who are spayed before their
first heat cycle have one-seventh the risk of developing mammary cancer.
Spaying also eliminates female animals' risk of diseases and cancer of the
ovaries and uterus, which are often life-threatening and require expensive treatments, including surgery. Neutering
eliminates male animals' risk of testicular cancer and reduces unwanted forms
of behavior such as biting.
important, lifesaving and life-enriching--for both adopted cats and their human families--and I encourage everyone who has the time,
funds, ability and desire to care for an animal for life to adopt a cat or dog
from their local shelter. But if we want to one day celebrate "There Are No
More Shelter Cats in Need of Adoption" Month, spaying and neutering are