Are You Turning Your Back on Shelter Cats?

It's Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. Hear how you can help pets, even if your house has reached cat capacity.

By Janiss Garza | Posted: June 2, 2014, 8 p.m. EDT

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How To Help During Adopt a Shelter Cat Month
Adopted cats make some of the best pets around. Just ask Binga.
How To Help During Adopt a Shelter Cat Month
Some cats come with their own idiosyncrasies.
I have volunteered for cat rescues, and regularly donate to several. But when friends ask me about adopting a cat, I'm more likely to suggest they visit their local animal control facility. "You are literally saving a life," I tell them. "The cats at the rescues have already been saved from death. There are many more at the shelter that aren't so lucky."

Sadly, a lot of people are reluctant to go to animal control. "I can't stand to see all those faces and know I can't help every one of them!" they say. It really bugs me to hear that because avoiding an open admission shelter (i.e., a shelter that euthanizes animals) means that no cat at all gets helped.

June is Adopt A Shelter Cat month and I have one message for all those who shy away from their local animal control: suck it up and stop thinking about how you feel. How do you think the cats feel while they're sitting in cages and stressed out? If you are looking to adopt a cat, the best thing you can do for yourself, and for one absolutely amazing cat, is take a deep breath, walk into the shelter and get him out of there. Nobody else is going to do it. Well, maybe someone might come along ... or maybe not. There is a cat in there right this very minute that is supposed to be your cat. You need to be brave and go find him.

Don't assume visiting animal control is going to be awful. Shelters these days run the gamut, from horrible, scary places to modern, friendly facilities. In the greater Los Angeles area, I've been to both types. There are actually some shelters in the U.S. that have gotten their act together so well that they adopt out most of their charges and rarely have to euthanize a pet. And then there are others where a dozen or more cats' lives hang in the balance every night. Don't think the employees of the latter facilities enjoy having to make room for more turn-ins. These people passionately hate having to put down healthy pets because there is no room for them. They will be overjoyed if you come in and take a cat home. When you adopt from a shelter, you are saving a life, and making somebody's day a little less depressing at the same time. It's a win-win situation.

So if you want to adopt a cat, don't make any excuses to me, or to yourself. Put aside your own emotions and think about those of the cat you will save. Because I can tell you from personal experience there is nothing better than looking into the eyes of a cat you've just rescued from animal control.

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Reader Comments

Debbie    Herald, CA

6/18/2014 11:16:25 PM

The other option is to adopt from a rescue that pulls cats from the shelter. Every cat placed means that they can go save another shelter cat. I've volunteered with a shelter cat rescue for about 10 years now, and that's how we work. Actually we're shelter volunteers too. LAPCATS, near Sacramento, California - we work out of the Elk Grove PetSmart.

Cathren    El Paso, TX

6/7/2014 7:37:43 PM

I'd like to say that my husband I adopted a male black and white kitten from the Humane Society during a motorcycle fundraiser for the Humane Society in dedication to a fellow rider who loved animals. It is very hard to go in there and realize that no you cannot adopt them all. While we were there I walked by the kittens and he (the kitten)reached out and grabbed my hand and started "talking" to me. My husband adopted Harley for me that day. He is the most loving playful cat I have ever had and I cannot imagine a day without him. Thanks to my awesome husband for adopting him. I will definitely adopt another cat to join our three others we have and our precious doggie Abby.

DEBORAH    Greenbelt, MD

6/7/2014 11:41:33 AM

I agree. My friend and I or just I had been feeding a tortie and her older kittens before she disappeared. By a miracle, I found her again at the Animal Control Facility quite a distance away. It was the right cat because a bank where she had hung out had filed a nuisance complaint about her. I could not turn my face away from certain death in a 95% kill shelter. Today she lives with me and my five other cats, loves and plays with them. She is a rose of courage for being taken from a 2nd litter of kittens and her older ones, and she is the BEST addition to my cat family.

Linda    montgomery village, MD

6/7/2014 10:38:40 AM

I was never a cat person till I met my husband. I go to the shelter twice or 3 times a week to visit the cats. One kitty I know wants me. He is 11 years old. I have a 3 year old male kitty. I don't think they will get a long so I thought to get a 1 year old female. I have an 8 year old female. I always donate treats, toys, and stuff to the shelter by my house. Treats and toys for cats and treats for the dogs.

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