Shelter Cats Seen as Undesirable

Most young adults want to buy a cat or dog instead of adopt and 46% think shelter cats and dogs are less desirable.

By CatChannel News Editors | Posted: April 29, 2013, 12 p.m. EDT

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Girl with Kittens -- Young Adults Prefer to Buy Cats Rather Than Adopt
Young adults tend to stereotype shelter cats as "damaged goods," according to a recent poll.
A survey conducted by Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab, Utah, identified what the organization called a disconnect in how young Americans approach pet adoption.

The survey results, released April 24, found that 46% of people ages 18 to 34 were more likely to purchase a pet from a breeder or store rather than consider adoption. In addition, the same percentage believed that shelter animals were less desirable than those obtained from breeders.

"We were sad to learn that to some extent animals in shelters are stereotyped by young adults as damaged goods,” said Gregory Castle, the society’s CEO and co-founder. "The fact is that every day in this country perfectly wonderful family pets land in shelters through no fault of their own, all of whom need and deserve a home of their own.”

Nearly 40% of the young adults surveyed thought homeless animals were not necessarily at risk and would remain in a shelter until adoption. About 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in city shelters, Best Friends reported.

Out of the 1,000 adults of all ages surveyed by telephone in November 2012, 90% considered themselves pet lovers and 86% believed that showing affection to a pet was very important. When it came to an animal’s health, 66% believed in regular veterinary check-ups and 65% thought their pet should be spayed or neutered.

"The fact that people love pets, but one-third of those do not know the importance of vet checks and spaying/neutering indicates that we have more work to do in getting the word out there about the realities of adopting shelter pets,” Castle said.

Four out of five adults believed that all cats and dogs should be sterilized to reduce overpopulation, but only 33% were aware that spaying and neutering helps improve behavior and 28% knew the practice can improve pet health, Best Friends reported.

Best Friends is a no-kill organization that works with animal welfare groups nationwide. "Our initiatives focus on animals that are at the highest risk of entering and dying in America’s shelter system,” Castle said. "Obviously, we are not there yet, but we’re making progress.”
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Reader Comments

M    Lake City, FL

5/9/2013 12:03:13 AM

Wow, those are some sad statistics- I'm a young adult and would always consider a shelter pet first, that's brought me so much happiness already; and actually can be safer than buying some purebreds who run the risk of diseases caused by irresponsible breeding.

Thanks for sharing the stats- hope someone finds a way to change them for the better!

Kevin    Denver, CO

5/3/2013 9:23:18 AM

Having a cat for company is wonderful! But saving a cat is priceless! My cat, Mookie, is a 1-year-old Tortie female and when I got her, she was quite sick with a respiratory infection and dehydration. The Denver Dumb Friends League gave me the option to take her home and care for her myself. I had volunteered at a few shelters here, and one in Mexico, so I felt up to the task.

Her recovery wasn't going well at first so the shelter said I could pick out a new cat and I said, "No way!" I've had family and friends abandon me when I was having trouble dealing with my clinical depression and I was determined that I wouldn't do that to Mookie. It's easy to have great friends during the good times, but much rarer to have great friends during the bad times.

Today she is happy and healthy and loves me for saving her. I live alone so Mooks and I discuss a lot of things (except politics and religion)and occasionally I'll ask her, "Aren't you glad I saved your life and have given you such a great home?" She gives me that look of affection so I know she's very grateful. In a way, she has saved me too.

Kevin    Bellingham, WA

5/2/2013 10:24:33 PM

I'm really surprised. I've always shopped for my pets from a shelter. Growing up my parents would take us to the shelter to see what was available. Just over a year ago I was lucky enough to adopt 2 male cats from the same litter. You know, you have to 2 some they cam keep each other company.

Dawn    Boise, ID

5/2/2013 6:24:28 PM

It's sad that so many people don't know or care about the huge numbers of unwanted pets in this country. If they only realised how many sweet animals are euthanised. It's our own careless neglect and unconcern that has created this situation. Don't call yourself an animal lover if you're turning your back on animals in need.

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