Life has looked dramatically different lately for many people because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now think about how your pets are feeling. Then imagine how your pets would feel if they didn't have a home during this difficult time.
This June marks the 45th annual Adopt-A-Cat Month by American Humane. This year especially presents an opportunity for people to make a powerful impact on an animal's life.
According to the ASPCA, over 3 million cats come into U.S. shelters every year. The good news is that about 1.6 million shelter cats are adopted each year, and you could be a part of that group. Here are the steps you can take to welcome a cat into your home in 2020.
- Do your research. Adopting a cat requires plenty of diligence. Visit shelters online or in-person to learn about the cats there. Each one has its own personality, so you'll need to think about the kind of cat that works for your lifestyle and home.
- Evaluate your budget. You'll likely save money by adopting a cat from a shelter versus paying a breeder. Some shelters even take care of initial vaccinations and spaying or neutering surgery. However, you'll be responsible for regular vaccinations and visits to the veterinarian after that, along with food, toys, and cleaning supplies. Find a veterinarian in your area who can estimate the costs you can expect in the first year of cat ownership. Some shelters will even require information about the vet you plan to use.
- Gather supplies. The basics include a litter box and cat litter, food, bowls, a grooming brush, nail clippers, and a toothbrush. Then you'll want to spoil your new kitty with some durable and exciting toys, a climbing tree, and treats.
- Prepare your home. Next, protect all of your valuable possessions and furniture as much as possible. Put blankets or towels on soft fabric to avoid scratches from your cat's claws. Store food in a secure place, and don't leave anything fragile near table edges. Cats can be very curious and might get into your stash of snacks or accidentally knock over your favorite vase.
- Call ahead and schedule an appointment. The Humane Society, the Shelter Pet Project, local town shelters, and specialized cat shelters are great places to adopt a cat. Once you decide on a cat, call the shelter to verify the cat is still there and when you can come in to discuss the adoption process. Shelters may have different requirements depending on where you live, but it's a good idea to bring proof of identification and residency, along with a checkbook to pay the adoption fees.
- Bring the cat home. The shelter you choose may require you to wait 24 hours before bringing the cat home. After that, you can start slowly introducing your new pet to your home, family, and other pets you have. Cats don't always accept a new environment quickly. Try to confine your cat to one room to avoid overwhelming him or her.
- Schedule a vet appointment. This is when you can discuss a vaccination schedule and test for any diseases to ensure your kitty starts their new life on the right paw. If you adopted a kitten, this initial appointment is especially important.
If you can afford the time and money to do so, try to adopt multiple cats. Physical and mental stimulation improve a cat's overall health, and having two cats will keep them occupied while you're busy.
The excitement of getting a new pet can distract you from the responsibility of owning one, so take some time to reflect before taking this big step. Once you make the necessary preparations, you're much more likely to love the decision you made.
Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.