Summer is a great time to explore adding to your family with an adopted cat. When visiting shelters or adoption events keep these things in mind:
The staff and volunteers in shelters make the cats’ health and safety a priority. This includes making sure the cats do not become overly stressed from visitors. This is particularly important at an adoption event where the noise, chaos, and setting will be different from that which the cat is normally accustomed. Respect the cats’ space and listen to any instructions given to you by staff and volunteers. Be understanding if you cannot pet or hold the cats, particularly if you’re just there to visit and are not a potential adopter. Cats need space and time for themselves too!
Ask a volunteer if you can pet or hold a particular animal. They will know the temperament of each animal and will make sure a “grumpy cat” does not give you a warning swipe.
Do not bring dogs or other animals to visit the cats. You may know that your dog is a big softie when it comes to cats, but the cats in their cages do not! A large unknown animal that approaches the cage can be extremely stressful because the cat feels trapped and has nowhere to hide.
Prevent the spread of disease – use hand sanitizer between each cat that you handle. With so many cats living in close quarters disease can spread quickly. Help keep the cats happy and healthy.
Keep young children with you and monitor their behaviour around the cats. Visiting cats can be a very fun event for kids, but sometimes the overexcitement can lead to children who move too quickly or startle an unsuspecting cat. The cat may react defensively in these situations so take care to explain to children how to approach a cat.
A few final things to keep in mind:
• Ask the staff and volunteers questions; they often know the cats well and can give you insights into their personalities.
• Consider cats that have different colors than you came in looking for. Did you know that black cats are usually adopted last? Many of them have amazing personalities (and look great in your Halloween pictures).
• If you have a little more time or love to give consider a cat with a disability or health concern. Ask the staff what ongoing care will be required to see if that fits with the care you can give.
• Have fun! Adopting your forever friend is amazing!
Jenna Cheal, Ph.D. is an experimental psychologist who loves cats and analyzing cat behaviour. She uses her extensive background in understanding the causes of behaviour to provide simple solutions to a range of cat behaviour issues. Jenna (aka The Cat Psychologist) lives in Toronto, Ontario with her partner and two best cat-friends, Andes and Bolivar.