SO, YOU WANT TO HOME A CAT?
Thanks to the work of leading animal charities gifting pets at Christmas, or any other time, is not now accepted as a good idea. A few months into pet parenting, the furry bundle of cuteness with ‘look after me’ eyes, often becomes a responsibility too far as every day routines kick in.
These furry little ones are fast growing into highly active, demanding kitten. For some new owners there is a slow realisation that looking after a pet requires commitment and work. With today’s pace of life, this can be difficult to provide. This is often why animal shelters and charities are busy at this time of year with unwanted pets. While this applies to all pets, I wish to focus on cats, as they deserve someone on their side!
LOVE, CUTENESS AND COMMITMENT
How often have you heard it said ‘cats are independent’ – interpret this as a ‘belief’ that cats don’t need as much care as dogs. So, it follows, cats are viewed as an ‘easier’ pet owning option – more likely to look after themselves. I disagree!
Why is it then that shelters are full of unwanted cats? Numerous adverts appear on social media for re-homing and so many stray cats can be seen around the neighbourhood. My family has many cats, the majority just found us, and we gladly took them in.
If you are thinking of getting a cat, please think carefully about the commitment you may be taking on. Cats live to an average of 14 years, some live longer. During this life span your life will undergo many changes: change in career, marriage/new relationship, starting a family, divorce (not necessarily meant to be an inevitable cycle!) which can have an impact on your ability to care for a cat.
KITTENS BECOME CATS – WITH SAME BASIC TRAITS!
If you have decided to be a new cat owner why not think about getting a ‘junior’ cat, that’s a cat between 6 months and 2 years, or older? The important life-stages of cats are detailed below.
People choose kittens in the belief they can influence their nature and behavior. Trust me you will make very little impact on this. No amount of nurturing is going to change the basic traits of a cat. There are shy cats, friendly cats and not so friendly cats and that’s the way they’ll remain!
An example is Nina, who was part of my family from birth. She was from a litter of three and unlike her brothers she was reticent and didn’t like to be petted, even at 12 weeks old. I had only intended to home one kitten, but because she was so shy I was concerned about her future, so she stayed with me and her brother. She never changed from being reticent, but had her own ways of showing affection for me and my other cats.
A LITTLE BIT OF AGE IS ON YOUR SIDE
I am not saying nothing can be done to influence the behaviour of a cat, but you can usually tell the nature of a cat from first meeting. However, a cat with a poor care history can be transformed with good care and attention. This is one of the best rewards of re-homing a cat. If you don’t have much experience with cats, getting a cat from a shelter allows you to obtain information from experienced staff on the cat’s background, behavior and a view on how it will adapt to your home environment.
There are many mature cats in shelters that given the chance, would make great life-long pets. They may have been well cared for but the owner is not able to cope anymore or has sadly died, some may have had a pretty awful time. I re-homed two older cats, whilst well cared for; their quality of life was not great. Introducing them to my cats has been a rewarding and interesting experience which means living with my cat family is always eventful!
PRIME TIME IS PERFECT
Consider re-homing a cat, beyond kitten stage, perhaps she’s reaching her prime time of life. You will gain a better impression of her character and will get more information on any behavior and wellbeing issues to expect. You will also have all the benefits of her energy, playfulness and surprise at new experiences and you can watch her develop.
It’s really not difficult for kittens to find homes so please think about all the adult cats that are waiting to be cared for, the often difficult experiences they have been through and the difference you could make to their lives – and they to yours.
Fact: In 2014 Scottish SPCA re-homed 2,503 cats
Cat Life-stages: kitten (0-6mth), junior (6mth-2yr), prime (3-6yr), mature (7-10yr) senior (11-14yr), geriatric (15yr+)
Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home
Edinburgh Cat Protection League