Many people avoid even paying a visit to animal shelters, simply because they can’t stand seeing all the sad faces. However, if you feel that it is time to get a new cat, being brave and visiting that shelter can change the life of one of those sad faces.
In South Africa, cats, especially adults, do not get adopted as regularly as dogs. According to Jaco Pieterse of the NSPCA, more kittens are adopted than adult cats. “It all depends on the person wishing to adopt, as adult cats are also adopted, but the numbers are far less than kittens. Kittens are easier to train than an adult cat who might already have ‘bad’ habits,” he says.
Even though these cats’ personalities have already developed, with a little time, patience and lots of love they are still capable of becoming your loyal companion, and they do deserve a chance.
I wish I could take them all
How do you choose the right kitty for your lifestyle? A good idea is to do some research before you visit the shelter. Once you get there you will be bombarded with many cute faces that could confuse you, so it’s important to already have a clear idea of what you want.
Some things to consider:
- Is an adult cat for me? An adult cat might find it harder to adjust to her new home. She might require some extra patience from you. On the plus side, an adult cat may possibly already be housetrained, as many cats who end up in shelters have had homes before. Like Pieterse says: “Adult cats normally end up at the SPCA because they are ‘problem cats’, the owners cannot afford to look after them anymore or the owners are moving to a place where no animals are permitted.” If you feel like giving an adult cat a new life, it can certainly be done. Cats tend to do whatever they want and go wherever they want, and that may be the greatest challenge when adopting an adult cat. Pieterse gives the following advice: “We normally recommend that the cat is kept indoors for at least two weeks. When the cat is let outdoors after the two weeks, only let her go out during the day under your supervision. After the cat is used to the new surroundings, she can then be given free access in and out of the house.”
- Moggie or purebred? At most shelters you will find a huge variety of cats to choose from. Most of them will probably be moggies, who make brilliant pets. Purebreds can also end up in shelters – enquire at your local shelter if there is a specific breed you are interested in adopting.
Decide whether you want a long- or shorthaired cat, as a longhair will require more time for grooming. When choosing your cat, look out for a cat who looks healthy – clear eyes, clean ears and nose, and clean, shiny fur. Once you know exactly what you want, all that’s left is deciding which cat you find the best-looking and which personality appeals to you the most. That’s the hard part, because all cats are gorgeous! But often there will be a special one who will steal your heart on the spot.
Isn’t adoption complicated and expensive?
Simple answer: no. Most shelters follow more or less the same process. Pieterse describes the SPCA’s adoption process as follows: “All SPCA animals are sterilised, vaccinated, dewormed and provided with a microchip or ID tag – therefore the adoption fee is not for the animal but rather the medical costs incurred by the SPCA. The person must physically view the animal at the SPCA and complete the relevant documentation. Once the documentation is completed, the SPCA Inspectors will do a pre-home inspection to ensure that the person wishing to adopt has adequate facilities/property to keep the animal, required knowledge to look after the animal properly and to see the condition of the other animals on the property. We must ensure that an animal adopted from us is not subjected to cruelty. Once the pre-home inspection is passed, then an adoption contract is completed and the animal is sent for sterilisation. After sterilisation the cat can go to her new home.”
The adoption fee is typically much less than it would cost you to sterilise, vaccinate and microchip the cat privately. And the importance of sterilisation cannot be emphasised enough, as the main reason for animals ending up in shelters is overpopulation. There is no excuse for letting your pet breed if you are not a registered breeder.
Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions at the shelter. Give your cat time to adjust to her new surroundings – cats are not as easy as dogs, but in the end she will no doubt be grateful for receiving a happy home. And when you see that contented, purring furball cuddling up in her favourite space, you will know that it was all worth it, and that you did an amazing thing.