The shelters and rescues in our area are overflowing with cats of all ages, sizes, colors, and personalities.
This year’s cat season babies are growing up in shelters and are now waiting for their own homes. Nationally, about 3.2 million cats end up in shelters each year, including thousands who are born each spring and summer during cat season.
Adding a cat to the family can be a fun and entertaining experience for everyone. When bringing a cat home, it’s important to give him the space he needs to settle down. Once he does, his personality will begin to shine through.
Cats are curious creatures, and their happiness can set the tone for the whole family. Cat happiness is such an important part of a cat’s overall health that September has been designated as a happy month for cats.
Cats come in a wide variety of personalities: some can keep to their requirements of love and attention, while others are more aloof, playing hard to get with humans and making them work for their affection. Whether your cat is the friendly type or the “do not disturb” type, there are many benefits to owning a cat, especially if you are looking for a more independent pet:
Not as needed as dogs: If you want the companionship of a pet, but have a busy schedule, this could be a match made in heaven. With the right amenities (food, water, fresh litter, toys, and a nice window with a view), cats are content to be left alone or with another pet to keep them company.
Unlike dogs, felines do not need to be allowed outside to do their business and can live completely indoors. I spend half of my time planning who will let my dog out if we have a long day away from home, who will watch the dogs when we get out of town, if we collar the dogs where we go, etc. on.
There is a travel line for everyone: Do you prefer cuddly or aloof? Friendliness often depends on the level of socialization, so not interacting with a cat often will only make him more withdrawn.
While personalities can vary, most cats are happy to receive attention when shown.
Here are some things to know about cat care before adoption:
play the thing: All cats enjoy a good challenge, and enrichment games can provide many hours of entertainment.
Long life: Cats can live to be over 20 years old, so a cat that is one or two years old will be around for many years. Middle-aged or senior cats are a good choice for a great companion.
Give them spaces: Climbing spaces, hiding spaces, sitting spaces. Cats love to climb up high – maybe you could give up an upper shelf to hang out on or add a cat tree with several levels.
They also like to hide, so make sure they have access to under or behind things and hide when they need some alone time.
At Animal Rescue New Orleans, there are hammocks in every kennel, and cats love relaxing in them all day long. Our cat condos have multiple levels that provide plenty of climbing spots and heights for cats to hide and lie down.
Cats need time to adjust: The transition for the new cat should be as smooth as possible. Consider where it came from. Was he in a cage at a shelter? Did you get off the street? Or is it coming from a home environment? Did the cat live with other animals? Was the place noisy or quiet?
The new environment can be stressful. Taking things slow, and easing him into his new routine is the best way for a cat to integrate into a new family. In most cases, it only takes a few days to acclimate to a new home, but it can also take several weeks.
First time cat owner? If so, rest assured that allergies are not an issue. Many people are allergic to cats, and some may not even know it, so making sure in advance that everyone in the house is allergy-free will avoid the cat having to lose its new home before it settles in.
A cat is a great choice for any family, but especially if you can’t always be home to let the pet out to potty. Once you bring a cat home, keeping him happy is easy as long as you give him lots of love, some settling time and all his “space”.
Tracy D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a volunteer-based, no-kill nonprofit. For information about ARNO, visit animalrescueneworleans.org.