According to the National Kitten Coalition, a little more than half the cats that are in a shelter are euthanized which is approximately 1.4 million cats per year. When you hear large numbers like that, you may feel like there is nothing we can do. However, it’s quite the opposite. Back in 1973, before the amount of concerted efforts and public awareness, approximately 13 million dogs and cats wound up in shelters. Currently, the number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year is between 6-8 million, about half of what it was in the early 70’s. Though we still have a way to go, we have made great strides in reducing the stray and uncared for pet population.
Ideally, it would be great if all animals that wound up in a shelter were adopted. So, what can we do to reduce the number of shelter animals?
- Spay or Neuter your Cat- Many times we think our cat will never make it outdoors but think of all of the places they have found within your home… the top of the fridge, a high shelf, a room that you were certain was closed off. Cats are smart and are natural hunters. They want to go out and look for prey. Even the most home-bound cat can be tempted to exit when you least expect it. So, just in case if they make their journey outside, by being spayed or neutered they will not add to the cat population.
- Adopt, Don’t Shop. When you adopt a cat, the adoption fee usually includes a spay or neuter surgery, microchip & registration and vaccination You are also preventing a cat from being euthanized. When you adopt a cat, you’re a hero by saving a life. Not only are you providing a forever home for your new feline friend, but you’re also reducing the number of stray and homeless cats in your community.
- Microchip you kitty. Did you know that less than 5% of cats who entered a shelter as a stray are returned to their owners? Again, this is because we often think of our kitties as indoor pets. However, they can be amazing escape artists so it’s important to microchip your cat.
- Educate Everyone! Most people just don’t realize how many animals wind up in shelters. Also, many people think that there must be something wrong with an animal if it is in a shelter. This is so far from the truth. Many times, it is just a lost pet, that wasn’t micro-chipped. Or, it was a cat that wasn’t spayed and then had kittens. You can find kittens and cats of all ages and breeds in a shelter with most of them already litter trained… and that is because they were in someone else’s home. They are missing their human companion. When everyone is aware, they will make better decisions by spaying and neutering, micro-chipping and adopting.
- Keep your pet for life. They are a member of your family and create a bond with you. Before you adopt or, buy a pet understand the commitment you’re making. Cats can live upwards to 13-15 years, some way longer. Kittens are cute when they’re young, but when they age, they may health issues, won’t be as playful and may no longer look cute. Ask yourself if you can commit for a lifetime. It’s very unlikely that your senior cat will get adopted and even if she or he did, they most likely will have a hard time adapting to life without you.
- Support Organizations that help with the Pet Population! There are lots of organizations that shelter pets, adopt pets, micro-chip, spay and neuter pets and educate others. Give to these charities when you can and make others aware of them. They are doing the behind scenes work that has helped us already reduce the unwanted pet population and they will continue to do great work. Here are some national organizations:
National Kitten Coalition – Goal is to Increase survival rates of rescued kittens
The Humane Society of the United States – has several goals and is an overarching organization focusing on the fight for all animals
Petfinder.com Brings Shelters and Rescue Centers to your fingertips to help Pets Find their People.
Or, do an internet search for local organizations that you can contribute to either financially or through volunteering. No matter which one you choose to support, the cats and pets out there will be grateful for your actions.