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Jun
01
2017

Cat Adoption: Saving Many Lives

No one knows how many homeless cats there are in the United States, but estimates are up to 70 million.  Cats become homeless when owners allow them outdoors and they get lost, or when owners move and abandon their cats to fend for themselves.  People fail to have their cats spayed and neutered.  These homeless cats can have 1-2 litters of 4-6 kittens every year. It's no wonder that we have a serious problem with homeless, stray, and feral cats in this country!

A Word About Feral Cats

Feral cats are very resourceful at surviving and reproducing even in the coldest parts of our country, and well-meaning animal lovers feed and shelter feral cats without having them sterilized, so they reproduce at will. Cats can live 20 years or longer, so the homeless population is growing daily. 

Many communities have "catch and release" programs which facilitate the trapping, sterilization and releasing of feral cats that are not adoptable.  These cats usually have a cropped ear or a tattoo to indicate they are sterile.  Programs like this are an excellent solution to the overpopulation issue and easier to live with than mass euthanasia. 

Cats in Shelters

Unfortunately, animal shelters nationwide still euthanize about 1.4 million cats every year.  Most of the euthanized cats are sick, old or too feral for adoption.  Unfortunately, some are perfectly healthy young cats that must die simply because the shelter is full.  Out of the 3.4 million cats who enter shelters, only 37% are adopted.  Those with identification, like microchips, can be returned to their owners.  Sadly, only about 100,000 lost cats make it back home each year.  Cats are most often relinquished to shelters because their owners are allergic to them or they are living where cats are not allowed.

How You Can Save a Life

The good news is that 1.3 million cats are adopted, but that is less than one cat for every cat that is euthanized.  How can you help?  Try taking some, or all, of these steps!

  • Report stray cat colonies to local animal control officers.
  • If you find stray kittens, take them to a shelter or feline rescue be adopted, before they become fearful of humans. 
  • Organize a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program near you. 
  • Spend $25-50 dollars to buy a humane cat trap and ask your veterinarian to spay and neuter feral cats you bring in. Your vet and community animal control authorities can help you with the trapping process so you are never at risk of being scratched or bitten by a frightened cat.  Many veterinary colleges have TNR programs in place. 
  • Educate your neighbors about spaying, neutering and microchipping their outdoor cats.
  • Always adopt a cat! Never buy!

Don't Forget Adult and Senior Cats

Everyone wants a kitten which encourages breeders to produce them and pet stores to sell them, while their adult relatives are being euthanized.  Adult cats are already litter trained, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and socialized when you take them home.  They are much less destructive than kittens, lower maintenance (fewer vet visits) and ready to cuddle up with you on the couch. Senior cats might need a little more vet care, but they're the lowest maintenance by far, and will often repay you with the largest amount of love!

Remember, most adult and senior cats available for adoption were raised from kittens in someone's home.  Many of these cats' owners have passed away, moved into homes where they could no longer keep them, had a baby or other change in the family dynamic, or the cat got lost. These grown-up kitties are often quite affectionate, and just need to start over with a new family.

whiskerDocs has a complete library of  information about cats, starting with how to introduce a new cat to your household. Join the millions of responsible people who have been adopting instead of buying cats, and help solve the homeless cat problem that our fellow Americans have created!

All articles are reviewed and maintained by whiskerDocs team of veterinary experts.

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