Springtime in South Florida marks the beginning of kitten season. Every year, starting in early June, thousands of cuddly kittens join the hundreds of adult cats in search of forever homes. Whether it’s a bouncy kitten or a laid-back adult, this month our local shelters and rescues have plenty of fabulous felines available for adoption. If you’re thinking of adding a cat to your family, here are some important tips.
Cats belong indoors
While some cats may enjoy the outside world, this is in fact the most dangerous place for them to be. Outdoor cats are at risk for countless diseases and parasites. They are often hit by cars, killed by dogs, and injured in fights with other free-roaming cats. Outdoor cats kill wildlife and can become a nuisance for your neighbors who may not appreciate their gardens and play areas being used as litter boxes. Additionally, the life-expectancy of an indoor cat is nearly three times that of their free-roaming counterparts.
The entire family should participate in the adoption process
Before heading out to your local shelter, make sure everyone in the household is on the same page. Teach young children how to be gentle and respectful of animals, and let older children share some the responsibilities associated with proper pet care. Discuss what kind of cat will fit into your family, and whether a cat or a kitten would be more appropriate. Ensure that everyone actually wants a cat, and that no one in the household is allergic. Sadly, these conversations often take place after pet/owner mismatches occur.
Budget for both long-term and short-term medical needs
Cats that are adopted from shelters and rescues are a bargain! They are usually spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and dewormed in exchange for a modest adoption fee. That being said, some vaccines may need to be boostered, or a microchip may need to be registered at your expense. Cats are experts at masking the clinical signs of illness, so regular veterinary visits that include bloodwork, dental exams and parasite screenings are vital for good health and longevity.
Schedule a post-adoption veterinary exam
While your new cat may be “fully vetted”, this is the time to find the doctor who will care for your kitty for the rest of his or her life. These low-intensity visits can help your cat to be less fearful of veterinary visits, and are great opportunities to for new pet parents to ask questions regarding behavior, nutrition, wellness care, and veterinary insurance. Since your new cat will be with you for a long time, it is important to choose “the other family doctor” as soon as possible!
Cats cannot fend for themselves
The misguided belief that cats need little help from their humans has done immeasurable harm to thousands of these extraordinary animals. Our cats depend on us for everything from catnip toys to life-saving surgery. That fact that so many of our citizens force them to live on the back burner of the outdoor world does not make the practice acceptable. Cats are forever pets. They cannot be expected to survive on their own when we move, have babies, or buy new furniture! When we include our cats in all of life’s plans, we all do our part in reducing the number of cats in our rescues and shelters.
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