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Why adopt a pet instead of buying one?

August 01, 2018 4 min read

Adopting a cat can be one of the best choices you ever make. Not only do you gain an entertaining companion who will (probably) be glad to see you at the end of a long day, but you'll be saving a life, too. And who knows? Before long you might be sporting one of those bumper stickers that says, "Who rescued who?"


Why adopt a pet instead of buying one?

Pet adoption saves lives. Each year shelters euthanize 2.7 million dogs and cats. Most ended up in those shelters through no fault of their own. Divorce, aging human parents, or a family move meant these furry friends landed in a cage at the local animal shelter.

Shelter pets make great companions, too. They are usually house trained and accustomed to living with humans. These animals are also much less expensive than ones that come from a breeder. When you adopt a cat or dog, the modest adoption fee you pay helps cover the cost of shots, microchipping, and sterilization. So that first fee covers a lot of vet bills.

Another great reason to adopt instead of buy is that you're not supporting kitten mills. Yes, those exist. You've heard of puppy mills, right? Places where less-than-savory people breed dogs and raise litters in poor conditions before selling them at pet stores or in flea markets. Kitten mills exist, too, and they're just as horrific. Adopting means your money doesn't keep disreputable breeders in business.

Finally, research at Harvard University confirms that having a pet improves your mental and physical health because companion animals reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent loneliness.


Should you adopt two cats at once?

It's probably a good idea. Here's why:

Kittens learn to "speak cat" during the first 3-4 months of their lives. They spend time with their mothers and littermates, learning how cats do cat things. When a cat gets removed from other cats during these formative months, it may not understand what being a cat is all about. So if you bring home a second cat in a year or two, expecting the two animals to get along since they're both cats, you may find yourself in the middle of a loud and unpleasant wrestling match.

Besides, two cats who start out together can keep each other company. If you are away at work, school, or other activities during the day, your two pets can play, groom each other, snooze together, and do whatever it is cats do when humans are out of sight.  


How does pet adoption work?

Locate a reputable animal shelter near you. Talk with the staff. Explain your situation. It can help the staff to know how you've arrived at the decision to adopt a cat instead of a taking in a dog or purchasing a pocket pet such as a gerbil or rat. Share details about the size of your home, your family, and your work situation. All this information helps the staff members know which of their resident pets may be the best fit for you.

If you don't find a kitty who captures your heart on the first visit, don't be discouraged. Animal shelters acquire new cats all the time. Think of it like dating. You may not make your ideal match right away, but a little stick-to-it-iveness can pay off big in the end.

When you do find an animal to adopt, the shelter staff should give you a full medical history and as much information as they have about your new friend. They will also collect a modest fee to help cover the shelter's costs of caring for homeless animals.


What should you look for when adopting a cat?

As you meet the cats at the animal shelter, consider some important factors before making your choice.

  • Do you like this cat? If you don't find the animal charming, sweet, smart, beautiful, or whatever you're looking for, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Make sure you and the kitty have a little chemistry.
  • Is this cat the right age? Senior cats make great pets, and so do kittens. One is typically chill and the other can be a ball of energy, but the second is likely to live much longer than the first. Make sure you're getting the right age cat for you and your situation.
  • Which sex do you prefer? A neutered male and a spayed female probably won't display significantly different behaviors. But if you have your heart set on one sex or the other, it's okay. Find a cat that works for you.
  • Are you looking for a certain breed? About 25% of shelter pets are purebreds, and most breeds will eventually show up in a shelter. If you are sure about wanting a particular kind of cat, try calling several shelters or waiting until the right cat for you comes along.


Final thoughts.

Bringing home a shelter cat can mean years of companionship, fun, and kitty kisses. Be sure you're ready for your new friend before you collect him or her at the shelter, though.

Check out Modkat's Ultimate Guide to New Cat Ownership for our best advice on everything you need to do to make your cat's homecoming a great experience.

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