If I say 'cat' will you still read?While there are plenty of cat lovers among us, an unfortunate stigma is often associated with our feline friends. Some believe cats to be sneaky and aloof; others tease women cat owners about becoming “crazy cat ladies;” and though dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, cats have yet to fall firmly into that category.
By: Amy Miller, Duluth Budgeteer News
When I began writing for Animal Allies, one of the first tips I received was to use the word “cat” sparingly because a cat story may elicit less of a response from an audience than a story about a dog.
While there are plenty of cat lovers among us, an unfortunate stigma is often associated with our feline friends. Some believe cats to be sneaky and aloof; others tease women cat owners about becoming “crazy cat ladies;” and though dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, cats have yet to fall firmly into that category.
In 2010 several organizations committed to the Campaign for Zero, which was designed to eliminate euthanasia of healthy pets in Duluth. When Animal Allies pledged to help meet this goal, it was acknowledged that achieving zero euthanasia of healthy cats would be the biggest difficulty.
The Campaign for Zero was successfully completed, and this pledge has been maintained in the city of Duluth since 2010.
But eliminating euthanasia of healthy cats is an ongoing challenge.
Consider this: every spring and summer, shelter populations spike with an influx of kittens. In almost all cases, the birth of a litter of kittens is unplanned. While they are adorable, these kittens enter the world unwanted and homeless.
Cats reproduce rapidly. A cat’s gestation period is short—only about nine weeks. According to Dr. Mary Wictor, Animal Allies shelter veterinarian, a kitten can begin breeding as early as four months old. Cats become pregnant easily and often have more than one litter in a breeding season. Add all these factors together and the result is cat overpopulation.
This overpopulation contributes to the mentality that cats are more pests than pets: the devaluing of cats as a species.
But pet overpopulation doesn’t have to be the problem it is today.
Ensuring that your animals are spayed and neutered is the most vital step to combat pet overpopulation. The fewer unwanted litters born each year, the more likely there will be a home for every pet.
And that’s another challenging step: finding each pet a loving home.
If you’ve never considered yourself a candidate for cat ownership, you just may not have met the right cat. The key is to find one who suits your personality.
Take the time to get to know a cat, and what you learn may surprise you.
Cats, like dogs, have a variety of individual personalities. Animal Allies uses the ASPCA Meet Your Match program to evaluate each cat’s personality. This program will help you find the right cat for you. Looking for a companion who is adventurous and playful? Would you rather find a quieter companion who doesn’t require constant interaction? The “feline-ality” assessment will point you in the right direction. And, don’t forget, there are hundreds of personalities in between.
As an added bonus, cat ownership may even improve your health.
The University of Minnesota conducted a study at its Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center; it showed the risk of heart attack was 40 percent higher for people who had never owned a cat.
The study was not intended to recommend cat ownership as a form of treatment, but the conclusion was that owning a cat could reduce stress and anxiety. It’s hard to be upset when petting a contented and purring kitty asleep in your lap.
I challenge you to throw cat misconceptions aside. June is “Adopt a Shelter Cat” month. To celebrate, Animal Allies has lowered the adoption fee for all cats, aged six months or older, to just $5, for the entire month.
If you are a cat owner, you already know how life-enriching these animals can be.
If you are not, now is a perfect time to find out.
Amy Miller is the marketing and communications coordinator for Animal Allies. She lives in Duluth with her husband and three adopted pets: dogs Maverick and Goose, and a cat named Buddy Love.